How can Romania decrease the dropout rate? Every child must go to school.

By on November 30, 2015

18,5% of Romanian students leave school early. How can Romania decrease the dropout rate? What if the Ministry of Education will provide books, other types of auxiliary materials and lunch? 

“The rarely debated issue of school dropout in the Romanian education system requires immediate action. It is a phenomenon so widespread and so serious that it should be a priority for all those involved in education: politicians, decision makers, parents, teachers and students.”, said Raluca Zaharia, Education Officer, UNICEF Romania.

UNICEF made an intense research regarding the dropout factors and they discovered that most of the reasons are related to:

  • Financial problems;
  • Parents’ educational example;
  • Siblings’ educational example;
  • Dysfunctional families;
  • Edge-of-law activities (prostitution, membership of street gangs, beggars’ network);
  • Employment (making money through unskilled work: bar work, prostitution);
  • Lack of trust in the education system is a stereotype untested in the real life;
  • Migration- children who leave the system and come back home when they are older.

Also, at the community level, the main factors that cause the dropout are:

  • The early marriage custom (rural communities);
  • Having a child;
  • Lack of the individual security in the area (teachers are afraid to interact with parents because of the high crime rate);
  • The custom of discontinuing education after the eighth grade.

After this analysis, UNICEF proposed some main areas for action:

  • To increase the flexibility of “second chance” programmes – from the point of view of age groups. These programmes should have classes for children from the same age group (12-16 years old), who otherwise find it difficult to integrate in groups of second chance students 20 or older.
  • To increase the flexibility of “second chance” programmes – from the curriculum point of view. When students repeat a year for several times because they did not pass only one or two subject matters (usually the same ones), the passing grades for the other matters should be taken into account. Also, the professional abilities acquired by dropouts should be officially recognized.
  • To make school more appealing – promoting extracurricular activities taking place in the school, such as: periodic school painting/cleaning/decorating and sportive or artistic competitions.
  • To make school more appealing – by using school resources to encourage pupils to develop leisure activities outside.
  • To use the experiences of pupils who have already dropped out to prevent the spreading of early abandonment. It could be useful if dropouts could meet students at risk of abandonment to tell them about their life after they left school.
  • To get teachers proactively involved in fighting early school dropout. The teachers could be supported to develop means to increase the integration of students and the communication with them and with their parents, to engage the students in extra-curricular activities and to counsel them.
  • To develop a national sex education programme for pupils, focused on communities with a high risk of teenage pregnancy and where early marriage is still common.
  • To encourage the local authorities and specialized NGOs to involve eighth graders and high-school students from communities with a high risk of school dropout as volunteers in various support programmes (such as for the elderly or for families in need).
  • To keep a record of the situation of pupils from families involved in migration.
  • To put in place a system to monitor the development of school year groups.
  • To motivate teachers through awards and prizes.

After the description of the 19 schools under analysis, we can all agree that this report is an important source of information on the Romanian education system and a useful tool in identifying and implementing viable solutions to prevent early school dropout.

I told you before that I was part of Teach for Romania team and I had the chance to see all of these with my own eyes. Being there, did that! I know it’s true and I am willing to help. Now, what does each one of us in order to prevent the dropout rate? How can Romania decrease the dropout?

This article is part of the Does Education Learn? Campaign.


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