ISSA Member in Hungary Ensuring Roma Inclusion in Kindergartens

Starting in 2020 and funded by the European Union, the project “Inclusive kindergartens for the quality education of Roma – ending Roma segregation” operates in 11 kindergartens, reaching more than 1000 children. The project consortium is formed by the Municipality of Józsefváros (8th district of Budapest) – the most multicultural district of Budapest, Partners Hungary Foundation – an ISSA Member organization and REYN Hungary host organization – and the Rosa Parks Foundation.

The project aims to offer children with different ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds quality pre-school education – both for the disadvantaged and middle-class families.  Each kindergarten has to have a balanced mix of Roma, children with special educational needs and foreign children.

With the leadership committed to ending segregation, the municipality provided the methodology framework aiming to combat the discrimination and/or segregation of Roma children, enhanced the integration of students from various ethnic and social economic backgrounds, and adjusted the kindergartens’ pedagogical methodology to be inclusive and of high quality. One of the first steps for the development of the programme was to renovate the kindergarten buildings and make them more attractive to all parents.

The task of Partners Hungary Foundation’was to ensure that both the district level and institutional strategic planning and its implementation are carried out with the involvement of all stakeholders, and that kindergartens updated their methodological tools and offer new services in line with modern educational principles and the expectations of parents.

Among other contributions, Partners Hungary developed a method that was implemented in each kindergarten in the 8th district. The “Micro-project system” lays on participation with a bottom-up approach, motivation and incentives and support (trainings, peer learning exchanges) when it comes to kindergarten teachers.

In addition, the consortium introduced new educational programmes in all 11 kindergartens such as:

  • English (play-based English as Second Language sessions)
  • Magic Kindergarten
  • Minecraft program (educational use of Information and Communications Technology)
  • Superar music program
  • Gastroeducation
  • Green kindergartens (climate awareness)

Altogether a total of 48 microprojects were implemented.

After two years, the collaborative project has already produced a number of excellent outcomes: the focus on early childhood education has resulted in a child-friendly municipality, the kindergartens went through an organisational development process and teachers took part in professional development. New educational programs have been initiated, resulting in renewed profiles of the kindergartens and created more space for innovation.

The complex methodology and tools which were developed and tested within this project will be available to all municipalities and other kindergarten managers  who would like to bring about change to their kindergartens based on the same principles.


Ivett Judit Kovács (2023) Young magicians in kindergarten: Skill development through performing magic tricks, Theory Into Practice.

Kovács, I. J., Deák, É., Erőss, G. (2022). A complex intervention for inclusive kindergartens – analysis of a sozialmarie prize winner innovation in Budapest. Conference paper. ICERI2022 Proceedings. 15th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation, 7-9 November, 2022, Seville, Spain.

REYN Award in Hungary Recognized Roma in Early Childhood Field

SIx Early Childhood professionals working with Roma and marginalized children in Hungary were recognized during REYN Award 2022 that took place at the end of the last year. Being the initiative of REYN Hungary, this is already the second time the Award is allocated. The first time happened two years before and had a great success.

The number of Roma early childhood professionals is very low in Hungary. Research shows that the communication between early childhood institutions and Roma families can be helped a lot by Roma early childhood professionals. REYN Hungary aims to raise this number, and at the same time to spotlight their work, and raise their appreciation by the non-Roma communities, and by Roma children.

“With the second launch of the REYN Hungary Award in five categories, we are continuing our advocacy in supporting the professionalization of Roma in EC institutions and advocating for programmatic and structural solutions for building the Roma ECD workforce. With REYN Awardees we are promoting Roma EC in the field, and attract and support Roma in the EC career. With the huge media campaign we become visible and advocate for Roma in the EC workforce,” says Zsuzsa Laszlo, REYN Hungary coordinator.

Anyone could propose candidates for the Award. For that an online form had to be filled in, presenting the candidate’s work and information about what she/he does with Roma children. In 2022 there were 25 nominees.

Therefore, REYN Kindergarten Teacher of the year is Gina Rézműves, REYN Kindergarten Teacher assistant of the year is Lea Fényes, REYN Teacher of the year is Elemer Puporka, REYN Pedagogical assistant of the year is Elemér Puporka, and REYN Social worker of the year is Károly Búza and Szilvia Pádár.  This year there was an extra category, REYN doula of the year, Viktoria Vadász. All of the awardees received 50,000 Hungarian forints (equivalent of about 125 euros).

This recognition contributes to the social inclusion of Roma specialists, as well as introduces the wider public to those Roma early childhood specialists who do outstanding work among children. REYN Hungary believes that positive Roma role models help the next generation succeed.

Building a Professional Community – REYN Hungary Secrets

REYN Hungary is celebrating its seventh birthday with a vibrant professional community, two networks, and a great visibility in Hungary. Let us take a look at how they developed this community and what are their aspirations for the next years.

REYN Hungary was one of the first national REYNs that was launched in 2014. During mapping the needs of the professionals and stakeholders, initiated by REYN International, more than 70 early childhood professionals were asked cross-sectorally about their aspirations in a professional community. Answers were analyzed, and the national objectives of REYN were developed. From that year on, REYN Hungary is asking members about their needs and aspirations on a yearly basis.

