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UNICEF: No child left behind by the education system!

Bucharest, 28 September, 2012. Between 23-25 September 2012, UNICEF organised the third National Conference at Sinaia as part of the School Attendance Initiative ’Let’s Go to School!’. The event was meant to present those involved and decision makers the objectives, components, actions and mechanisms of the campaign rolled out to prevent absenteeism and drop-out, as well as to decide together on intervention plans and the activity calendar.

At the event, the UNICEF Representative in Romania, Mrs. Sandie Blanchet, called upon the Romanian Government, the local authorities, the Parliament, the civil society and international community to join forces and start a strong partnership guaranteeing that no child is left behind by the education system. Every child in Romania is entitled to education, and this is the future of the country.

The Conference was attended by more than three hundred people: Mr. Valeriu Zgonea – President of the Chamber of Deputies, H.E. Philippe Gustin – the French Ambassador to Romania, Mrs. Cristina Pocora – President of the Committee on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men attached to the Chamber of Deputies, Senator Elena Mitrea, Mrs. Denisa Pătraşcu – Secretary of State at the Ministry of Labour, Family and Social Protection, Mr. Damian Drăghici – Adviser to the Prime Minister, Mr. Daniel Funeriu – presidential adviser, Mr. Radu Zlati – representative of the Ministry of Education, representatives of County School Inspectorates, of General Directorates for Social Assistance and Child Protection, of County Resource and Educational Assistance Centres, principals of campaign-included schools, representatives of implementing partners, as well as representatives of nongovernmental organisations.

The main conclusion drawn at the Conference is that partnerships between education, social and health sectors, between central and local authorities, between the Government, the Parliament and the civil society are not only necessary but crucial for addressing complex phenomena like absenteeism and drop-out.
“Education is a powerful social inclusion tool – children who don’t go to school on a regular basis are most often excluded from society, and illiteracy perpetuates the cycle of poverty and marginalisation. According to numerous research studies, quality education – especially for preschool-aged children – is one of the most profitable investments a country can make”, declared Mrs. Sandie Blanchet, UNICEF Representative in Romania.

At the Conference, an Education Platform was also launched as a joint initiative of UNICEF, the Federation of Nongovernmental Child Rights Organisations (FONPC), the French Embassy to Romania and World Vision, aimed at leveraging public policies, social and educational programmes and projects, and at improving relevant practices by pooling best practice models for social and educational services. As part of the initiative, a map will be drawn up with programmes and services delivered by local public authorities, NGOs and other service providers from the County of Cluj with a view to fulfilling children’s right to education and leisure.

About the School Attendance Initiative

Based on alarming statistics concerning children who drop out of school, in 2010 UNICEF teamed up with the Ministry of Education, Research, Youth and Sport and started a campaign to prevent and reduce absenteeism and drop-out. In the 2010-2011 school year, 38 schools from 16 counties were included in the programme. The exceptional first-year results encouraged UNICEF to expand the campaign to other 103 schools from 37 counties. 

During the 2011 – 2012 school year, the School Attendance Initiative was rolled out in 141 schools reaching more than 50,000 students in almost every part of the country. For the 2012 – 2013 school year, 100 new communities will join the initiative, with approximately 100,000 children and families gaining from the activities.
For the third year of the ‘Let’s Go to School!’ initiative, UNICEF’s implementing partners are: the Ministry of Education, Research, Youth and Sport (MERYS), the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), the Resource and Information Centre for Social Professionals (CRIPS), Holt Romania and “Impreună” Community Development Agency. The initiative is also supported by corporate partners like GDF SUEZ Energy Romania – as the main partner and by BRD-Groupe Société General customers through monthly giving.

With the initiative, UNICEF steps in at the level of schools, families and communities. School-level interventions are aimed at turning schools into child-friendly settings and at training school mediators, principals and teachers to tailor their working style to each student’s needs. At family level, focus is put on strengthening parents’ relationship with school, on their involvement in the children’s academic life and improving child-parent communication and relationship. Community-level interventions are meant to convince and mobilise community members to engage and support families whose children are at risk of dropping out.

 

About UNICEF Romania

UNICEF is on the ground in Romania and other 190 countries to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. 

In Romania, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, quality education, and the protection of children from violence, neglect, and HIV/AIDS.  UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.

For more information, please contact:
Codruța Hedeșiu, Communication Officer, UNICEF Romania, Email chedesiu@unicef.org, Tel +4021 201 78 64
Raluca Dinu, Communication Consultant, UNICEF Romania, Email rdinu@unicef.org, Tel: +40744786809.

 

 
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