Document: ECRE(2003) 002
Updated 18th March 2003*

A Report on an Investigation
European Economic Interest Grouping


A case of wilful criminal neglect
professional incompetence


26 February 2003

Update details: 18th March 2003
Update details: 17th March 2003
Update details: 14th March 2003
Update details: 2nd March 2003


To access any section click on the title

The Special Schools
Numbers - Expectations and reality
Evolution of this investigation
Why there is no parental choice
Special school funding
Some introductory statistics
Highest likelihood estimates
Data sets
The case of Hungary
Less than transparent accounting
Where is the money going?
The real tragedy
Failed minority self-government
Financial agreements
Hungary - summary
Czech republic - summary
Slovak republic - summary
Central Europe - summary
Impacts on the Roma
Impact upon mainstream society
Impact on society in general
Impact on Central European economy
National populations
Mainstream and Roma population numbers
Roma population within the school age segment and the Special schools
Labour productivity segments & economic impacts
Opportunity cost
Erosion in Hungary's competitive status
Hungary's one option choice
Central European losses
Impact on the Economy of the European Union
Rationalising EU funding
A European social problem or national human resources issue?
Implications for the European Union
Criminal neglect & professional incompetence
Debasement of educational profession
No place in education
European Union
Questions for the European Union
Urgenty need for human resources planning


Hungary 1961-2003 HLE average - Special school population, percentage Roma and value of financial transfers

Hungary 1987-2003 - Graphic summary - HLE average annual figures, Special school population, percentage Roma value of financial transfers

Hungary 1979-2003 Cumulative 5 year total values of ranges of transfer under Special school programme in Euro millions

Central Europe 1989-2003 - Special school populations, financial transfers, funds accounted for and unaccounted for

Central Europe 2000-2050 - Population projections

Central Europe 2000-2020 and 2000-2050 - Loss in population

Central Europe 2000-2050 - Population projections for whole countries and Roma

Hungary 1989-2003 - Representation of Roma children within 7 to 16 years age group in Special schools

Hungary 2000-2050 - The opportunity cost of non-Roma segment development to Hungarian economy. Current real growth pattern with no proactive development of Roma population component


The European Committee on Romani Emancipation
Basic Operations


1. This document is a report on an investigation by the European Committee on Romani Emancipation (ECRE). This document concerns the Special schools in Central Europe and their impact on the Roma, Central European society and the Central European economy.

2. In the Annual Report in 2000, the European Committee on Romani Emancipation (ECRE) raised the issue of the unacceptability of Special schools. At that time the main issues raised were:
  • their discriminatory nature
  • the lack of, and therefore need for, Roma parental choice in the schooling of their children
  • inadequate to useless quality of "education"
  • the need for an integrated education
  • the apparent lack of transparency in the use of Special school funds
3. In 2001, the Management Committee of ECRE decided to investigate this matter further to undertake a more comprehensive analysis of each of the above points and to prepare a proposal for an action plan for de-segregation of schools as a basis for compliance with European Union norms.

4. This work was initiated in February, 2001 and our natural approach was to talk to Roma representatives to sound out opinions on each of these issues.

5. This work took some time to complete as we had to confront a conspiracy of evasion on the part of officials as well as enforced silence on the part of Roma families. However, we were able to advance this work slowly and, we feel, successfully.

6. What we have uncovered must be the worst case of racial discrimination motivated by financial greed that exists in Europe today.

7. This document is one of a series of analyses and advocacy documents geared towards the definition of actions to promote Romani emancipation.

Management Committee
26 February, 2003

Previous drafts:

14 June, 2002
10 September, 2002
5 December, 2002



8. During the communist regime the governments in the, then, Soviet satellite countries, set up central budgets to support the needs of special children. Special children were considered to be those with learning difficulties or to be educationally subnormal. The purpose of the budget was to make funds available to local authorities where any such children lived, so as to provide more individual attention and even special didactic equipment or teaching aids.

9. The statistics on the historic development of numbers of children classified as "special" and the fund transfers are not readily available.

10. However, during the 1960s and 1970s a significant part of the education of Roma children was undertaken in church schools. These provided rudimentary education addressing a situation of full employment and a pre-defined role of Roma as manual and unskilled workers. The quality of education received in the church schools varied according to the sense of vocation and the teaching skills of the teachers involved. During this period there was no obvious association of Roma children with Special schools.


Normal expectations of numbers

11. Educators and psychologists have determined that the normal percentage of educationally subnormal children, within any particular group, can be expected to be something of the order of 2%-3%.


12. During the period pre-1969 through 1970s, from verbal reports, the numbers of children attending Special schools following the time of their initiation, was around 2.5% of the school population. The percentage of Roma children within the Special school system are estimated to be also 2.5% of the school population and making up less than 5% of the Special school population.

Regime change - Special schools continue

13. In 1989, the Russian economy and communist regime collapsed. However, the Special school system continued to operate in the Czech Republic, Hungary and the Slovak Republic.


14. Currently (2003), over 40% of the Roma children are now sent to Special schools and make up something like 98% of the Special school population. These figures do not include those Romani infants who were added to these numbers at the beginning if the academic year 2002/2003 as "Special" kindegarten children. This event has increased the number of Roma children under the regime by about 15%-20%

Something is wrong

15. Independent work to assess the intelligence of Roma children attending such schools has concluded that the majority are of normal intelligence.

16. The statistics and the uncommon surges in numbers of Roma children sent to these schools suggests that their selection has no relationship to capability, intelligence or other educational criteria.


Initiation of field work by ECRE - distortion of information

Issue of parental choice

17. In talking to parents about their children being at a Special school we noticed that they were often extremely ill at ease and did not want to discuss the issue. Many because visibly upset when it was suggested that it might be better if their children were transferred to the normal school. It was often quite difficult to find a parent who acknowledged that the Special school provided effectively no education at all. Many Roma questioned stated that the Special schools were adequate for their children. This sort of statement did not tie in with our knowledge of the real views of Roma.

18. Accordingly concepts of Special schools being discriminatory or that it would be beneficial for parents to have a say in the selection of schooling for their children were topics difficult to advance.

19. By the same measure the benefits of integration was a topic severely compromised by the apparent attitudes observed.

20. This behaviour did not conform, in any way, with previous general surveys ECRE had undertaken nor with our knowledge, based upon regular contact with members of Roma communities, of how Roma felt about education. We know that Roma consider education to be important for their children's future.

