For the second year in a row, Asociatia OvidiRo is encouraging rural communities to enroll all their 3-to-5-year-old children in grădiniță. Projects in 20 kindergartens in disadvantaged communities will ensure that no child is turned away from the local grădiniță due to lack of space. Selected schools will receive €1,200 in cash – to be used as the local team sees fit and €400 in educational materials. Teachers from these kindergartens will also be able to participate, at no charge, in OvidiuRo’s regional training programs and obtain educational tools throughout the school year. This project has been made possible by NN Romania through 2017 and 2018 grants of €40,000.
The application process is simple: a community must have at least 15 disadvantaged children who are not already registered for kindergarten and the school director needs approval from the county school inspectorate to form a new group. Dead-line for applications: end of March, 2018.
It is common practice, when a kindergarten reaches its official capacity, to simply close registration. There is no ‘waiting list’, no official procedure for informing the county authorities that there are more children ready for grădiniță than the kindergarten is authorized to serve. So, unless parents stridently complain, as they do in prosperous areas, only a fraction of a community’s children have access to kindergarten. And this can go on – year after year” says Maria Gheorghiu, OvidiuRo cofounder.
Gheorghiu explained that creating an additional grădiniță group can be a time-consuming bureaucratic process for an already overworked school director, but it usually does not involve actually building another classroom. There are a variety of solutions – like revamping a storage area into a classroom, getting a donor to cover the cost of an additional teacher for half a year, adding afternoon classes, etc. But all the solutions require the principal and mayor to be proactive and to forge through a maze of higher approvals.
Last year, Hai la grădiniță! grants increased enrollment in 12 communities by over 200 children, in 10 counties: Alba, Botoșani, Covasna, Dâmbovița, Dolj, Ialomița, Iași, Vaslui, Vâlcea and Vrancea.
Early education is crucial in laying a solid foundation for a better future. Children thrive and have a harmonious development when learning, which is why Asociatia OvidiuRo’s Hai la grădiniță! initiative is so important to communities in Romania, helping disadvantaged children to have access to education and, as a result, to an additional chance to a successful future. Social inclusion is a priority for us, and initiatives such as Hai la grădiniță! allow us to make a difference by significantly contributing to the development of local communities and helping children make the first step towards reaching their true potential”, said Carmen Soare, Chief Marketing Officer at NN.
The money was utilized in a variety of ways. Some school directors used the funds to furnish a new classroom with durable, child-friendly furniture; some repaired roofs and chimneys or installed heating. Others used the funds to provide winter shoes and clothes for the newly enrolled children. One community built its first and only playground.
More details about Hai la Grădiniță! in 2017 – 2018 school year and the pilot’s results here.
Law 248/2015, the “Fiecare Copil in Grădiniță Law” encourages families living below the poverty line to send their children to grădiniță by offering monthly €11 food coupons if they bring their 3-to-5-year-old child to preschool every day. Attendance in early education programs has been linked again and again with better school outcomes; this law is an integral part of Romania’s effort to reduce its excessively high dropout rate and has already resulted in increased kindergarten enrolment and attendance of children at high-risk for dropping out before they reach high school.
About Asociația OvidiuRo
The effectiveness of OvidiuRo’s Fiecare Copil în Grădiniţă pilot project led the Romanian Parliament to finance its parent incentive component throughout Romania in February 2016.
As the Agency for Early Education, OvidiuRo mobilizes public and private resources to improve the quality of early education available to Romania’s poorest children. OvidiuRo focuses on providing the highest quality education materials, training teachers to optimize these new resources, and helping disadvantaged communities open new kindergarten groups so that no child is turned away due to lack of space.
OvidiuRo’s “Hubs for Literacy & Quality Early Education” encourage rural kindergartens to focus on exposing 3-to-5-year-old children to new vocabulary & the world of books. In 2017 OvidiuRo trained 700 preschool teachers in child-centered and literacy development methods.
OvidiuRo’s goals for 2018 are to (1) train an additional 1000 kindergarten teachers, (2) provide them with ready-made Reading Corners and (3) give 15,000 picture books for the children to take home to share with their parents and siblings.
About NN România
NN (www.nn.ro) is the first international life insurance company to enter the Romanian market, in January 1997. Today, NN has a strong presence in Romania – 20 years of life insurance, 10 years of private pensions and over 1 year of health insurance – and a clear vision for the future. As such, NN puts people first and strives to support them in their efforts to insure a better financial future for them and their loved ones, while significantly contributing to the sustainable development of the economy and society as a whole. Since 2011, NN engages in programs developed by local NGOs in order to offer support to disadvantaged communities.