Hai la grădiniță! Grants
Create Additional Places in Gradinita
The need: In 2016, as part of OvidiuRo’s effort to facilitate the implementation of the FCG Law, the OvidiuRo team met with local authorities in 99 of the most disadvantaged communities in 15 counties. By far the most common reason cited by the authorities for not registering all of their 3 – 5 year old children was “lack of space”.
It is common practice, when a kindergarten reaches its official capacity, to simply close registration. There is no ‘waiting list’, no procedure for informing the county authorities that there are more children ready for gradinita than the gradinita 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. Creating another gradinita group to accommodate all the children is time-consuming, but it usually does not involve actually building another classroom!
Both the increasing number of children in poor rural communities and their parents’ growing awareness of the importance of kindergarten have strained local capacity in many areas of Romania. OvidiuRo looks forward to helping more communities address this problem – so every child in Romania can truly have access to kindergarten and to quality early education.
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, making afternoon classes, etc. But all the solutions require the principal and mayor to be proactive and willing to forge through a bureaucratic maze of required approvals.
OvidiuRo’s response: community grants that enable local teams to enroll more poor children in kindergarten.
In 2017, an innovative €40,000 grant from NN Romania enabled OvR to help school principals in 12 poor communities create additional kindergarten groups. OvidiuRo was able to offer school directors advice and support in the form of a €2500 allotment. The money could be used in a variety of ways, without tedious red tape. 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.
Communities receiving grants in 2017 – Sasciori (Alba), Hiliseu-Horia (Botosani), Borosneu-Mare (Covasna),Costestii din Vale (Dambovita), Iedera (Dambovita), Valea Stanciului (Dolj), Amarastii de Jos (Dolj), Ion Roata (Ialomita), Mironeasa (Iasi), Garceni (Vaslui), Colonia Nuci (Valcea), Chiojdeni (Vrancea).
In 2018, NN funded grants to help new kindergartens find solutions so that no child is turned away from the local gradinita due to lack of space. Selected schools received €1,200 in cash – to be used as the local team sees fit and €400 in educational materials. Teachers from these kindergartens were also able to participate, at no charge, in OvidiuRo’s regional training programs.
Out of twelve local teams that ultimately applied for grants, six succeeded in getting approval from their County School Inspectorates for the new kindergarten group (and teacher) by October, 2018: Dragu (Salaj County), Patrauti (Suceava County), Crucea (Iasi County), Petelea (Mures County), Viisoara (Botosani County), and Amarastii de Jos (Dolj County). In total, 120 preschool children living in six poor rural communities got into kindergarten for the first time in the fall, due to Hai la gradinita! grants.
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.
How to apply: The school principle had to fill in an on-line application form provided by OvidiuRo, and also attach the list with the name of the children enrolled for the new kindergarten group. Also, the school principle had to provide OvidiuRo the official letter that confirmed the School Inspectorate approved a new teacher position (so, a new kindergarten group).