Press Release

November 2011

Cargill brings “Every child in preschool” project in Dolj County

Podari, Romania – November 29, 2011 – Cargill shows its support towards the Podari community from Dolj County by sponsoring the OvidiuRo “Every child in preschool” project here. Cargill started a long term partnership with OvidiuRo Association that aims to give a fair access chance to education for children in Podari.

OvidiuRo trains and assists schools and communities to successfully integrate impoverished children into the education system at an early age. “Every Child in Preschool” is a national initiative to get every poor child in Romania in early education programs, preferably at the age of three, so they have a chance of succeeding in school and graduating also. Main beneficiaries of the project are children between ages 3 and 6 whose family lived below the poverty line.

Upon Cargill’s initiative, this program has now reached Dolj County also, leading so far to a number of 63 enrolled children in this project, in three communities: Podari, Braniste and Livezi.

Project’s methodology encompasses working closely with local authorities, neighbourhood kindergarten, ensure teacher training, parent involvement and incentives (similar to conditional cash transfers) tied to children’s perfect attendance in preschool. Therefore, the active parties of the project are: OvidiuRo that runs the management of the project; the local authorities, which ensure clothes and shoes for every poor child in the program; and main sponsor Cargill who supports food coupons costs and also teacher training and educational resources.

Cargill’s contribution to this project so far is of USD 25,000. In addition to providing food coupons to the families whose children had perfect attendance, these funds covered teacher training and educational resources.

Ramona Ene, Chairwoman of the Cargill Social Responsibility Committee, explained that Cargill strives to be a good citizen in every location in which it is privileged to operate. “Very poor people often postpone enrolling their children in school and skip preschool entirely, not realizing the importance of early education and being unable to support the many “hidden costs” of education. We are committed to supporting and enriching local communities where we are based, and identifying this need in Dolj County, made us embrace this initiative and become involved in OvidiuRo project for the 2011-2012 scholar year”, said Mrs. Ene.

Speaking on behalf of OvidiuRo, Leslie Hawke, President of the Association, commented “During the past decade, we developed a strategy that integrates progressive education, local community action, a warm learning environment and parent participation.  A key element of our success has been the material support we offer to families who otherwise would postpone sending their children to school due to custom, poverty and inertia. Our ultimate goal is to make early education with incentives from the state, standard public policy, so that every poor child in Romania gets enrolled into the education system between age 3 and 6, in order to have a chance of becoming active members of society”.

Constantin Gheorghita, Mayor of Podari village, stated that the late enrolment of children in school and them skipping classes often may best be solved by focusing on preschoolers. “Local county has allocated 300 RON per child for clothing and shoes, so that we avoid situations like coming to school barefoot or not coming at all. We choose to invest in our children as, on a long term, our goal is to have educated and responsible citizens”, announced the Mayor.

After only two months since “Every child in preschool” started in Dolj County, the results are amazing. If in 2010, 188 of the children in the community were enrolled in kindergarten and only 97 of these were present in fact, in October 2011, all 208 children from Podari, with ages between 3 and 6 are enrolled, 165 are always presents and 63 of them belong to families who live below the poverty line.

When a child’s educational and life prospects improve, everyone benefits. High quality early childhood programs boost not only educational achievement, but also promote social inclusion and good citizenship.