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The first meeting of Taskforce within the ROMACT program brought together local stakeholders for Roma integration in Botevgrad, Bulgaria

November 22
10:03 2017

The Municipality of Botevgrad is a small municipality in the West of the country. It is one of the municipalities in Sofia administrative region. It includes 13 settlements – Botevgrad, Bojenitza, Elov Dol, Gurkovo, Kraevo, Lipnitza, Litakovo, Novachene, Radotina, Rashkovo, Skravena, Trudovetz and Vrachesh. The town of Botevgrad is the administrative center of the municipality.
Botevgrad Municipality joined the ROMACT program in May, 2017 when the mayor of Botevgrad municipality- Mr. Ivan Gavalugov signed the ROMACT implementation agreement. The program aims to increase the capacity of local authorities to develop and implement inclusive policies for social inclusion of vulnerable Roma communities. Part of the program is the establishment of a Municipal Working Group for the Implementation of the Local Policy for the Integration of the Roma, called Taskforce.


After a couple of months of organizational work and setting up the Taskforce, the group held its first meeting on November 10, 2017. It brought together representatives of the municipal administration, principals of schools, headmasters of kindergartens, teachers, representatives of the local businesses, local media, NGOs and representatives of the Roma community. Among the participants were the deputy mayor of Botevgrad Boris Borisov, Adrian Angelov, chief expert in ethnic and demographic issues, Ivan Ivanov, health mediator of Botevgrad municipality, Ani Rizova – ROMACT facilitator, Dr. Svetla Stoyanova- GP, etc.


The participants in the meeting discussed the meaning and goals of the ROMACT program, the role of Taskforce and the main issues that the Roma community in the locality face. They all acknowledged that due to the developing business in the region, the factories hired many people and the unemployment rates in the municipality are comparatively lower than the national average rates. Nevertheless, the levels of education of the Roma population continues to be extremely low and this might create a gap between the growing requirements to the workforce and the education of the Roma in the near future.


Therefore, the participants united around the idea that education is the key for solving other interrelated problems like early marriages, housing issues, health issues, etc.


Directors of schools and kindergartens suggested the idea that in order to integrate Roma children, the focus should be on working with parents, as many of them are illiterate. They suggested setting up a school for parents.

Ani Rizova informed the participants that an idea is currently being developed for launching “Mothers’ centers”, where parents could be trained. Dr. Svetla Stoyanova added that trainings on health care could also be held. Manwhile, Mr. Adrian Angelov said that two new positions for health mediators have been approved two months ago and they are expected to be appointed after New Year. The topic for early childhood education was in the center of the discussions and the stakeholders focused on the fact that kindergarten fees seem to be high for the majority of the Roma families, while in the same time regular attendance of kindergarten, starting from an earlier age is essential for overcoming the educational deficits of the Roma community. Due to the importance of kindergarten education, the municipal representatives expressed their openness to discuss different ways for solving the issue with the higher fees, so that children can start kindergarten at an earlier age (3 years) and be better prepared for school.




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