UNICEF’s call to action for the new school year beginning: „Let’s go to school!”
Bucharest, September, 16th 2012. Tomorrow Mihai will start the sixth grade although a few months ago this seemed hard to believe. He used to skip school a lot because he had to go with his father to work to help his family get by. After several house calls, the head teacher had convinced Mihai’s father that the school is the boy’s only chance for a better life. At first, Mihai was upset because he couldn’t keep up with colleagues and was ashamed. Fortunately, he overcame that difficult moment with the help of his teachers.
Mihai is just one of the thousand children who improved their school attendance and performance due to the fact that his school is included in the School Attendance Initiative ran by the UNICEF in partnership with the Ministry of Education, Research, Youth and Sport. Starting from the worrisome statistics regarding the children who drop out of school, UNICEF started in 2010 a campaign to prevent and reduce the rate of absenteeism and drop out phenomena. 38 schools in 16 counties have been included in the campaign during the 2010 – 2011 school year. The very good results recorded after the first year have encouraged UNICEF to include another 103 school in 37 counties in the campaign. The School Attendance Initiative has covered a total of 141 schools and over 50,000 students from almost all parts of the country during the 2011 – 2012 school year.
The results show, after two years of the campaign, that:
Within the School Attendance Initiative actions are taken at the school, family and community level. The interventions at the school level aim at transforming the schools in a friendly environment for children, training the school mediators, the principals and the teachers so they adapt their methods to the needs of each student. At the family level the aim is to strengthen the bonds of the parents with the school, to get them involved in their children’s school life and to provide support to the parents by counseling and individual discussions. The interventions at the community level aim to influence and mobilize the community members to get involved and support the families whose children are at risk of school drop out.
“Every child has the right to an education and the chance to a better life. Lack of education entails social exclusion and a perpetuation of the vicious circle of poverty. Through the School Attendance Initiative we approach, in an integrated manner, absenteeism and drop out phenomena, mobilizing schools, families, the community and the decision makers to identify and proactively apply measures that would prevent the appearance and spreading of these phenomena that could have a long term effect on the entire society”, said Sandie Blanchet, UNICEF Representative in Romania.
Another 100 communities will be included in the campaign in the 2012 – 2013 school year. For the third year of the School Attendance Initiative UNICEF’s implementing partners are: The Ministry of Education, Research, Youth and Sport (MECTS), the Institute of Education Sciences (ISE), the Center for Resources and Information for the Social Professions (CRIPS), Holt Romania and the Community Development Agency „Together”. The campaign is also supported by partners from the private sector: GDF SUEZ Energy Romania – main partner and the clients of BRD – Groupe Société Générale through the monthly donations program.
As part of this endeavor, between the 23rd – 25th September 2012, UNICEF will organize a National Conference on the School Attendance Initiative presenting the objectives, components, actions and mechanisms of the campaign to those involved and to the decision makers. Representatives of the Government of Romania, the Ministry of Education, Research, Youth and Sport and of the Ministry of Labor, the Romanian Parliament, representatives of Embassies, of the General Directorates for Social Assistance and Child Protection, of the County Resources Centers, the principals of the schools included in the campaign, representatives of the School Inspectorates, of the UNICEF implementing partners and partner companies, as well as representatives of the Non-Governmental Organizations will take part in this event.
About UNICEF Romania
In Romania UNICEF supports children’s rights through health and nutrition programs, quality education as well as the protection of children against violence, neglect, HIV/AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments
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