Official evasion

21. In raising the question of use of Special school funds with local authority officials ECRE could make no progress because of the general evasion. A device used by officials was to state that government statistics do not discriminate between ethnic groups.

22. On the question of the lack of transparency of use of Special school funds we found officials in local governments completely evasive on this topic. On most occasions they refused to discuss the topic usually on the basis that it was not their area of responsibility; this even included education and financial officials. Several even claimed that they could not show such information under the legal requirements of "data protection".

Initial lack of progress

23. By August 2001, the ECRE Management Committee decided that the rate of progress in advancing this work was unacceptable. It was therefore decided not to continue under the ECRE banner but rather undertake an investigation using both non-Roma and Roma individuals with no previous association with ECRE.

Subsequent progress

24. This investigation work began in November 2001, exclusively in rural areas. After a very slow start, began to provide useful feedback by late December 2001. Once ECRE began to receive feedback the Management Committee was then able to provide a more guidance to the field agents on the types of information required.

25. During this second phase of the investigation another quality of information emerged.

Fraud and racial discrimination

26. By March 2002 a clear and disturbing picture was emerging of massive financial fraud within the political elites based upon the misuse of Special school funds. The main victims of this corruption were found to be the Roma children sent to the Special schools to justify the transfer of funds from central budgets. Selection of children has been increasingly based upon racial discrimination.

27. Subsequent investigation provided an insight into the history of this process and more particularly the rise in abuse of the system for financial motivations during the last 5 years.


Parental choice incurs unacceptable risks to a family

28. It became apparent that most Roma parents were, and are, given no choice as to where their children are to be educated. Those who were told their children were to be sent to the Special school, and who objected to this decision, were directly, or indirectly, threatened by local authority officials, and even educational officers, not to question this decision.

29. Other parents admitted that the obvious message was that if they questioned this decision they could lose their child benefits and, in cases of the unemployed, their unemployment benefit payments.

Conspiracy of silence

30. Consequently, as a direct result of this form of coercion there was, and is, a silence concerning Special schools; it is a topic which Roma parents find difficult to discuss.

Interpretative consequences

31. It is therefore easy for the uninitiated, and especially outsiders, to misinterpret the situation for one in which the Roma are not particularly concerned about the education of their children.

32. This stereotype is reinforced by government officials and educational "experts". They frequently maintain a misleading image of the Roma by making reference to them as being people who do not understand nor appreciate the importance of education. The implication being that if there is anything wrong with the education of Roma children, it is a result of the poor standard of, or irresponsibility of Roma parents.

33. Most official reports on Roma education published during the last decade do not seem to have recognized, or if they did, have failed to acknowledge the pressure brought upon Roma families by the government and educational officials to accept the affront of placing their children in Special schools.

The reality

34. On the other hand, as a result of previous forums between ECRE and Roma parents, on the issue of education in general, and as a result of our regular individual contacts with Roma, we knew that in reality Roma parents feel education is important for their children.


The levels of funding

35. Part of the investigation was to ascertain the levels of funding available to Special schools because Special schools were and remain extremely ill-equipped, there is effectively no useful instruction and children languish and essentially lose interest and finally, and understandably, drop out.

36. Investigators were able to obtain several sets of local authority documents recording the financial transfers under the Special school regime.

37. As a result of contacts with retired officials, it was possible to build up a picture of what had happened previously.

It is a significant amount of money

38. The Special school budget for each town or village is transferred from central government as a lump sum equivalent to the number of Special children in any particular town or village.

39. The amounts transferred in 2002/2003 are approximately the equivalent to Euro 1,750 each year per child allocated to the Special school.

40. This sum is far higher than expected and is extremely generous, even by international standards.

41. Small villages can have between 50 to 150 Special school children, an average transfer of some Euro 175,000 per village. This amount for a poor rural village in central Europe is a massive amount of money.

42. Some of this money is used to provide salaries for Special school teachers which are taken on at roughly the rate of one teacher for every 25 children. The per child transfer under the Special school regime is just a little less than the equivalent of an annual salary of one teacher. In other words for 100 children the authority will receive Euro 175,000 and 4 teachers will be paid a total of Euro 8,000. This is equivalent to 4.5% of the total transfer.

43. Given this level of financial generosity and noting the lack of expenditure on the Special schools, it is natural to ask just how is such a high figure is justified. No matter how much investigation work was undertaken it was virtually impossible to identify where the remaining 95% of the transfer was or is spent. These funds are clearly not spent on the Special school nor the Special school children.


44. During the course of this investigation it became apparent that there were large discrepancies between what many assume to be the numbers of Roma children in Special schools and the actual numbers. So in villages where we were told there were a "hand full" of special children or "thirty so" we discovered their were sometimes 100 or even approaching 150 Special children.

45. In the case of the Czech republic the officials use the excuse of "not discriminating, in official statistics, on racial grounds" as a justification for not coming up with realistic figures even although the government agencies have these statistics.

46. Slovak republic agencies were also not forthcoming in terms of provision of accurate official figures.

47. In the case of Hungary there were evasive comments with reference to "data protection" as a basis for not producing accurate figures. This serves to obscure the massive recent increases in Special school children numbers. This increase has occurred since the European Union has called attention to the need to "reduce" the number of Special schools; the numbers of Special schools and or "Special streams" have increased dramatically.


48. The statistics are therefore produced on the basis of what are known as highest likelihood estimates (HLE). An HLE is the most accurate figure available from the combination of official statistics and information gleaned from looking at real local authority documentation, population estimates and local estimates of percentage Roma children in Special schools as well as physically counting the numbers of children in selected communities.

49. HLE estimates, by their nature, can represent a slight over-estimation of actual numbers or, indeed, a slight under-estimation of actual numbers.

50. Therefore the statistics are presented as an average HLE series. The true figures are likely to fall within boundaries set by +20% and -20% of these averages.

51. HLEs cannot claim to be absolutely correct figures but they provide a sound basis for estimateing the orders of magnitude as to where the real dimensions of the issue lie.


52. The best data series were built up from Hungarian sources and the main statistical series represent the results for Hungary.

53. However, we also gained useful insights on parallel processes evolving in the Czech republic and the Slovak republic. As a result of this information we provide summarized information for these two countries. This information is compatible with the Hungarian data and therefore provides a basis for comparison of the aggregate figures.

