Is learning important?

Yes, it’s the most important!

A message from the first Roma scholar at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Dr. Zsuzsanna Orsós, Associate Professor, Cancer Researcher: Is learning important? Yes, it’s the most important!

The time when we could make a living without an education and just live off of manual labor has passed. I know very well that Roma are strong and persistent and even an illness cannot hold them back, but now machines are replacing the work people do and in order to know how to control a machine, an education is necessary. Many do not believe in school, but this is the only way that we can stand on equal footing, that doors will open in front of us, so that we do not always have to stand at the end of the line.

I am not saying that if we finish school, we will definitely have a job, but without an education, it is certain that we won’t have a job. I loved going to a parties too, I had friends too, but just because I continued my studies, I did not lose them, in fact, I even made new friends. My life got better through learning. I am not a servant and I do not have to work outdoors in the worst cold like many of my relatives. I would like for Roma children to live the same quality of life, for them to see the sea too, for them to shine at what they do best, too.

Take action against exclusion!

Continue your studies!

I think that as Romani people we all know the prejudices we face and against which we have to fight. I know how the “majority” sees us, the Roma. As an illiterate, uneducated, unmotivated-to-work, lazy people. In their opinion, there is no need to heed scientific and sociological explanations that the excluded have less access to social and educational goods.

There is no other path to equality than education - that is, the best and highest educational qualifications. Today, the sharp boundary between the well-off and the “unfortunate”, between more difficult and privileged lots is defined by the existence or absence of a school exit exam. This is fact.

The non-Roma majority “welcomes” the fact that we are not present in their schools, they welcome that we only learn a vocation, that we do not want to graduate from high school with them and go on to college and university because while they claim the way to get ahead is through working and learning, they make good jobs and good schools inaccessible to us.

However, we Roma people cannot accept the social position and role assigned to us: illiteracy, a lack of education, unemployment. Everyone has to decide whether or not to give in to these prejudices. Will you accept or fight against exclusion? Fight!

Every single young Romani person who takes the school exit exam contributes to breaking down the walls of exclusion. Brick by brick.

Jenő Setét, Roma civil rights activist – The We Belong Here Association