ADVOCACY

[please scroll down for the latest advances in the campaign]

The Context

In 2011 the School after School (SaS) program, one of the most effective instruments for fighting early school leaving, was included as a necessity in the National Law of Education. That same year, the methodology for implementing the program was released through a Minister’s Decree. Among the four funding sources proposed, the document clearly stated the national budget as a source for financing the program for children from disadvantaged groups.

Six school years have come to an end since the law was passed, but the Ministry of Education continues to disregard it and fails to fund the program. Once more time Human Catalyst draws attention to the way the national law is being broken and to the evasive answers of the Government when it comes to concrete actions taken in order to apply art. 53, 4th paragraph of the National Law of Education.

Through the activities it developed over the past two years, Human Catalyst Association for Education and Social Justice has been campaigning for the public funding to the SaS program. The NGO was happy to see the program be included in the Anti-Poverty Measures Package. The SaS program has become a key measure aimed at reducing the school drop-out rate and thus a priority in terms of access to structural funds (e.g. the Operational Program Human Capital – POCU and the program School for Everyone).

On September 10, 2016, during a workshop of the Anti-Poverty Coalition Committee, representatives of the Ministry of Education have announced their intention to finally include the SaS program in the national budget for 2017 for a number of 50 schools.

“So far the SaS program is carried out only through private financing by the parents. Starting with the second semester of 2017 we will provide the necessary funds from the Ministry’s budget to include the SaS program in the 50 schools that will also receive a daily warm meal starting this autumn. We have already discussed this with the Ministry of Finance.” (Monica Anisie, secretary of state for the Ministry of Education)

Until these intentions become reality, Human Catalyst continues its advocacy actions in support of the SaS program, while warning against the risk of deepening the discrepancies in the system, if the Government agrees to assign resources from structural funds to only a small number of students. European funded projects with limited duration do not guarantee the sustainability and long term efficiency of the results they aim at: reducing the early school drop out rate that now reaches almost 20%. These two arguments demonstrate that the only solution for a healthy and efficient investment remains the urgent, active and constant involvement of the state through prioritizing public funding of programs such as SaS.

Almost 400.000 primary and secondary school students in Romania are studying in underprivileged schools, with high drop-out risk. Out of approximately 5000 schools in Romania, the first 414 on the list have the highest socio-educational risk level. Apart from these, there are other vulnerable children in nurseries, kindergartens, high schools and professional schools. This is the real dimensions of the disaster in the 2016 pregraduate educational system in Romania.

The data we have calculated in the first day of this school year show that:

  • the first 100 schools on the underprivileged list make for a total of 23.246 students from both primary and secondary levels of study
  • the first 200 schools on the same list sum up to 44.312 vulnerable students
  • the first 500 have a total of 134.618 vulnerable students
  • the first 1000 schools on the list equal 282.701 disadvantaged students.

 

2017. Following Parliamentary elections in Romania at the end of 2016, we continue to take part in consultations, work groups with stakeholders in order to convince the new Government to finance the SaS program out of the state budget.

During the first part of 2017 we developed the campaign Things are not looking too rosy, as part of our nation-wide efforts for advocacy.

The campaign included:

  • a performance in front of the Palace of the Parliament on June 1, International Children’s Day
  • a campaign in the Chamber of Deputes
  • an open letter to decision-makers (addressed to Ministers and the Prime Minister)
  • A campaign to raise signatures online and offline on campaign postcards
  • Promoting an info-graphic on School after School
  • Launching the clips of the campaign with subtitles available in Romanian and English. The clips were filmed in Săcele, Brașov county (available here and here), in Găujani, Giurgiu county and Merișani, Argeș county.

 

In June 2017, a new Government is appointed, lead by Prime Minister Mihai Tudose. As reaction to the statements of the Minister of Education Liviu Pop, Human Catalyst launched the campaign called Grassroots Debate on Free Education.

As part of the campaign, Human Catalyst invited the Romanian Presidency, the Minister of Education and the Minister of Finance to the debate, as well as members of the local community of Pietrișu, Găujani, Giurgiu county. The open letter we addressed brought about the inclusion of the event as activity organized under the auspices of the Romanian Presidency program Educated Romania – The National Debate for Education and Research.

We invite actors in education to take part in the debate and contribute to the conversation. Please send an email to office@humancatalyst.ro or call us at +40744109396.

 


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