100 Communities respond to the challenge to get “Every Child in Pre-School”

Bucharest ,  27 September 2010 – In August, Asociatia OvidiuRo and the Ministry of Education invited Romanian communities to apply for a special grant to help them get  every impoverished child in their community between the ages 4-6 in preschool this fall.  102 communities applied.

In consultation with Oana Badea, the Secretary of State in the Ministry of Education, OvidiuRo arrived at a shortlist of 43 communities.  OvidiuRo staff covered over 7,000 kilometers visiting all 43 communities (petrol provided by Rompetrol) and meeting with their local action groups.   This week 14 communities were informed that they had been selected to participate*.

OvidiuRo has allocated approximately €150 for every child between 4-6 whose family lives below the poverty line. In addition to providing food coupons to the families whose children have perfect attendance, these funds cover teacher training and educational resources.  OvidiuRo will oversee the distribution of funds and KPMG will audit the records.  Letters signed by Maria Gheorghiu, director and co-founder of OvidiuRo, and Oana Badea were sent in July to all town halls in Romania, inviting them to apply to participate in “Fiecare copil in gradinita” (every child in kindergarten).

With the investment of 150,000 American dollars, contributed by The Alex Fund, a New York based NGO  (Ethan Hawke is a member of the board), OvidiuRo is highlighting the importance of early education with the goal of putting it on the public agenda as a major national priority.  The return on investment in preschool education is 4 to 10 times  the expenditure according to international studies.  Preschool reduces the probability of school abandonment, the need for special education classes,  adult unemployment, and crime.

Very poor people postpone enrolling their children in school and skip pre-school entirely, not being able to support the “hidden costs” of education. The result is widespread early school abandonment – because these children never catch up academically to their peers. Many Romanian mayors and school directors know that early education is important for children’s future success in life, but they simply don’t have the budgets or know-how to address the problem that few poor parents send their children to kindergarten.

“Visiting communities around the country verified that there is an appallingly large number of poor children who have no access to kindergarten.  But the good news is that a lot of local mayors, school directors and citizens want to turn around this state of affairs.  As a consequence, we increased the number of selected communities from 5 to 14. We are incredibly grateful for the Alex Fund’s willingness to commit additional dollars so we can do this.  We expect between 800 and 1000 children will be affected, provided that the local action groups translate their initial enthusiasm into action, ”  Maria Gheorghiu, executive director of OvidiuRo, stated.

“I believe in the challenge OvidiuRo launched to local communities. I consider that, beyond the efforts of civil society or the central institutions, the problem can only be solved with the help of the local communities. The large number of applications shows that they are looking for solutions to the problems they face” declared Oana Badea, the Secretary of State in the Ministry of Education.

OvidiuRo supports forward thinking mayors and school directors who deeply care about the future of their communities, not just about the ‘smart kids’. To make this happen companies and individuals are encouraged to participate in the Halloween Charity Ball on October 30, OvidiuRo’s main source of program funding.  www.halloween.ovid.ro

*Selected communities: Braşov county: Săcele and Tărlungeni, Buzău county: Râmnicu Sărat, Covasna county: Araci, Hăghig, and Întorsura Buzăului, Dâmboviţa county: Gura Şuţii, Harghita county: Bălan, Maramureş county: Coroieni, Mureş county: Band, Sălaj county: Jibou, Sibiu county: Alţâna, Brateiu, Roşia.

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Asociatia OvidiuRo helps schools and communities successfully integrate children from impoverished families into the educational system.  Fiecare Copil in Scoala (“Every child in school”) is a national initiative to get every child in Romania into the education system at an early age. “Scoala te face mare” is a public awareness campaign initiated in 2009.

Contact:  Nicoleta Popa – 0728 77 88 18, nicoleta.popa@ovid.ro

Str. Dr. Râureanu, nr. 4, etaj 3, Bucureşti, 050048   tel/fax: 021-315.8806   www.ovid.ro

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