Founders’ Message


Dear friends and fellow believers in the power of education to transform lives – and societies,
The 2019 PISA (OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment) test results, as you well may have heard, showed Romania’s scores continuing to decline – with 44% of 15-year-olds who took the test not reaching the ‘functional literacy’ level. This alarming result reaffirms the need for quality early education, through well-trained teachers and pedagogically-sound picture books – as the foundation for giving disadvantaged children a chance to succeed in school and become active contributing members of Romanian society.

The fact is, if disadvantaged children are not exposed to a variety of early learning experiences, a huge knowledge gap develops – even before clasa pregatitoare. Lagging behind, these children drop out of school as soon as they can.

It turns out that literacy is actually the most significant predictor of success in school and life. Early linguistic competencies are necessary prerequisites for later reading and writing abilities and thus for a successful school career. At age 2 there is already a huge vocabulary gap between children in different segments of society. Poor children have zero books at home and in most kindergarten classes are only coloring books.

A recent study from the Journal of Global Health found that the likelihood of a child being on track in literacy and numeracy almost doubled if at least one book was available at home compared to when there was none. The researchers analyzed data, covering 100,000 children 3-5 years of age, from 35 countries in seven regions and (after adjusting for confounding variables like maternal education and family income) established the association between the availability of children’s books to preschool-age children and their readiness for school at age 6.

The biggest problem in rural kindergartens is the lack of truly educational activities – due to a lack of both teacher know-how and learning tools. Consequently, the OvidiuRo team spends about 80% of its time in the field – helping teachers increase their teaching skills & tools, and providing age-appropriate reading material (which, astonishingly, was almost entirely absent from most rural and poor urban kindergartens). Your support helps us reach ‘critical mass’ with this essential foundation for learning.

Poor children’s chances to overcome the literacy gap lie in the hands of policies and projects that actively recruit and support the education and social development of the most marginalized children.

Maria Gheorghiu & Leslie Hawke
Co-founders, Asociația OvidiuRo