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Support to the European Roma Special College of Music in Hungary
Aiming to foster social inclusion of the Roma, the European Roma Special College of Music was established and equipped in Hungary with the help of a €2 677 866 grant from the EEA and Norway Grants 2004-2009.

Achievements in Hungary 2004-2009

In Hungary, the EEA and Norway Grants have contributed to the renovation of uniquely valuable historical buildings, such as Siklós Castle, the Basilica in Pécs, and Matthias Church in Budapest. Conservation of European cultural heritage received a quarter of the funding, and restoration projects were carried out with the emphasis on ensuring the accessibility and functionality of renovated objects. For example, the Carmelite monastery in Sopronbánfalva has been renovated and made into an educational retreat and meditation centre, contributing to the economic and cultural activity in the area.

Within the environmental sector, the establishment of a zero-emissions conference centre, at the renowned Regional Environmental Center for Central and Eastern Europe outside Budapest, was among the achievements. This project involved the installation of solar panels, while a number of other projects also focused on renewable energy sources, including one involving the Norwegian Institute for Water Research (NIVA). Under human resources development, a €1.2 million scholarship fund has provided grants for more than 400 Hungarian students to study in Iceland, Liechtenstein or Norway.

A wide variety of partnership projects between educational institutions in Hungary and the donor states have also received support from the fund. Lifelong learning has been prioritised, too, thanks to several cooperation projects between Hungarian and Norwegian institutions. To address the lack of adult education in Hungary, especially in the disadvantaged regions, the Hungarian Association of Lifelong Learning (ALLL) teamed up with the Norwegian Agency for Lifelong Learning (VOX) to establish the Network of Open Learning Centres. The centres are located in areas struggling with high unemployment rates and social deprivation, and reach out to often-excluded groups. Each centre operates tailored programmes focusing on skills which are relevant to the local area. As a result, over 780 participants have been trained.

Training programmes for labour market integration were set up: one in cooperation with the Norwegian Association of Distance Education, targeting the Roma minority, and another in cooperation with the Norwegian Defence University College, targeting exsoldiers. In addition, a training programme for local governments and mayors was established based on experience from the Norwegian Association of Local and Regional Authorities (KS). Around 70 training programmes have been developed under EEA and Norway Grants projects, and more than 900 officials and civil servants have been trained.

Altogether, 27 out of 91 projects in Hungary were implemented in cooperation with Norwegian entities within academic research, health and childcare, human resources development and the environment.