The Autonomia Foundation and the Detectivity Creative Education and Experience Center have jointly developed the Grid Detective Game – following the successful implementation of other detective games with a similar social purpose. Our own experience and international research prove that the transfer of objective facts is not the most effective in shaping attitudes. It can also be said that many people, when they feel that a program wants to change their thinking or want to pass on some knowledge to them, distance themselves from it and lose interest. However, during detective games, participants are basically busy solving a crime, they are active all the way through – not just involved in knowledge transfer – so as they play, they almost unknowingly acquire knowledge and start thinking about topics they usually avoid. Furthermore, prejudices and stereotypes about the members of a group can be most effectively overwritten by a personal meeting and conversation with the members of the group.
In this game, both the player gaining knowledge and a personal encounter appear, as while participants have to investigate the details of a crime in a disadvantaged village, they can also meet in person with the suspected Roma boy, played by a professional Roma actor for authenticity. During the game, they learn a lot about the situation of the rural Roma in connection with the boy’s story and can identify with the boy step by step during the investigation. After the successful conclusion of the investigation, there will also be a conversation in which young people will be much more active, raising questions and thoughts on Roma integration than they would otherwise after the fresh experience and the excitement of the investigation.
The investigative game has already reached many groups of students and has proven to be successful and effective among the participants. At the same time, there are many classes and schools where such a program would be needed, but financial resources are not available.
Everyone can support the donation campaign to allow 100 young people to take part in the Grid Detective Game and to meet and face issues that redraw their image of disadvantaged Roma. You can support the campaign here.
The games will take place in the first half of 2021.
During 2019, in the framework of our EaSI funded work programme ‘Roma Included in Social Europe’ (RIISE) ERGO Network members in Slovakia, Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary conducted case studies to shed light on specific challenges relating to Roma integration in their countries.
In Slovakia, the Roma Advocacy and Research Centre looked into the challenge of indebtedness of Roma and how a change in the bankruptcy law, which was not particularly focused at Roma, greatly improved their financial inclusion. You can read the case study here.
In Hungary, Autonomia Foundation spoke to mid-sized employers in one region of the country to learn more about their attitude towards employees of Romani origin and their employment and hiring capacity of Romani workers. Read the case study here.
Our Bulgarian member Integro Association discusses the impact of EU Operational Programs on the shrinking Roma civil society in Bulgaria. Read Integro’s case study here.
Finally, our Romanian member organization Nevo Parudimos explored the phenomenon of school drop-out or early school-leaving as well as to identify its reasons among disadvantaged young Roma aged 14–22, who failed to complete lower and/or upper secondary education. Antigypsyism inside the classroom and persistent poverty and difficult living conditions are the two main causes for early school dropout, which need to be countered by positive government measures. Read the full study here.
STRENGTHENING ROMA NGOS AS TRANSPARENT AND INDEPENDENT WATCHDOG ORGANISATIONS
ERGO Network’s new transparency and accountability criteria give recommendations on how grassroots civil society organisations should be governed and managed in order to be reliable and accountable. Fulfilling the criteria will bring attention to an organisation’s quality work. The set of criteria focuses on governance, financial management and performance.
ERGO Network together with its member organisations – Roma Advocacy and Research Centre (Slovakia), Roma Active Albania (Albania), Slovo 21 (Czech Republic), Autonomia Foundation (Hungary), OTAHARIN (Bosnia and Herzegovina), RROMA (Macedonia), Mladi Romi (Montenegro) and Zero Discrimination (Turkey) – developed a set of transparency and accountability criteria for grassroots organisations with the aim to strengthen civil society organisations. Using the criteria will give more legitimacy, better fundraising opportunities and more trust from both the grassroots level and institutions and ultimately reinforce the power of civil society organizations. Being transparent and accountable are important prerequisites for the effectiveness of civil society that is taken seriously by its institutional counterparts and other partners.
