Only about 15% of Bulgarian Roma youth enrolled in high school graduate, compared to 87% of the general population, and less than 1% continue to pursue university education, compared to 30% of the general population. This gap results in a low number of highly-educated role models for Roma youth. This is linked to a variety of factors, including a lower motivation due to discrimination, limited access to quality education and teachers’ support, and financial barriers. Roma communities are also facing health challenges. 12% of the Roma population in the country has a disability or suffers from a severe chronic disease and the proportion of people reaching an age above 60 in the Roma community is four times lower than among the Bulgarian population.
By providing scholarship support to young Roma enrolled in medical degrees at university, the program seeks to promote educational inclusion and achievement of Roma youth and to contribute towards solving persistent health issues surrounding the Roma communities. Simultaneously, it aims to support inspiring role models who can help overturn existing prejudice against Roma and contribute toward creating economic self-sufficiency. It is envisaged that at least 270 scholarships will be provided over a period of 6 academic years.