For a collection of Roma children’s songs – professional conference in the Ombudsman’s Office
What role can a still non-existent collection of Roma-themed children’s stories, rhymes, and songs play in the development of pre-school children, in the preservation and development of their identity and minority language? The conference co-organized by the Office of the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights and the Ethnix Association for Arts and Education on 28 September 2018 took up precisely this question.
This professional event, organized with the cooperation of the Human Capacities Grant Management Office, was based on the fact that still there is no single collection of Roma children’s songs that would be of practical use for teachers and children. The participants of the conference, including researchers, educational professionals, and practicing educators, examined what role could be played by such a collection, containing Roma-themed children’s stories, rhymes, and songs, in the development of pre-school children, in the preservation and development of their identity and minority language. At the same time, the participants were provided a general overview of the pre-school education of children speaking both Romani and Boyash and the possible scope, ways and means of using new tools therein.
A particularly important topic was whether children of any ethnic and linguistic background are exposed, in any form, to Roma/Gipsy folk poetry in pre-school and if pre-school teachers obtain any knowledge about the Roma community in Hungary in the course of their professional education. The above factors may, indeed, have a serious impact on the psycho-social development of non-Roma children and on sensitizing them towards other cultures and ethnic groups.
During the conference, the internationally renowned animation studio, Kecskemétfilm LLC, the maker of the animation series “Hungarian Folk Tales”, presented their ten-episode animation series called “Gipsy children’s stories”. Director Mária Horváth pointed out that the objective of these short films is the authentic presentation, interwoven with contemporary Roma art, of the cultural and ethnographic traditions of the Roma living in Hungary. Several Roma artists had joined the creative process: the drawings in the films had been based on the works of graphic artist and painter Teréz Orsós, while the soundtracks of individual episodes had been composed by the members of Parno Graszt. Those interested may get a taste of the series “Gipsy children’s stories” at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z6IZld4DOMU.
The event was concluded by a chamber concert by the group EtnoRom, during which they also performed Roma children’s songs collected or composed by themselves.