After mapping the needs, the most challenging step was to develop trust in a professional community that did not exist before. In uncertain political and economic times it was challenging to make professionals trust hardly known networks . For many members it was the first time to sign a membership form. REYN Hungary has one more challenging task – to convince people in Central and Eastern Europe that the signature they give when applying to be a REYN member does not cause them trouble and does not cost anything. Building trust, while building REYN Hungary, meant and still means a continuous personal communication with members. It might be a personalized newsletter, a regular mail, study visits, a phone call or talking in life sessions. Although the network has more than 700 members, personal communication is still the first and foremost characteristic of the network. The motto of REYN Hungary is “Sharing is caring.”

Other than regular mapping, the needs of the members and having a personal approach are the other important elements visible for the public. Advocacy campaigns, REYN Award, media presence – by all of this the trust of current and future members is created. Personalized national REYN logo and branded merchandise for the workshops display the message that members are equally important for the network and for Romani children and families.

“Plans for the next years is just to keep on.If we can keep the magic 100+ in a year (that means that each year we promise ourselves to add 100 more members that year), and we succeed to achieve this goal so far, and the smiling faces at the events, we will be happy,” says Zsuzsa Laszlo, REYN Hungary coordinator.

Inclusive Kindergartens in the 8th District in Budapest

A complex kindergarten development program was launched in the 8th District Municipality in Budapest at the beginning of this year. The program is implemented in partnership with Partners Hungary Foundation/REYN Hungary (PHA) and Rosa Parks Foundation that received a tender from the European Commission.

In recent years, large numbers of young people, including middle-class families with small children, have moved to Józsefváros (the 8th district), which for a long time was one of the most disadvantaged areas in Budapest. However, these newly arrived families do not enroll their children into the local kindergartens (in many cases with a Roma majority), which prevents the possibility of building a diverse and inclusive atmosphere.

The goal of the project “Inclusive kindergartens for the quality education of Roma” is to make 12 local kindergartens inclusive and attractive to middle-class parents who now send their children to kindergartens outside the district, reflecting on the diversity that characterizes the district. Keeping its own program and building on its strengths, each kindergarten will develop its own institutional inclusion program and attractive high-quality programs and services to invite middle-class families to the local kindergartens.

“You think you are doing perfect, but when a second eye sees your kindergarten, you realize you can always develop,” says Melinda, the kindergarten principal of the 8th district.

As part of the project, PHA will develop a complex methodology and an associated set of tools, which will be tested in the project. These tools will be available to all municipalities and other kindergartens who similarly want to make their kindergartens inclusive.

The tasks of the Partners Hungary Foundation and REYN in this project are to:

  • Develop institutional strategic planning in the kindergartens and its implementation with the involvement of all stakeholders.
  • Help the kindergartens to renew their methodological tools and offer new services in accordance with the mapping the needs of the kindergartens and parents.
  • Communicate the new services to the residents of the district, families, strengthening the district identity.
  • Modify the district boundaries for the optimal use of kindergartens and in order to ensure a proportional presence of Roma, children with special educational needs, and foreign children in each kindergarten.

Read more about REYN Hungary and follow their Facebook page.

REYN Academy: series of ten online workshops for REYN members in Hungary

More than 250 members participated in the REYN Academy in Hungary at the beginning of this year. The success is measured in the fact that the first REYN Academy hosted 15 participants, and the last one more than 45 participants. As one of the members wrote: “REYN Academy was the best thing that happened to me during the pandemic”.

Early childhood professionals often lack the possibility to participate in capacity-building workshops for various reasons: long distances they have to travel, lack of time and money. With the COVID-19 pandemic, this changed dramatically, as the online platforms became available from one day to the other. Therefore, the REYN National Network in Hungary decided to launch a mini-workshop series for the early childhood workforce to strengthen their capacity and advocate for their well-being.

One of the main goals of REYN Hungary is to build the capacity of early childhood professionals who work with Roma children and families in the country. Each year REYN Hungary launches an online survey and asks 700 members about their needs and topics they would like to learn about.

The list is endless, but there are certain patterns that always appear in these online surveys. In 2020, REYN Hungary had the opportunity to satisfy almost all of the needs that members signaled. Each of the topics – resilience, emotional intelligence development, early diagnosis, sexual education, kids coaching, conflict management, working with Roma families, early pregnancy in Roma families -was presented during 1,5 hours.

REYN National Network in Hungary plans to continue having REYN Academy and will offer a series of 10 REYN Academy every year.

Read more about REYN Hungary and follow their Facebook page.

The lessons a mentor learns Part 3

One objective of REYN is to increase diversity in the workforce. In a series of blogs, Flóra Bacsó of Partners Hungary Foundation, is sharing about her work to coach five Romani women to become kindergarten assistants. 

In her previous blog, Flóra began to share the story of her mentee Ilona who reached out to her after moving to a new flat and experiencing some difficult family situations. In this blog, Flóra details how she helped Ilona work through the situation, beginning with Flóra’s response to a panicked phone call from Ilona.

