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Alternative Education and Roma Empowerment: A Case Study of the Dr. Ambedkar Buddhist School in Sajókaza, Hungary

Jekatyerina Dunajeva, Patrick Ciaschi

Abstract


The Roma minority lives on the margins of Hungarian societal life. Segregation in the
education system at all levels necessitates urgent attention. While de-segregation ef-
forts have been attempted, the possibilities for change in the existing system is difficult,
if not impossible. Discrimination and xenophobia are deeply entrenched and normal-
ised among urban and rural elementary and secondary schools in Hungary. The small
northern Hungarian town of Sajókaza is a microcosm of these pernicious issues. Here
the Roma population, amounting to a third of the total town population, live in ghetto-
like conditions and their children excluded from the local schooling system. This paper
describes and explores the critical pedagogies practiced by the Dr. Ambedkar Buddhist
School (Dr. Ámbédkar Iskola) in Sajókaza. The authors report on the school’s mission
to transform the social and economic situation of Roma children and teenagers through
the teachings of the Buddhist critical pedagogue and visionary Dr. B. R. Ambedkar 1 .
The aim of this paper is to provide insights into the ways in which local projects of in-
clusion and Roma empowerment are being deployed through alternative education ar-
rangements and platforms, and how these have the potential of contributing to inclusive
community development and long-term poverty alleviation.

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