Furthermore, the members of ERGO Network agreed on joining their efforts and putting their thorough expertise together to empower Roma and pro-Roma civil society in their countries in implementing the transparency criteria. For this aim, ERGO Network has developed a board game that leads the players through different steps necessary to become more transparent and accountable. Anyone can download the game and play it by themselves, or invite an ERGO Network facilitator to support them through the process. Besides the offline game, there is also an online self-audit that you can go through to discover how far you are in applying the criteria in your organisation.
Fulfilling the transparency criteria means not only being able to show that Roma and pro-Roma civil society takes these very seriously, but also having the right to demand the same from other stakeholders.
Strengthening Roma civil society as independent and transparent watchdog organisations
ERGO members from the Western Balkans, Turkey and the ‘Visegrad countries’ Hungary, Slovakia and Czech Republic met in Brussels on 24-25 November to prepare a new ERGO project that will strengthen Roma civil society as independent and transparent watchdog organisations.
Being transparent and accountable are important prerequisites for the effectiveness of civil society organisations that are taken seriously by their institutional counterparts. It also shows public authorities that civil society take transparency and accountability very seriously and demand the same from the public sector.
With financial support from the International Visegrad Fund and the European Commission, ERGO Network member organizations therefore agreed on joining their efforts and put their thorough expertise together to set up a list of ‘transparency criteria’ and capacitate Roma civil society in their countries in implementing them.
During the meeting, all partners agreed that using transparency criteria would give them more legitimacy, better fundraising opportunities and more trust from both the grassroots level and institutions. They then drew up a list of criteria, divided into the chapters ‘governance’, ‘finance’ and ‘performance’. These include points such as giving access and distributing information about statutes and funding sources of CSOs, clear decision-making structures that divide responsibilities and ensure gender equality in CSOs, as well as the participation of target groups in the development of strategies and goals. The partners furthermore stressed the importance of open leadership and regular training within the organisation that contribute to a positive performance of the staff, as well as the need not to use ‘dirty money’ coming for example from illegal sources or from companies using child labour.
Transparency also demands a proper and clear communication strategy (both internal and external) that communicates the vision, mission and the long term goals of the organization. If applicable, diversification of funds also contributes to more independence of organisations.
In 2018, ERGO Network will organise a training for trainers on the transparency criteria in order to help their usage and dissemination in the participating countries as well as offer coaching visits to the partner organisations. You will be able to find regular updates on our website.
ERGO member Autonomia Foundation from Hungary recently published a set of recommendations based on the outcomes of their project “Closer to Communities – Roma Coordinators for better use of EU Funds”, supported by the Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme of the European Union.
The general purpose of the “Closer to Communities” programme was to increase the efficiency of projects benefitting from EU structural funds. The programme was implemented in 15 disadvantaged communities where a large number of Roma live – these communities were assisted by local Roma coordinators in their local development. The Hungarian National Association of Local Authorities (TÖOSZ) participated in the implementation and supported the national dissemination of lessons learnt. ERGO Network contributed to the presentation and dissemination of results at international level.
As a result of the programme, 11 applications for Roma integration projects were submitted to EU Calls for Proposals, which will provide close to 1 Million Euro worth of local development funds if supported. Hundreds of local governments were directly informed of the project at the county forums and in workshops organized jointly with TÖOSZ. In addition, dozens of mayors were involved in discussions on Roma integration challenges and possible solutions. The experiences and suggestions of the project were presented at a working group meeting in Brussels with different experts and civil servants of the European Commission in May 2017.
The main recommendations focus on better dissemination of good practices, stronger conditionality of European funding, more transparent funding rules as well as more core funding for Roma and pro-Roma NGOs in order to act as independent watchdog organisations.
Read more about the project results and recommendations here.
As one outcome of the project, local communities took part in common art projects, focusing on community video making. Have a look at the film ‘Closer to Communities’ .
Autonomia Foundation – ERGO Network
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