In adolescence, more children drop out of school than during the primary school years. While almost all villages have a primary school, there are fewer high schools and they tend to be in larger towns, to which many families lack the resources to send their children. At the same time, as children enter adolescence they can be of more use helping with household and younger siblings, or may seek paid employment or get married – other factors which can result in children abandoning their education.
Children of this age group also share many of the challenges of their younger counterparts. Their parents may work abroad – and without adult care adolescent children are easily influenced and vulnerable to exploitation. A shortage of qualified teachers and poorly equipped schools – particularly in rural areas – can impede adolescents’ education during the crucial high school years.
And schools can also pose more serious problems. A World Health Organization survey which surveyed school violence in 37 countries during the 2009-10 academic year, ranked Romania the second worst, with a fifth of pupils in Bucharest claiming to have been attacked in school.
The country’s teen pregnancy rate is also worrying, one of the highest figures in Europe. In absolute figures it is second only tothe UK, with around 27,000 births by mothers aged 12 to 19 in 2009 and 2010. This reflects not only the difficulty young people have accessing family planning services but also low educational aspiration. Teenage parents, often unequipped for the challenges of child-raising, will then pass many of their own problems onto the next generation.