I felt that her trust in me is something to be used as a resource. We talked for a long time. I pointed out that she made a huge step forward by asking for help and that it’s not her fault that she felt overwhelmed and exhausted. I shared a personal story when I also needed external help and encouraged her to reach out to the psychologist working at the local social center. At the beginning of our conversation, she said that she was too ashamed to share her situation with anyone else. By the end, she agreed to inform her social worker and her superior at work. I helped her figure out how to tell them what was going on with her.

Making a Plan

The psychologist in the local social center offered her consultations free of charge and Ilona accepted. Her superior, upon learning about her situation, offered to put her on sick leave until she got better without any time limitations. Her social worker checked on her every day. I organised a support group meeting for all the experts involved with her: the social worker, the psychologist, the mentor in the other program and myself. My aim was to exchange information on who is providing what kind of support for Ilona, without breaching confidentiality, so that we all can work towards the same direction – providing effective support. For the second meeting, Ilona was invited as well so that she could voice her needs which helped us work not just for her but with her. Empowerment and partnership are key when working with deprived people: clients need to feel that they have control over their life and that they have the ability to overcome challenges. Luckily all the fellow professionals working with her agreed on this, so on our meetings we were really able to provide the support that Ilona needed. She did not feel ashamed anymore. Together, we devised an even more flexible plan.

After a few months of regularly attending sessions with her psychologist, she managed to tackle her panic attacks and go back to work. Together, she and her supervisor figured out working hours and a payment schedule that would work for her. She moved to another flat where she finally feels at home. She managed to get professional help regarding the conflict with her son.

Finding success by an alternative route

I am glad we managed to be flexible with our plans and so was Ilona.

“I am so grateful for this program and I really want to work with children on the long run. I am convinced that I can take my chance again when my smallest child gets a bit older. I am grateful for where I am now in my life. I am very thankful to you as my mentor who always had my back through the hard times, you always wanted to know how I was doing, you offered me acceptance and emotional support,” Ilona shared.

At the beginning of the programme, I thought that the programme would be successful if all the mentees found a job in a kindergarten. I would not have thought that success can have alternative faces. But, it was flexibility that helped me complete the important steps that we took together in this programme. It is a success that she feels home where she lives now. It is a success that she conquered her panic attacks. It is a success that she is able to reach out for regular professional support and receive it. It is success that she was able to agree on a workload that is more manageable.

I am grateful for the professional conversations that I had during supervision that helped me with flexibility. I can appreciate that I might not see the results that were originally set out by the programme because the positive experience of building a solid and trusting relationship with my mentee had an important impact on her life.

Being heard and seen and accepted can give hope and momentum to initiate changes in our lives, no matter where we start.

By Flóra Bacsó, Trainer and Mentor at Partners Hungary Foundation.

Burning out of early childhood professionals, can we stop it?

A worrying trend in Hungary as early childhood professions remain unfilled due to low salaries and high levels of stress. Call centers pay twice as much, a professional said.

By Zsuzsa Laszlo, REYN Hungary Project Manager at Partners Hungary Foundation.

Budapest – A roundtable on current trends in the professional development of early childhood educators turned into a heated debate on the status of the early childhood profession.

The event organized by REYN Hungary, gathered experts coming from the higher education sector, early childhood NGOs, researchers and practitioners.

The attendees added to the agenda points something that everyone in the room felt highly important: the early childhood education and care (ECEC) profession has become unhealthy and non remunerative.

ECEC workers leave their jobs to change profession, for example a preschool teacher went to work in a call center for a salary twice as high, she said.

Early childhood jobs remain vacant

There are approximately 5000 health visitors in Hungary that due to low salary and administrative burden looked for work in other fields. Regions with a high Roma population are facing the biggest shortage of professionals. In Nógrád county nearly one third of the jobs (27 percent) are vacant (

The same is valid for other positions such as pediatricians, preschool teacher and social worker. These are non-attractive professions for the newcomers, due to low prestige and salary. According to data from the National Health Insurance Fund (NEAK), over 60,000 children nationwide lack pediatric services.

Burn out

At the event, participants from the audience talked about their professional and personal situation: low paid salaries, no professional support, no supervision and extreme workload, fatigue them or lead them to burn out.


A researcher shared her research results on what would help to prevent burn out of ECEC professionals. The keyword is prevention: professional supervision, coaching, sabbatical years and study visits are all activities that professionals should be granted. The debate went on on how ECEC professionals could raise their voice in order to advocate for their needs. Participants agreed that REYN (Romani Early Years Network) should be a platform that could support them in this.

The REYN Hungary event held on November 27th, 2019.

A positive story

To close on a positive note one teacher shared an example of inter-agency work that made her proud. She asked the major of her city to read his favorite fairy tales to the children of her school. Following the success of the initiative, she asked the major to pass this task to a colleague of his at the municipality. The next month the notary of the municipality read his favorite fairy tales. Then he passed the task along to another colleague etc.

With this very charming practice the school and the municipality staff started to bond and work together in more projects.

Notwithstanding the success of this and other initiatives, systemic interventions are urgent to address endemic problems in the early childhood sector in Hungary.

Read more about REYN Hungary.