Macedonians pretended to be Roma to get a scholarship, but the MES exposed them

Ministry of Education and Science - blackboard / Photo: "Sloboden Pechat" - Dragan Mitreski

Several students turned to the editorial office of "Sloboden Pechat" with a request to investigate why the Ministry of Education and Science has not paid the scholarships for Roma students for months. However, the Ministry of Education and Culture told "Sloboden Pechat" that most likely these students do not receive payments, because they are not Roma. To make the situation even more interesting, they also sent objections to the Ministry of Education and Science because the money did not go to their account as it happened to their other Roma colleagues.

We were selected to receive scholarships for Roma students by the Ministry of Education and Science. It is not on the ranking list for approved scholarships. Believe it or not, so far we have not received a single response to our emails and calls and we have not been paid a single scholarship installment, a person who appears on the ranking list of the Ministry of Education and Culture wrote to us that he meets the conditions to receive a Roma scholarship. 

It is about a competition that was announced by the Ministry of Education and Science for full-time Roma students enrolled in first-cycle studies at public and private faculties in the country. After the competition was over, it was announced a ranking list where everyone is who meet the conditions of the competition. Among the names are the persons who asked "Sloboden Pechat" to contact the Ministry because they are not receiving the installments of the scholarships.

But we received a surprising answer from the Ministry of Education and Culture - even though these people are on the ranking list for selected students, during additional checks it was determined that they are not Roma, but Macedonians. As part of the Contest for the awarding of scholarships to Roma students, the candidates confirm their ethnicity through an electronic statement that has a legal basis, and also sign their consent to the processing of their personal data. It was this statement that was the basis for the Ministry of Education and Culture to conduct an inspection of the faculties and check how these students appeared during enrollment, that is, which ethnic community they indicated.

After the inspection of the applications of the candidates for scholarships for Roma students for the academic year 2023/2024, through direct contact to ensure the regularity of the student and validation of the declaration of ethnicity to public and private universities, it was found that from the total number of applications ( 149), eight of the candidates signed a statement that they are members of the Roma ethnic community, while when enrolling in a higher education institution they were registered as full-time students, but were declared as members of other ethnic communities, the MES told "Sloboden Pechat".

The Ministry of Education and Science awards scholarships to Roma students, which are also public policy and are defined in the Law on Student Standards from the academic year 2015/2016.

Funds for scholarships for Roma students are fully provided by a special budget program of the Ministry of Education and Culture, intended to support the education of Roma, and the purpose of the same is to award them exclusively to members of the Roma ethnic community.

Abuse of any type in relation to the awarding of scholarships for Roma students, neither has been nor will be, considering that the very team that works on planning, implementing and defining public policies for Roma in the Ministry of Education and Science are also members of the Roma ethnic community. The employees of the Ministry of Education, regardless of ethnicity, are responsible for the funds intended for scholarships, in the specific case the funds intended for scholarships for Roma students, to arrive at the correct address, to the category of students who need them the most, they add for "Sloboden Pechat" from the Ministry of Education and Science.

Thanks to this public policy, the number of Roma students in the past 11 years has been increasing significantly, and this is evidenced by the fact that during the academic year 2015/2016 a Competition for the awarding of 30 scholarships was announced, and this academic year 2023/2024 the MES announced Competition for awarding 135 scholarships for Roma students.

All Roma students who meet the conditions for receiving this scholarship are paid regularly and are currently awaiting the payment of the scholarship for the month of May 2024.

As one of the basic criteria according to the Competition, apart from the regularity of the students, it is inevitable that the students are members of the Roma ethnic community, the Ministry of Education and Culture told "Sloboden Pechat".

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