Statement of the Hungarian Scout Association

Beküldte kommunikacio - 2018. július 17., 11:03

A Magyar Cserkészszövetség angol nyelvű nyilatkozata a sajtóban megjelent hírek kapcsán

Reflecting on the news of 11-12 July 2018 stating “GYPSY CHILDREN CANNOT BECOME SCOUTS IN HUNGARY”, the Hungarian Scout Association issues the following statement.

The cooperation between the Hungarian Scout Association and the Dr Ámbédkar School in Sajókaza has started years ago. The process of establishing a new scout troop started soon, with coordination between the Association and Tibor DERDÁK, headmaster of the School. He has been introduced to the principles stated in our Constitution, as the acceptance of these are indispensable while joining the Scout Movement. As the Hungarian Scout Association believes in integrated education, we shared our concerns regarding a scout troop consisting of Romani children only. Moreover, we were not convinced that they are ready to take on the spiritual education of the children at an expected level – which was also admitted by Tibor DERDÁK (The Dr Ámbédkar School follows Buddhist doctrines, but a significant proportion of the students associate themselves as Roman Catholics). Furthermore, none of the employees of the School have ever been Scouts themselves, their knowledge of the Scout Method was limited to a teacher’s training organized by the Hungarian Scout Association, which only aims to familiarize educational workers with the Movement, but is not part of the leader training programme of the Association.

During the meetings it became clear that they are only interested in using the pedagogical methods of Scouting, and they are not prepared nor willing to commit themselves fully to our Movement. Thus, we offered the students of the Dr Ámbédkar School to join existing scout troops in neighbouring communities – but the idea was not welcomed.

Last summer, four Scouts of the Éclaireuses et Éclaireurs de Franceheld a camp in Sajókaza, without notifying neither EEdF, nor HSA. It only came to our attention as one of the volunteers of the School has published an article on the school’s website on 16 October 2017, which included the following statement: “The Hungarian Scout Movement – similar to most other countries – is under the influence of right-wing politics and right-wing related ecclesial movements. The Hungarian nationalistic movements – like most of the other Eastern European nationalistic movements – are full of Romaphobia. No further explanation needed to understand why the attempts of a joint Scout camp of the Hungarian Scouts and the Dr Ámbédkar School have failed – although we have to admit that there are reasonable individuals among the Scouts as well. Unfortunately, their voices have been silenced. Luckily, the organizers did not give up, and the camp became a reality with the help of some members of a very progressive non-Hungarian Scout movement.”

Following the publication of the article, the National Board of the Hungarian Scout Association has sent a letter to Tibor DERDÁK, asking why are they trying to publicly ruin the credibility of an organization they are wishing to join. As a result of all previous incidents, the Association decided not to support the establishment of a Scout troop maintained by the Dr Ámbédkar School. In spite of everything, we offered to share our knowledge and experience for them to use freely, but also made it clear that although their work is valuable, it cannot be called Scouting (“cserkész”, meaning “scout” is a patented word in Hungary owned by the Hungarian Scout Association).

On 11 July 2018, the story was picked up by 168Óra and was re-published by other media, including English-language sites (Daily News Hungary, Hungarian Spectrum, etc). Soon enough, more detailed articles started to show up, containing more subtle approach. After a press release, television and radio appearances of both sides, the story is now fading away from mainstream media. The cited article was removed from the School’s website a few days ago, but can be read here.

We emphasize that the Hungarian Scout Association is open to all children, we do have Romani members, and we are happy to welcome all students of the Dr Ámbédkar School in our existing Scout troops, but the mentality of the teachers of the School is too far from ours to be able to represent the principles of Scouting in a troop run by them.