54. All figures, for comparison terms, are quoted in Euro-equivalent at 1st Quarter 2003 exchange rates.


The Case of Hungary

Aggregate figures

55. During the period 1989 to 2003, Hungarian governments transferred approximately Euro 751.25 million from central budget to Special schools. Roughly Euro 75 million can be accounted for in terms of the salaries of Special school teachers, during the same period. The rest of these funds, that is Euro 676.25 million remain largely unaccounted for.

Former period

56. During the whole of the Communist, or Soviet, period Special school transfers remained roughly within expected limits when the normal distribution of children in need of special education needs (some 10,000) are taken into account. So during the 20 years between 1960 through 1980 the total transfers totaled just Euro 112.5 million.

57. Without wishing to rush to judgment it is apparent that the governments and educators working under the old regime did not appear to abuse this system.

58. Towards the end of the "old regime", in the decade between 1981 through 1990 numbers began to increase to around 15,000 and the total funding during that period was Euro 120 million.

Hungary 1987-2003
Highest Likelihood Estimates - Average Annual Figures
Population of Special schools, the percentage of which Roma
and the value of financial transfers*

Year Number of
Special school
% children
Financial transfers
in Euro million
61-70 10,000 0.05 5 (50)
71-80 10,000 0.06 6.25 (62.5)
81-90 15,000 0.12 12 (120)
1991 20,000 0.20 16.00
1992 25,000 0.25 20.00
1993 25,000 0.30 25.00
1994 30,000 0.35 34.00
1995 30,000 0.40 34.00
1996 30,000 0.45 36.00
1997 30,000 0.50 36.00
1998 35,000 0.60 42.00
1999 42,500 0.75 68.00
2000 52,500 0.90 84.00
2001 60,000 0.95 96.00
2002 65,000 0.98 113.75
2003 70,000 0.98 122.50
TOTAL     959.75

Hungary 1987-2003
Graphic summary
Highest Likelihood Estimates - Average Annual Figures
Population of Special schools, the percentage of which Roma
and the value of financial transfers*
GRAFI2.GIF - 8770 Bytes

Since 1989 financial allocation has been Euro 751.25 million.
All estimates expressed in Euro (1st Q 2003 equivalent)

A free market, a freedom to abuse?

59. Abuse set in, and has become more intensive since the collapse of the Soviet economy and the preparation of these countries for EU Membership.

60. Roma parents report a significant rise in the number of their children attending Special schools since 1989

61. For example, the numbers of children in Special schools has gone up three times and the rate of budgetary transfer per child has been increased by more than twice.

62. This means the rate of annual transfer of funds has increased from seven to ten times in spite of the fact that the funds are not spent on the Special school children.


Account management - intentional obscurity

63. The management of local authority books surrounding the Special school transfers is quite elaborate.

64. There are normally two sets of documents. One from the Ministry of Finance setting out what has been agreed in terms of budget transfers. The other is the local authority budget plan. In the cases of large towns there are some differences in that documents reflect their previous negotiations. In the case of most smaller communities and villages the Ministry document is considered to be "normative" providing the allocations to be followed.

65. The transfers are split into several budget lines within the local authority books. There are multiple cross-references to payments for extra work and duties within the school functions but none of these are significant. The impression given is that there are literally hundreds of activities which under normal circumstances one might expect to absorb the Special school funding; they do not do this. Each budget line however, is so reduced in value that the uninitiated would not notice anything unusual. It therefore is not immediately apparent that a massive block of money is flowing through this system.

It is mainly a Roma issue

66. Subsequent investigations showed that the majority of current Special school children are Roma (around 98%).


The use of the money

67. ECRE estimates that for Central Europe as a whole, the total value of Special school funding is (2003) in excess of Euro 360 million each year, but as observed above, these funds do not appear to be used in the Special schools.

68. We found no officials in local government or school authorities willing to discuss how the Special school funding is used.

69. There were a wide range of allegation as to where the funds go, from illicit activities through to small amounts being cycled back into the Normal schools. However, the range of allegations is too wide for ECRE to either investigate further or make any prior judgments as to their veracity.


70. The unfortunate picture which is built up from this is that Roma children have been, and are, used as a commodity to gain significant budgetary transfers which are not spent on these same children.

71. The Special schools are, in general, a disgrace, with children spending much time, under teacher supervision, playing. As a result these children become disenchanted with school, languish and end up dropping out as a direct result of the indifference of the educational system to their real prospects.

72. No matter what justifications Central European educators put on their participation in, supporting and administering this system, it is apparent that they willingly, and knowingly, contribute to the maintenance of an Apartheid Gulag for Roma children at an immeasurable cost to the futures of those same children.

73. It was alleged that the largest increases in Special school children took place during the Fidesz led government between 1998 to 2002 and that financial a transfers also increased substantially.

74. It was alleged that during this period, villages which did not previously have Special schools, suddenly had them and the rates of financial transfer for each child were increased.


75. One of the more complex paradoxes concerning this abuse of Roma children is the fact that the Fidesz government was successful in "managing" Roma issues, in general, by negotiating the placement of Roma representatives, on the Fidesz party list for the election in 2002.

76. It is alleged that the bulk of the content of negotiations revolved more around the payment to be made for agreement to go onto the Fidesz election lists and create a good image for Fidesz and the Hungarian government in the eyes of the European Union.

77. It is also alleged that although the Fidesz government was offering payment to close their agreement electoral agreement, no demands were made, in exchange, by that Roma "leadership", to terminate the abuse of Roma children, who, at that time, were being driven, in increasing numbers, into Special schools.

78. The Hungarian government and Roma leadership, at that time, collaborated in promoting the Hungarian model for minority self-governments for Roma as an example to other EU candidate countries. Some officials from the European Union governments and Commission were indeed misled by this propaganda which some allege diverted attention from more important matters such as the plight of Roma children in Special schools


79. One of the most disappointing issues, for Roma and non-Roma Hungarians alike, to emerge from these events has been that money seems to have been the basis of agreement. There were no accompanying announcements concerning any effective solution to the deepening Special school human rights scandal directly affecting Romani children. These children, all of whom are Hungarian citizens, were therefore let down by this leadership. In this sort of environment, such representation if less effective in looking after the affairs of the Roma and representing their interests in Parliament or anywhere else.

