Istvan Aba-Horvath

Ashoka Fellow


This profile was prepared when Istvan Aba-Horvath was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2000.
The New Idea
Roma children typically care for large families, a role that necessitates earning money from an early age. To accommodate this need, Istvan has designed a program that allows Gypsy youth to work and attend school simultaneously. Accredited by the state, Istvan's program enables Roma students to receive full-time salaries for half-time work, with the other half of their time spent completing their studies. Additionally, his program allows Gypsy students to finish primary school in less than a year, completing four grades in a compressed period of time. To motivate teachers, many of whom are reluctant to work with Roma children, Istvan has convinced state and local governments to increase the salaries of participating teachers.

For Roma students, completing primary school is an especially important first step to finding jobs. Later, they need additional training and opportunities. Istvan is working with employment organizers, job centers, and local governments to secure jobs for graduates of his program. He is facilitating increased dialogue among Gypsy and non-Gypsy communities, and is raising the profile of Roma through community forums and media.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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