May 16th 2011
Mayors invited to apply for Fiecare Copil in Gradinita funds
– A strategic initiative by OvidiuRo and the Ministry of Education –
The impact of preschool education on national economy: Early education returns 4 to 6 times the original investment.
International research shows that the environment children live in for their first five years affects their ability to function successfully for the rest of their lives.
Even if they are officially registered, many poor children in Romania do not attend preschool often enough to reap any benefit from it. The result of this late school enrolment is poor school integration and early school abandonment – because these children never catch up academically or fit in socially with their peers.
Lack of preschool education increases the risk of early school abandomnent, the need for special education, the rate of unemployment and adult crime.
To counter these negative effects, OvidiuRo and the Ministry of Education are inviting, for the second year in a row, all mayors in Romania to apply for funds to help them get every poor 3-6 year old child in preschool and kindergarten.
“What started out as a nice idea has become, by joint efforts, a pilot program which is extending year after year. The efforts of the Ministry of Education, the local schools and OvidiuRo are getting our children even closer to school. The National Education Law is proposing, for the first time, generalizing preschool education as a solution to the problem of school abandonment. But national policies also need to be correlated with local ones. That is why I am glad to see the positive response local communities had to our call last year. We’re expecting an important number of applications this year as well” declared State Secretary of the Ministry of Education, Oana Badea.
Spectacular results after the first six months
The Fiecare Copil in Gradinita initiative was launched in July 2010 and is currently assisting 1,300 children and their families in 19 communities. Results were surprising. The percentage of perfect attendance was almost double compared to attendance in the previous year and grew constantly every month, rising to 84% in March. In all the communities, attendance over this period was the highest in the last three years – and many local coordinators noted that this is by far the highest attendance rate EVER in their communities.
“Visiting communities all over the country confirmed that there is an extremely large number of children not attending kindergarten” said Maria Gheorghiu, co-founder and executive director of OvidiuRo. „The good news is that numerous mayors, school principals and citizens are willing to change this and are able to do it, provided they are offered the necessary funding and expertise”.
OvidiuRo allocated approximately €150 for each child 3-6 whose family qualified for social benefits or met other poverty criteria. These funds covered educational resources as well as monthly food coupons to the families whose children had perfect attendance. OvidiuRo also provides teacher training in modern methods and strategies for working with disadvantaged children.
In order to identify all eligible children, the project is based on door-to-door recruitment. Daily attendance is carefully recorded by teachers and monitored by local coordinators. A member of the OvidiuRo team visits each school at least once a month and spot checks attendance records. The local coordinator distributes monthly food coupons to parents of children with perfect attendance at the end of each month.
“We succeeded in changing the mentality of some parents who said in the beginning my child is just fine at home and are now smiling, happy that their children know the names of colours.”(Erika Rendes, local coordinator in Band, Mures).
On May 9th 2011, OvidiuRo and the Ministry of Education renewed the invitation to all of the mayors, in order to add five new communities to the Fiecare Copil in Gradinita program. The qualifications for applying are to have (1) at least 50 children between age 3 and 6 who were not regularly attending gradinita (2) a qualified school mediator (3) a social worker willing to be an active part of the project (4) an able, motivated local team willing to implement the methodology.
OvidiuRo supports the innovative thinking of mayors and school and kindergarten principals who are concerned about their communities’ future and correlate their local early education development strategy with the national one, to make early education available to all.
Through ”Scoala te face mare” public awareness campaign, we bring universal access to preschool education to the Romanian public agenda as a national priority.
Media Contact: Oana Pârvu: 0728 77 88 17, email@example.com