HUNGARY 1984-2003
5 year cumulative totals of funds transferred
under Special school scheme in Euro millions

Euro 60 million Euro 85 million Euro 182 million Euro 484 million


80. Between 1989 and 2003 we estimate that the number or Roma children in Special schools in Hungary increased from some 15,000 to 70,000.

81. During this same period the total financial transfers have been of the order of Euro 751.25 million.

82. Some Euro 75 million can be accounted for in terms of teachers salaries.

83. Some Euro 676.25 million remains unaccounted for.


84. Between 1989 and 2003 we estimate that the number of Roma children in Special schools in the Czech republic increased from 15,000 to 65,000

85. During this same period the total financial transfers have been of the order of Euro 850 million.

86. Some Euro 95 million can be accounted for in terms of teachers salaries.

87. Some Euro 755 million remains unaccounted for.


88. Between 1989 and 2003 we estimate that the number or Roma children in Special schools in the Slovak republic increased from 10,000 to 80,000.

89. During this same period the total financial transfers have been of the order of Euro 700 million.

90. Some Euro 54 million can be accounted for in terms of teachers salaries.

91. Some Euro 646 million remains unaccounted for.


92. The summary figures for Central Europe are provided in the graph below.

93. This shows that the number of children in Special schools are estimated to have risen from some 40,000 in 1989 to 215,000 in 2003 in spite of the prolonged discussions and undertakings with the European Union to reduce their number and in direct contravention of Article 13 of the European Treaty.

94. Some Euro 2.30 billion was transferred out to local authorities under the Special school scheme during this same period and around Euro 224 million can be accounted for in expenditures of extra teacher salaries.

95. This leaves, for Central Europe as a whole a total of some Euro 2..076 billion not being accounted for within the education domain.

Central Europe - 1989-2003
Special school populations, financial transfers
funds accounted for and unaccounted for

Item Czech republic Hungary Slovak republic Central Europe
1989 Special
school population
15,000 15,000 10,000 40,000
2003 Special
school population
65,000 70,000 80,000 215,000
Financial transfers Euro 850 million Euro 750 million Euro 700 million Euro 2.3 billion
Accounted for Euro 95 million Euro 75 million Euro 54 million Euro 224 million
Unaccounted for Euro 755 million Euro 676 million Euro 646 million Euro 2.08 billion


96. ECRE has reviewed and estimated the overall impact of this policy in terms of impact on:
  • the Roma
  • mainstream society
  • society in general
  • the economies of Central Europe

97. In central Europe, the average expectancy of life of Roma is some 60 years.

98. The previous regime and the church schools saw Roma as manual labourers and prepared the Roma children with the minimum preparation for life as manual labour in a albeit within a system offering full employment. The more recent rise in significance of the Special schools has only intensified the impact of the system in robbing the majority of all generations of Roma in Central Europe of an adequate education.

99. The issue is not that the Roma do not value education. The issue is that they have been previously "managed" under a paternalistic system and, within the last 20 years, have been bullied and forced to place their children into the Special school system for no other reason than the financial greed of others.

100. The direct outcome of this has been a pervasive, proactive and destructive institutional racial prejudice which has created a poorly educated Roma population.

101. As a result Roma have been unable to follow professional training courses because they lack the basic school qualifications to make them eligible for such training.

102. This tragic and unfortunate outcome is not a result of some ethnic character, or syndrome, but rather is the result of the covert actions of mainstream society leaders and officials.

103. This has to be one of the most perverse examples, in modern Europe, of institutional racial discrimination.

104. This system is in operation today (February 2003). It stands as a monumental affront to common humanity.

105. This system maintains a horrendous annual tradition. At the beginning of each school year, Roma children are, like any children, are happy and apprehensive about going to school for the first time. All children, on the first day congregate at the normal school. But, at the tender age of 6 or 7 many of the Roma children are told by some stranger that they have to go to another school. The other children witness this process. Some, or the majority of the Roma children, are then grouped together and lead by a teacher to the "other" (Special) school. This is a major contrast to the normal school they have just left. Special chools are invariably badly kept, ill-equipped and dull.

106. The process of "selection" frequently falls overtly outside any considerations of decorum or basic educational criteria. In some villages and towns, the process is so cynical, that the local mayor or politicians are directly involved in the process checking to make sure the "numbers" are right.

107. In the majority of cases, the "background" of the parents is used as the "deciding factor" in whether to send a child to a Special school or not. As a result, the Special school system has become self-perpetuating with many new Special school children having parents who themselves went through the same system.

108. The shock to which these children are exposed stays with them for the rest of their life. As normal, this process occurred during the beginning of the academic year 2002 and, if nothing happens to change matters, it will be repeated at the beginning of the academic year 2003.

109. On a broader, and historic basis, these countries have maintained, through the former educational system for the Roma and an increasing influence of the Special school system, a systematized denial of an adequate education to an increasing number of Roma. In substantive terms it would seem that abuse of the system, that is classifying children as Special when in fact they were normal, accelerated during the 1990s.

110. An increasing proportion of Special school children was and is made up of children from the Roma community on a proactive selective basis.

111. As a result a large proportion of Roma amongst people received an inadequate education. Without adequate school qualifications they could not, and can not, pursue professional training courses or higher education.

112. We reject the broad claims that Roma do not value education and would not take advantage of a good education if this were provided.

113. The inability of Roma parents to be able look after the interests of their children because of direct or implied threats from officials is unacceptable. The anguish and stress this has caused to Roma parents is something which is impossible to measure.

114. The lack of professional training and lower income levels resulting from the need to follow less skilled occupations is another source of stress for people who want the best for their families.

115. The inability to maintain at least average income levels has meant, in general, a more difficult life in terms of normal comforts as well as ability to purchase good quality food.

116. Stress associated with this general circumstance has had direct effects on the health status of the Roma and their longevity in general.

117. Parents who see their families undergoing the normal abuse, lack of work and resulting suffering of their sons and daughters also suffer from stress and this condition can often lead to an early death as a result of strokes or heart attacks.

118. The life expectancy of the Roma population is around 60 years whereas that of the mainstream population is some 75 years.

