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Let's Unite for Children

© UNICEF Romania
Edmond McLoughney, UNICEF Representative, Romania

At a time when the focus is on the financial and economic crisis, there is another crisis which had drawn very limited attention. This is the crisis in education. It primarily touches two areas: one is the declining quality of education; the other is declining school attendance, or    “drop-out”. This issue of the newsletter focuses on school drop-out in Romania.

In this day and age, it is hard to imagine that there are children who do not go to school in Romania. But unfortunately, this is the case and the economic crisis is making it worse. It is probably hard for anyone reading this newsletter to imagine what it is like to go through life barely able to read or write, or maybe not even that much. Put yourself in that person's shoes for a moment. Then one can better appreciate how the roads of opportunity are blocked off. No chance of a decent job; unable to cope with the everyday demands of modern life such as filling out a form, opening a bank account, applying for a job or social assistance, even getting a driving license. Education provides the keys to get through the doors of life, but you don’t have the keys if you don’t have an education. The door is locked forever.

Lack of education means one does not have the know-how to escape the straitjacket of poverty. It excludes one from participation in regular society – it means "social exclusion". The opposite of that is “social inclusion”, and nothing opens the door to social inclusion more than a decent education. It levels the playing field. It gives one a chance to compete, a chance to get a decent job, a chance to enjoy a higher level of self esteem, a chance to fulfil one’s potential.

Education is also a basic human right. This newsletter looks at the status of this basic right in Romania through the lens of school drop-out. It looks at the situation of those children who are destined for a lifetime of exclusion unless they get back in the classroom. It looks at the causes of why is this happening, and it looks at the solutions. It rings an alarm bell. It tries to sound a wake-up call for all of us to do something now before things get worse.

UNICEF is in the course of an awareness and fundraising campaign on school abandonment at the moment and we want to use the money raised to mobilize action at the local level; to use whatever means are possible to address the issue of school attendance before it becomes too late for some. The aim is to put basic education at the heart of the drive for social inclusion, and at the heart of the drive for justice and equal opportunity for all.

Edmond McLoughney
UNICEF Representative in Romania







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