The School after School (SaS) Program should be designed by each school following consultations with students and their legal representatives, teachers, the local community and partner organizations so as to first and foremost address the educational needs of students belonging to disadvantaged groups.
But how many vulnerable children and schools with Roma children did the SaS program reach since 2011?
In order to answer this question, we carried out a research on the national level in 2014. „Making The Most Of SaS Program For Roma Children” study gathered data from 102 schools in Romania that have Roma students. Apart from the number of Roma pupils, four other dimensions were evaluated: the level of education in the child’s family, the number of pupils with economic difficulties, pupils in dysfunctional families or with special needs. With these dymentions in mind, we looked at whether or not the schools have any educational support such as School after School programs for the pupils in the aforementioned groups. The results showed that in only 15% of the researched schools there is a form of SaS program. Both school principles and school inspectors mentioned as main cause the lack of financing, followed by the low motivation of teachers to get involved in accessing and implementing the program.
The data were confirmed by another report belonging to World Vision Romania: approx. 15% of children have benefited from a SaS program; there are discrepancies between the availability of the program in rural and urban areas, depending on each community’s degree of poverty; the main reason why children do not benefit from the SaS program is that 81.1% of the current SaS programs offer paid services, which makes it inaccessible for many families and generates a source of inequality between children.
THE SOCIO-EDUCATIONAL RISK INDEX (IRSE)
In a context where the Romanian Government is committed to reduce the number of people in relative poverty with 580.000 until 2020, as part of Europe 2020 Strategy, the Integrated Package for Combating Poverty from the beginning of 2016 was a tool for reducing the numbers. Following this, PM Dacian Cioloș founded the Anti-poverty Coalition, that is supposed to monitor the implementation of the Integrated Package for Combating Poverty, to support local public authorities to elaborate and apply anti-poverty programs and to monitor activities that offer technical assistance.
Human Catalyst coordinates the Education group, offers expertise and contributes to measures and tools to implement them. One of our major contributions was a methodology for identifying the most disadvantaged communities in Romania from social and educational perspectives, in order to support the Government to reduce poverty levels and lower school drop out rates.
Among other contributions, we proposed a methodology for identifying and ranking the most disadvantaged communities in the country, from educational and social stand points, with the goal to support the Romanian Government reach its targets in reducing poverty and early school dropout.
Our recommendations include:
- Using the IRSE index in order to aim investments at disadvantaged areas that register the most alarming data regarding poverty levels, marginalization, exclusion and early school leaving. The value of the Index needs to be measured yearly and compared to the base-line of 2016.
- Any policy to combat poverty needs to take in account a joint effect of risks: a poor community with a low level of education is likely to have a high rate of school drop-out, low levels of professional qualification, which leads to low employability levels. Thus, politics and interventions should be designed in an integrated, multi-annual and multi-sectorial manner.
- The costs of the interventions need to be projected depending on types of risk in each community and proportional to the risk level: communities with the highest IRSE risk value should, thus, have priority in benefiting from financing through national programs.