The grand mythology of language as a constraint

119. There is almost nothing of significance, in the current social and economic status of the Roma, which can said to be caused by "cultural" differences. For example, one of the popular myths, nurtured and built upon by academics and many government advisers, is that a major constraint on "integration" of Roma is the fact that some Roma speak some form of a Romani language. This is used as a backdrop issue to effectively slow things down and add comfort of those who in fact do not want to improve the condition of the Roma. In the case of Hungary, over 78% of the Roma only speak Hungarian, the mainstream language and all of the other Roma speak Hungarian as well as some Romani. In reality, the vast majority of Roma, and increasingly school age children, speak the mainstream languages of Czech, Hungarian or Slovak. Hungarian Roma in the Slovak republic and Romania are bilingual (Slovak and Hungarian or Romanian and Hungarian).
In practice, for example, in the case of the Gaelic language in Ireland and the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, knowledge and the use of the language by such communities has not been an impediment to their past full integration into normal schools receiving instruction in the mainstream language (English) nor has this prevented full integration and successful economic development also using the medium of English, the mainstream language.Maintaining the Romani language is a separate and valid issue, as the maintenance of Gaelic is, but this has no impact at all on the ability of Gaels or the Roma to function effectively using a mainstream language.
Their circumstances and status are the result of an unfair imposition which starts early in life in the form of the Special schools and continues throughout life in the form of covert and overt racial prejudice.

120. The cause of the drastic circumstances of the Roma is not caused by a defect in their culture but rather by serious flaws in the integrity of leaders in mainstream society as well as professional incompetence and irresponsibility on the part of educational officials.

121. Because of the financial greed, politicians, educational officials and others have taken illicit funds each year. The cost to the Roma population in terms of cumulative earned income lost (opportunity cost) has been massive. By the same measure, the loss in the overall standards of living of these Central European countries has been substantially less than it might have been (see below under Impact on economy).

Theatrics of integration

122. In 2000, ECRE warned of the possibility that Central European local authorities might attempt to mislead any EU missions by "closing" Special schools and declaring "integration" by simply placing the same Special students into a lower "stream" within the normal school. (Romani Emancipation , Annual European Progress Report, ECRE, 2000).

123. At the beginning of the academic year 2002, many local authorities announced, locally, that schools were to be "integrated". However, as feared, this has turned out to be a cynical process in which the Roma or "Special" children have simply been relegated to a "Special" stream. The other children, however, remain fully aware of the stigma attached to that group.

124. Today, there are less and less physical buildings identified as Special schools but in most villages in Hungary one can recognize Special school children by the fact that they are the ones who go on long walks outside "their" school, and led by their teachers, while the other "normal" children dedicate themselves to their studies.

125. Today, in 2003, the local authorities do not want to see a reduction in Special school funding. So they continue to feign positive action while manipulating the system to continue to gain this money at the expense of the futures of the Roma children within this "stream".

Not just a children's education issue

126 The impact of the Special schools spreads into the current adult Roma population and is reflected in the lack of professional training and in ability to obtain well-paid work.

127. Solving the Special school problem, that is closing them, integrating schools and raising the quality of the content of school curricula for Roma children is essential. However, this does not solve the problem of the adults.

128. Indeed, there is a completely unjustified attitude on the part of some well-meaning individuals, educationalists and even some NGO leaders and staff, who consider the adults to be beyond hope and that all efforts should go to the children.

129. ECRE completely rejects this approach since it would only solve a small part of the problem. Roma families need to be able to earn more and enjoy a better standard of living. To solve this specific problem there is a need for investment in employment generating projects which have professional training as an essential component of the project.


130 The mainstream children, who all witness this process, build an image in their mind, as early a 6 or 7 years of age, that many Roma children are "stupid". This impression stays with mainstream individuals, also for the rest of their lives.

131. The whole process inculcates a form of mind control by causing the Roma children to feel inferior and the mainstream children to feel superior. This is the foundation, the process of nurturing a society infected with the sickness of racial prejudice. This process is alive and well today and will repeat itself in the autumn of 2003.


132. This system reflects a failed political leadership where success in politics is reflected in the gaining of access to personal riches as opposed to working to advance the interests of all segments of society as a whole.

133 To some degree this is considered to be the result of three things:
  • The old system
  • Party lists
  • Racism
The old system

134. Under the Communist or Soviet system politicians became extremely adept at milking the system and gaining extra income by illicit means. Invariably such benefits were only available to so-called "party members". This "tradition" has continued since the failure of the Soviet economy and the "independence" of the Central European countries.

Party lists

135 In some countries, Hungary for example, over 50% of elected politicians are not in fact elected by direct vote but are put up on party lists and gain their seats automatically depending upon the fortune of the party at the election. Such individuals are not elected as individuals and feel very little onus to serve the electorate or a constituency but rather serve their party.


136. Clearly a system which uses a specific group as a commodity in exchange for financial gain is prejudiced against that group. This self-perpetuating system feeds racial prejudice by becoming a self-fulfilling prophesy in which people can say, without fear of contradiction, "Roma are uneducated" or "Roma don't care about education" or "Roma are happy to send their children to Special schools" or "Roma are unemployed, they don't work" or "Roma live off welfare, they are a drain on society".

137. This is a sinister form of racism since the conspiracy of silence over the real motivation behind Special schools has convinced many that Roma are indeed a problem because of their nature or outlook.

138. The populations in Central Europe have lived with the Special school system for so long they appear not to be able to understand what it represents in terms of a horrendous assault on common humanity. And their political leadership is so impoverished that it too sees no reason to comment. Indeed, we have been told that this system could never become a political issue because the name of the game is to become elected and then enjoy the financial benefits provided by such a system.

Who is the burden on the state?

139. An interesting perspective of this process is that many politicians criticize the Roma for being dependent upon the public purse for their survival. And yet the Special school financial corruption, managed by these politicians or their peers represents a far greater burden on the state. These same politicians live on that same public purse. The Roma survive on what they might be given whereas the politicians are able to make use of more than their fair share of funds which were directly, or indirectly, justified in the name of Roma children. The greater burden on the state is, without doubt, the corruption of these politicians.

140. Within such a cynical political environment any excesses by one government would never to criticized by an incoming government because it is they who will now enjoy the financial benefits.

141. With such leadership aided and abetted by a perverse elite who manage this feudal system, the true freedom for the Roma is never contemplated.

Broad discouragement of Roma

142. This system is geared to discouraged Roma initiative.

143. The foundation of the frustration of the ability of the Roma to be free to pursue freedom and happiness is to be found in the Special schools.

