Much ado about nothing ..
Decade for Romani Inclusion?
Composite of part of the Decade website with part of the Roma Education Fund page at the World Bank.
With great fanfare the World Bank President, James Wolfensohn and George Soros launched the Decade of Roma Inclusion in February of 2005 in agreement with central and eastern European governments.
On the occasion, Netherlands Radio interviewed Hector McNeill, the General Secretary of the European Committee on Romani Emancipation (ECRE), who stated that the agreement was overdue.
However he also stated that the funding was insufficient (a figure of $40 million to be applied over 10 years in 8 different countries had been cited) when the governments of the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia each invest around about 100 million euros each year to create new incentives which force Roma children in rural villages into so-called ‘special schools’. The major cause of discrimination and lack of education of gypsies in these countries is the result of official government policy.
Failure to uphold the rule of law
Furthermore, Mr McNeill stated that the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia were contravening the laws of the European Union. At the same time the European Commission still fails to act to terminate this practice, and it is their duty and mandate to do so as Guardians of the Treaty.
Nor was he optimistic about eastern European governments giving money to boost education, employment and housing among gypsy communities referring to their disastrous track record of having invested in the last decade well over one billion euros in segregating the children. He did not think the track record points to an actual enthusiasm for integration on the part of governments. The Czech Republic, the Slovak republic and Hungary are members of the EU and are still funding discrimination. Being a member of the EU has made no difference; in practice nothing happens becayuse governemnts are breaking the law and allowed to get away with it.
Romani World caught up with Hector McNeill last week to ask him to comment on the progress of the Decade for Roma Inclusion. He said his views had not changed and nor have the facts on the ground.
REF cannot do anything
If just three of the governments in this agreement have spent over a $billion during the last decade it is questionable if the $34 million in the Roma Education Fund (REF) will achieve anything at all being spread over 10 years and 8 countries. The sums were very simple. For example, Hungary spends around $100 million to pay local rural authorities to segregate Roma children and the most Hungary can hope to obtain each year from the REF is a $500,000 allocation. So 200 times more money is being used to grease the palms of local governments to segregate children than is being given to Roma NGOs to integrate them. In reality some of the funding from REF in Hungary has already been allocated to the same Ministry as is overseeing and coordinating this discrimination funded by central government. All of this makes a mockery of the World Bank.
World Bank failing professionally
ECRE reviews of World Bank preparatory documentation pointed out that there was a failure to size the issues involved. No account was taken of the orders a magnitude of current and required budgets. In addition to these basic economic factors, the World Bank also failed to analyse the legal implications and the issues of transparency.
Failure to uphold transparency
The World Bank often cites transparency and the rule of law to be important factors in promoting effective development and yet they have singularly failed to to seek any transparency or justification on the issue of the bribes paid to local authorities by central governemnts to segregate Roma children.
Failure to promote the rule of law
The World Bank also failed to question the continued brazen breaking of European law by these governments.
Failure in fiduciary duty to donors
The World Bank has the fiduciary duty which includes the responsibility to protect the funds of donors. This requires that they report to donors all pertinent facts so that the donors are made aware of the true political environment within which these fund are being applied. The donors have not been made aware that some of the "collaborating" governments are undermining the programme to the degree of making it completely ineffective.
Current REF donors - do they really know what is going on?
- Open Society Institute, Private Foundation
- European Foundation Center, Private Foundation
- World Bank Communitry Connection Fund
- Council of Europe Development Bank, Multilateral
- International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, World Bank, Multilateral
- Canadian International Development Agency, CIDA, Canada
- Department for International Development, DFID, UK
- Development Corporation Ireland, Ireland
- Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Finance, Slovenia
- Netherland Ministry of Foreign Affairs, The Netherlands
- Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency SIDA, Sweden
- Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, Switzerland
- Hellenic AID, Greece
To integrate just insist on the rule of law
- Bill Newton Smith
- Nicolae Gheorghe
- Nicholas Burnett
It is more than evident that to stop segregated educational denial all that is needed is for the European Commission to demand that the EU member states of Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia integrate their schools. Not over 10 years, but now.
Governments awash with money to waste
These countries cannot state there is no funding since each government is already spending around 200 times more than the fund each year to bribe local authorites to segregate these children. They cannot deny that they have this money. So they should be asked to start by using these funds to assist these children.
Business as usual
In reality the Decade for Roma Inclusion and the Roma Education Fund, with a list of respectable donors in tow, all gift wrapped with the seal of approval of the World Bank are a very convenient smoke screen behind which these governments continue business as usual, that is the continued enforced segregated educational denial on Romani children. This is completely unacceptable.
It is unacceptable because the very institutions who want the world to believe they believe in equality, continue to treat the Roma unequally. As people not worthy of being given their rights under the law, just now. Since they are Roma, they can wait. Let us say for a decade, and, no doubt, another decade after that, and yet another, passing the responsibility on to other corrupt and shabby politicians yet to be born. And in the meantime those to whom they have given hope will, as in the past, be disappointed and will pass away surrounded in the cemeteries by their loving families, surrounded by a society marked by the curse of racial discrimination.
Another article on this specific issue was published in February 2005 on European Options and can be accesed here