UNICEF in Romania: If we do not take steps now to continue essential services for children, the post-pandemic world will be tougher for the vulnerable
Children's Board of Romania and UNICEF, in online dialogue on the effects of the crisis caused by coronavirus on children
Bucharest, April 14, 2020. Members of the Children's Board of Romania met online today with the UNICEF Representative in Romania, Pieter Bult. The dialogue was transmitted live on the UNICEF Facebook page.
Given that the Romanian schools have been closed for over a month, and the students are at home in the exclusive care of their parents, UNICEF wanted to find out from the children, through this online dialogue, what are the challenges they face during this period and how they manage to overcome them. In turn, the participating children asked questions to the UNICEF Representative about the organization's actions to reduce the negative effects of COVID-19 on the little ones and, in particular, on the vulnerable children and their families in Romania.
"It's a challenging time for us all. UNICEF in Romania is working hard to support the COVID-19 response and, at the same time, strives to ensure the maintenance of essential services for children: education, protection and health. Even before this pandemic, the situation of children in Romania was difficult, and what is happening now will make things worse. If we do not take action now to continue essential services for children, the post-pandemic world will be tougher for children. We are conducting an analysis of the situation and developing protocols so that the community professionals in the front line can continue to go on the field, safely, to provide services to children from vulnerable environments,” said Pieter Bult, UNICEF representative in Romania.
The children in Romania are concerned about the safety of parents who continue to go to work, the education they receive during this period, the environment and the impact that quarantine measures have on reducing pollution, information sources and the need to have a personal space. The children told how they manage to deal with the new normality: they find new hobbies, they learn to cook, they try to watch less news and keep in touch with their friends.
"I am lucky because I can study at home, but I know that there are many places in Romania where access to technology is limited. My colleagues and I are more 'schooled' during this period than before, we have even more homework to do, but other children do not have access to remote education. Even if we have online learning tools, we don't always know how to use them and there are teachers who know less than the students how to use them,” said Sebastian, 16, a student from Ploiesti.
According to an online survey conducted between March 22-25 by UNICEF through the platform www.qie.ro, which was answered by more than 4,600 children, about 1,000 parents and 1,000 teachers, two weeks before the questionnaires were applied only 2 out of 3 of the children attended online courses. According to teachers, for online education to be effective and accessible to all, 50% of respondents believe that there is a need for mobile devices for children, 30% of educational resources and 16% of IT equipment for schools. 37% of parents said they spend more time with their children and would like advice on how to use this time in a positive way.
"This crisis will be an important opportunity for humanity to understand that we must protect the world, modernize the education system, find new ways of learning," said Anda, 15, from Oradea.
UNICEF estimates show that 9% of children and young people under the age of 18 worldwide (2.34 billion) live in one of the 186 countries where, due to COVID-19, some form of limitation is applied to freedom of movement. 60% of the children in the world, that is 1.4 billion young people, live in one of the 82 countries where measures of total (7%) or partial (53%) closure of economic and social activities are applied, the risk being that the current crisis to become one of children's rights.
You can watch the recording of the meeting here: UNICEF Romania - Children's Board and Pieter Bult Q&A
Established in 2019, the Children's Board of Romania is a group made up of children of different ages, from all over the country, coming from family backgrounds and the child protection system, with different ethnic origins and with a varied experience in the field of representation.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org.