144. The dynamism of youth and the natural tendency of young parents to question decisions which reduce the opportunities for their children is killed off by the relentless and ruthless prevarication and threats of officials and politicians.

145. The Roma to such people are little more than cattle in a farm. They are rounded up and kept in a dingy location for 9 to 10 years, each earning for the corrupt local authority Euro 17,500. The children do not even have to be fed, that is their family's problem. A school with classes of 25 children over the same period will earn Euro 437,500. Roma are far better business than cattle.

146. In return, the Roma children receive absolutely nothing other than a status of being uneducated and unable to compete in the future labour markets. Unable to do better for themselves and their families, unable to provide for their children in a way comparable to the rest of society.

147. Overall, this system, which passes for little more than a criminal conspiracy, breeds contempt for the Roma on the part of the mainstream and cultivates a resignation and despair on the part of Roma.


148. We have estimated the orders of magnitude of the loss in Gross National Product in Central Europe caused by the educational deficit enforced upon the Roma.

149. This has been based upon estimates of the proportion of the Roma population who have been systematically de-capacitized in terms of professional abilities as a direct result of having been subjected to Special school treatment in the Czech republic, Hungary and the Slovak republic.

150. The Special schools have negative impacts on several important economic factors including:
  • confidence to take initiative
  • broad educational capacity
  • professional capacity
151. These personal motivational and capability issues are further impacted in a negative fashion by:
  • a general lack of encouragement by others
  • a difficulty in purchasing land and buildings
  • a prohibitive bank loan conditions, including excessive and usually unrealistic collateral requirements, for new initiatives
  • a frequent failure of local authority personnel to provide adequate orientation
152. These circumstances combine to create a situation where, in general, Roma, and especially those who have been subjected to Special schools, are unlikely to achieve average level of economic productivity and therefore income levels

153. This will have a serious impact on the economies of Central Europe. We set out the reasoning and logic behind this statement in the following paragraphs.

National populations

154. The current population projections for the Czech republic, Hungary and the Slovak republic are presented in the table below. All countries have a negative population growth and as a result the total populations in all countries will fall.

Central Europe 2000-2050
Population projections in millions

2000 2010 2020 2030 2040 2050
Czech republic 10.3 10.2 9.9 9.4 8.7 8.0
Hungary 10.1 9.8 9.5 9.0 8.5 7.8
Slovak republic 5.4 5.5 5.5 5.3 5.1 4.8

155. The expected declines in the total population figures for these countries are set out in the following table.

Central Europe 2000-2020 & 2000-2050
Loss in population

2000-2020 2000-2050
Czech republic 836,000 2,257,000
Hungary 308,000 2,302,000
Slovak republic (increase 67,053) 643,000

156. In summary, Hungary's population will decline by some 300,000, or 6%, by 2020 and the population will decline by 2.3 million, that is 22%, by 2050. The Czech Republic will face a decline in population of some 3.7% by 2020 and 22% by 2050.

157. These figures are based upon natural population growth figures.

158. In practical terms, when these countries join the European Union there will be a significant brain drain made up of professional individuals who will be able to earn up to five times more than they can earn in their countries by working for European private enterprises.

159. This will have an impact on the performance and productivity of these economies.

160. The Roma living in these countries are nationals and citizens of these countries. In planning for economic development Central European countries have tended to concentrate on initiatives which favour the mainstream portion of the population which is declining in numbers. It is this segment amongst which there will be the most significant loss as a result of the brain drain to the European Union.

Mainstream and Roma population numbers

161. Over the time frames considered, the proportion of the population in these countries who are members of the Roma community will increase significantly. Projections of the Roma population in these countries over the same period are provided below.

Central Europe 2000-2050
Population projections for whole countries and Roma
Highest Likelihood Estimate based upon an upper limit of Roma natural growth rate of 2% pa  (Source: GeoHive & SEEL)

2000 2010 2020 2030 2040 2050
Czech republic 10.3 10.2 9.9 9.4 8.7 8.0
Roma pop 0.36 0.41 0.50 0.61 0.74 0.90
% Roma 3.5% 4.0% 5.0% 6.5% 8.5% 11.3%
Hungary 10.1 9.8 9.5 9.0 8.5 7.8
Roma pop 0.61 0.74 0.91 1.10 1.35 1.64
% Roma 6.0% 7.6% 9.6% 12.2% 15.9% 20.9%
Slovakia 5.4 5.5 5.5 5.3 5.1 4.8
Roma pop 0.61 0.74 0.89 1.10 1.34 1.63
% Roma 11.2% 13.5% 16.4% 20.5% 26.2% 34.2%

2000 baseline established on basis of natural growth estimates from 1994 figures.

162. The table above was generated on the basis of an upper limit to expected natural growrh rates for Roma of 2% p.a. The result is an increase in the percentage of Roma in the Czech republic of from 3.5% in 2000 to some 6.5% in 2030 and 11.3% by 2050. In the case of Hungary these percentages rise from 6% in 2000 to 12.2% in 2030 and 20.9% by 2050. In the Slovak republic these percentages rise from 11% in 2000, to 20.5% in 2030 and 34.2% in 2050.

163. Between 2000 and 2030 the total Roma population is likely to rise from some 1.67 million to 2,85 million and to around 4.2 million by 2050, a 250% increase in numbers.

Roma population within the school age segment and the Special schools

164. In reviewing the Roma school age populations during the last 40 years by backward projection it is possible to estimate the percentage of Roma children which have ended up in Special schools.

165. Backward projection of population numbers at the rate of 2.25% pa generates total population estimates for Hungary as shown in the table below.

Hungary 1989-2003
Represemtations of Roma children
within the 7 - 16 years age group in Special schools

Hungary Roma population 7-16 age group Special school (SS) population % Roma in SS Number of Roma in SS % of all Roma age group in SS
1989 478,000 119,000 15,000 0.12 1,800 1.5%
1990 488,000 122,000 15,000 0.12 1,800 1.5%
1991 499,000 124,000 20,000 0.20 4,000 3.2%
1992 510,000 127,000 25,000 0.25 6,250 4.9%
1993 522,000 130,000 25,000 0.30 7,500 5.8%
1994 534,000 134,000 30,000 0.35 10,500 7.8%
1995 546,000 137,000 30,000 0.40 12,000 8.8%
1996 558,000 140,000 30,000 0.45 113,500 9.6%
1997 571,000 143,000 30,000 0.50 15,000 10.5%
1998 584,000 146,000 35,000 0.60 21,000 14.3%
1999 597,000 149,000 42,500 0.75 31,875 21.4%
2000 610,000 152,000 52,500 0.90 47,2550 31.1%
2001 624,000 156,000 60,000 0.95 57,000 36.5%
2002 638,000 160,000 70,000 0.98 68,600 42.9%
2003 652,000 163,000 70,000 0.98 68,600 42.0%

Labour productivity segments & economic impacts

166. The above figures for Hungary serve to show that an increasing number and proportion of Roma children are receiving a defective education which robs them of future prospects because of a lack of professional training.

167. With the Roma making up an increasing proportion of the Hungarian new workforce, this "policy" is high disruptive of the future economic prospects of the country. It has already inflicted a serious level of underperformance upon the country during the last half century.

168. In order to provide some guidance to the economic losses to the Hungarian economy which result from the lack of education and training of the Roma population, it is necessary to separate the economic contribution of the mainstream from the economic contribution of the Roma. In broad terms, on a per capita basis, the Roma earn approximately 16.6% of the per capita income of the mainstream. In the case of Hungary this works out at a per capita contribution of Euro 12,000 for the mainstream and Euro 2,000 for Roma.

Opportunity cost

169. In 2000, with a GNP of Euro 115 billion the Hungarian mainstream segment contributed Euro 114 billion and the Roma component some Euro 1.2 billion. If economic and human resources planning strategies had enabled the Roma to have an earning capacity equivalent to the mainstream, then the Hungarian GNP would have been some Euro 7.3 billion higher.

170. This loss of Euro 7.3 billion to the Hungarian economy is the result of a failure to introduce effective educational and training programmes to address the needs of the Roma. This loss, resulting from policy inaction, is known as the opportunity cost.

171. As the mainstream population numbers decline and the Roma population increases, the opportunity costs of inaction will increase dramatically. The opportunity costs for such inaction have been calculated for the years 2010, 2020, 2030, 2040 and 2050. These figures show that the opportunity cost will increase from Euro 7.3 billion in 2000 to some Euro 16.5 billion by 2050.

172. In real terms if future Hungarian economic activity is projected up until 2050 with no change in the relativities of non-Roma and Roma income levels the Hungarian GNP will decline by some 37% to roughly 63% of its current real value.

Hungary 2000-2050
The opportunity cost in Euro billion of non-development
of Roma segment to the Hungarian economy. Current real growth
pattern with no proactive development of Roma population component.

2000 2010 2020 2030 2040 2050
Non-Roma pop 9.53 9.05 8.48 7.75 6.82 5.74
Roma pop 0.61 0.74 0.91 1.10 1.35 1.64
Mainstream/capita 12,000 12,000 12,000 12,000 12,000 12,000
Roma/capita 2,000 2,000 2,000 2,000 2,000 2,000
Mainstream GNP Component 114B 108B 102B 93B 82B 69B
Roma GNP Component 1.22B 1.49B 1.81B 2.21B 2.69B 3.28B
Projected GNP 116B 110B 104B 95B 85B 72B
Opportunity Cost 6.10B 7.44B 9.06B 11.05B 13.47B 16.42B

Erosion in Hungary's competitive status

173. Naturally, this decline will not be this dramatic because of innovation and improvements in technology and technique will result in higher overall performance. But the figures in paragraph 172 represent a strain on the economy created by an imbalance in basic capabilities which relate to school and professional education. In the terms of accession to the European Union this imbalance will crate a significant strain on Hungary's ability to compete and thereby improve the overall welfare of the population.

174. Unless the basic professional capability of the Roma population is radically improved, the so-called transfer costs from the central budget to support social welfare, family benefits and the unemployed, for the whole population, and not just the Roma segment, are likely to become increasingly unsustainable by 2030.

Hungary's one option choice

175. Hungary has a choice. This is to recognize that the Hungarian citizens, who are also Roma, are a vital human resource upon which the future prosperity of Hungary depends. The physical realities of the population dynamics of the mainstream or non-Roma population make this an undisputed fact and there is nothing which can change this underlying trend.

176. During the last decade, Hungary has lost something of the order of Euro 50 billion as a result of the lack of training and professional capacity of its increasing Roma population.

177. During the last decade, Roma children, to an increasing degree, have been placed in Special schools. Now more than 40% of the relevant age group is in a Special school. Current Hungarian policy is proactively laying the foundation of a serious future deficit in the performance of the economy.

178. The children entering Special schools now (including the new contingents entering so-called "Special kindergartens") will enter the Hungarian labour market in 2013-2015 when already Hungary will be losing some Euro 8 billion each year as a result of under-trained Roma.

Central European losses

179. Currently, in global terms Central Europe has an annual performance deficit estimated at around Euro 15 billion as a direct result of this policy motivated by financial corruption and racial prejudice.

180. The European Union has provided some Euro 66 million to assist Roma and some Euro 10 billion for other programmes, during the last decade. Central European governments have been remiss in not actively promoting training and have knowingly maintained the Special school system, indeed have intensified its use, which has and will contribute to a significantly reduced earning capacity of the Roma. The result of this poor planning and policy decision making has depressed gross national products by at least Euro 150 billion over the same period.


181. The European Union promotes policies for training, labour mobility, anti-discrimination and economic development. Currently, the Central European economies have followed policies which do not reflect a serious appreciation of the importance of such policies on the scale required to effectively include their Roma citizens.

182. It is as if the Central European governments consider such matters to be issues of EU conformity to be followed as a basis for qualifying for accession to the European Union as opposed to being valid and significant policies of direct relevance to their specific countries.

183. The cost of this irresponsibility is already apparent in the poor performances of these economies in so far as most could be operating with GNPs roughly 5%-7.5% higher than is the case. This potential performance shortfall will dramatically increase as the proportion of Roma entering the workforce increases.

Rationalising EU funding

184. Already, Central European governments are demanding much in their negotiations with the European Union especially in respect to central budget transfers from Brussels to national governments.

185. It is necessary however, to re-assess the degree to which demands made on the EU central budget are created as a result of:
  • lack of or inappropriate labour policy planning
  • failure to implement Roma-related training and employment projects
  • proactive delivery of completely deficient education to Roma children under the Special school system
  • diversion of essential funds under the Special schools programmes
186. The Central European economies currently run at an annual economic shortfall of around Euro 15 billion directly due to inappropriate policies applied to the Roma. This shortfall increases each year.

A European social problem or national human resources issue?

187. With accession, this failure to perform will become more apparent as transparency improves and no doubt these countries will begin to try and re-constitute the issue as a "social problem" related to the Roma and as something of EU responsibility. This would of course be no more than a side-stepping of national responsibilities for human resources planning and would do much to reduce the prestige of the governments of the Czech republic, Hungary and Slovakia.

188. The evidence is clear that this is not a Roma problem, a social problem or a cultural problem. It is an issue created directly by inappropriate policies of governments with an irresponsible leadership in terms of securing a sound economic future for their people and basing their motivations on principles in support of actions which accept the importance of our common humanity.


Criminal intent & professional incompetence

189. The ministries of education and local authority departments of education already manage projects funded by the Commission of the European Union.

190. Within the terms of the law of Europe or any member state of the Union, professionals involved in something like the Special schools would be considered to have acted with criminal intent because they permit funding, within the educational system, and officially destined for a specific target group (Special children), but be subsequently diverted into illicit activities without making comment nor reporting this to those who might take action to stop this abuse.

191. The same officials would also be clearly classified as being professionally incompetent because they, as "educators", consider it to be appropriate to use young Roma children as base commodities in exchange for raising funds of the order of Euro millions each year. This they do knowingly, not on the basis of educational criteria or advancing the status of education of the children concerned, but rather at the whim of the predilections of their managers or at the request of local politicians.

Debasement of the educational profession

192. More perversely, here we have educators knowingly removing from children the educational provisions essential to guarantee a productive future.

No place in education

193. In Europe such people would have long ago have lost their jobs for professional incompetence and/or have served prison sentences.

European Union

194. Under the advice of Central European governments, the Commission of the European Union has, since 1994, allocated a tiny sum of Euro 66 million (mainly under Phare) to Roma projects.

195. During this same period Central European governmental transfers of Special funds exceeded Euro 1.3 billion in direct proportion to the number of, largely, Roma children allocated to Special schools. In this process, governments have cynically thrown the productive futures of these children away by banishing them to the dead end Special school system.

196. As a result, the European Commission has been pouring grossly insufficient funds into a massive cash flow hole created intentionally by dishonest politicians and covered up by fraudulent accounting and reporting within the governments, ministries of education and local authorities.

197. It has to be asked why the European Commission is providing such funding to Central European governments when it is known that around Euro 375 million are being diverted away from educational ends and, in particular, the Roma, each year.

198. It is clearly totally irresponsible of the European Commission to be allocating European public funds to fill in financial gaps created willingly, and out of sight, by the very ministries and local authorities the Commission has agreed to assist.

199. There can be no justification for the European Commission providing such money under the prevailing circumstances.

200. In global terms, as a result of this irresponsible policy, motivated primarily by financial greed and racial prejudice, Central Europe has an annual performance deficit (GNP foregone) of in excess of Euro 15 billion.

201. The European Union has provided some Euro 66 million to assist Roma and some Euro 10 billion for other programmes, in Central Europe, during the last decade. Central European governments have knowingly maintained a system which has reduced the earning capacity of the Roma and this has depressed gross national products by at least Euro 150 billion over the same period.

202. In other words, the European Union has provided some Euro 10 billion in European public funds to assist countries whose governments have thrown away some Euro 150 billion over comparable periods of time.


203. The European Union has to review the ability of such governments to manage any European public funds where the record of the management of their own national funds is so abysmal.


204. The European Union has to review the prudence of basing programmes on the word and negotiating stances of governments who have been guilty of fraud in their pronouncements that they do not know accurately the number of Roma in Special schools when in fact they hold accurate data on these numbers.

205. The European Union has to review in all seriousness if the cost of such countries conforming to the performance requirements for participation in the European Monetary System can be so justifiably high in terms of human rights abuse, lack of transparency and irresponsible economic management.

206. The European Union has to seriously consider whether or not such governments should be permitted to continue to manage their economic and financial affairs in a way which represents a direct and flagrant contravention of Article 13 of the Treaty of Rome.

207. The European Union needs to review specifically how the European Commission, with programmes and presence in Central Europe for over a decade, has managed to produce Country Progress Reports on the progress of countries in meeting accession criteria which approve the performance and, by implication, the behaviour of such governments.

208. These Central European countries plainly have more than sufficient funds from national sources, and in particular the central Special school funds, to secure a sound future for Roma children.

209. Accordingly, the European Union needs press the governments of the Czech republic, Hungary and Slovakia to accelerate their conformity to EU educational norms with respect to human rights and compliances with Article 13 by:
  • closing the Special schools forthwith
  • requesting that the current generous national Special school budgets be spent on Roma children education
  • introduction of adequate monitoring and reporting on use of Special school funds
  • introducing, forthwith, an adequate curriculum for Roma children comparable to normal schools
  • accelerating de facto school integration
210. In the light of progress on the requirements set out under paragraph 209, the European Union should then review the then current status of these countries in respect to their planned accession by 2004.

Urgent need for human resources planning

211. The resolution to this issue of Roma schooling is only part of the problem.

212. So far we have not reviewed the issue of the circumstances of the adult Roma population. There is an urgent need for a review of the scale and the means of addressing the needs of the current post-school age Roma population (within the 16 to 65 age group).

213. There is a need to review needs and identify means of attracting investment for sustainable employment creation for the Roma which promote greater sekf-determination and inclusion as members of Central European society within the European Union.

214. Both of these areas, training and investment, represent fundamentally important aspects of human resources planning for Central Europe and will be the subject of a separate report.


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ECRE provides a non-exclusive representation for the promotion of the improvement in the social and economic conditions of the Roma within the European Union and in countries preparing to join the European Union. Membership of ECRE includes concerned Roma and non-Roma European citizens, private organizations, non governmental organizations and, in particular, those working in the field of Roma (Gypsy) community economic development. ECRE sees economic emancipation as the principal first step towards self-reliance and effective social integration of the Roma.

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ECRE undertakes analyses to identify and advocate practical social and economic development policies and actions to secure the effective social and economic inclusion of the Roma in the European Union and countries surrounding the European Union and, in particular, in pre-accession countries. ECRE provides a forum for reviewing social and economic development policy and the establishment and management of :
  • community-based training and extension services
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  • a Romani development equity fund
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