Supporting children's transition to high school - the Quality Inclusive Education Package (QIE)

Together for the future - children need support from school, teachers, parents and community for a successful transition to high school.

Pupils in their break.
UNICEF/Anamaria Dinulescu

The Challenge

Transition to high school or vocational training schools is one of the milestones in a child's education. 

  • only four in five children in Romania complete 8th grade and 7 in 10 complete high-school or vocational training (UNICEF study, 2017)
  • four in ten 15-year-old students barely write, read and count (PISA test, 2018)
  • one in five adolescents and young people doesn’t go to school and gets no training (UNICEF study, 2014)

Most rural communities and remote urban neighborhoods have primary schools and a lower secondary schools (grade 5-8), high schools and vocational training schools being available mostly in towns and cities.

The consequence for pupils from disadvantaged communities is a high dropout rate between grade 8 and grade 9, before they can finish compulsory education.

  • The enrolment rate of rural students is 20 percentage points lower than the one of urban students and girls are more at risk of dropping out than boys.
  • Many times, pupils affected by poverty and living in rural areas are left out of high school because of access issues. In some cases, there is no public transportation system, or it is too expensive for their families to pay for, as well as for other costs like lunches, clothing etc.
  • Sometimes, the lack of education of parents contributes to  their lack of understanding of the school system and to their inability to support their children's education and aspirations.
  • They do not necessarily see the benefits of high education while they see the opportunity cost of not sending their children to school or using their labor at home.
  • This reduces chances for their children to have a successful transition to high school. 

A multifaceted phenomenon, caused by educational and social vulnerabilities

The Solution

This is a multifaceted phenomenon, caused by educational and social vulnerabilities. That is why UNICEF in Romania developed a solution that requires a cross-sectoral approach, bringing together the education and social sectors and addressing children’s needs with a holistic approach. Starting with 2018, the Quality Inclusive Education Package has a component addressing the transition of pupils to high schools, called "Together for the future".

Children

The programme provides individual support for vulnerable adolescents to increase the transition rate to high school.

It helps disadvantaged pupils overcome the learning gaps. Based on the students’ scores during grades 6-8 and on their education choices, in disadvantaged schools QIE offers free tutoring to students at risk of dropping out. In grades 9-10, students with grades below expected levels also get additional, free tutoring.

"Together for the future" motivates adolescents to continue their education and increase their resilience. Schools teams up with "role models", parents, adults and older or former pupils from the community who have succeeded through education to provide mentoring to students at risks of dropping out between grades 8 and 9.

QIE provides individual scholarships to the most vulnerable adolescents, in order to support the financial cost of going to high school or to vocational training schools.

Schools and high schools pillar

"Together for the future" trains school principals and members of the Schools’ Administration Board to promote a results-based management approach, with focus on facilitating students’ transition from school to high school, ensuring an inclusive school environment, promoting partnerships with children, parents and members of the community.

The programme improves school counselling and orientation by training counselors to better respond to children’s, teachers’ and parents’ needs, while facilitating the transition process to high school and building real learning communities.

Parents

The programme supports parents of adolescents to develop their parental skills and help their children continue schooling.

QIE offers access to integrated social services, supporting adolescents and their families. It brings together school counsellors, teachers, school management, social workers and local authorities to identify and support families with adolescent students at risk of dropping out to access comprehensive services, including by facilitating access to cash benefits and scholarships.

Ionela, 14, exiting her High School building. She is supported through the QIE transition programme.
UNICEF/Cybermedia
Ionela, 14, on her way back home after classes. She attends Grigore Antipa Technological High School in Bacău and is supported through the QIE transition programme.

Data and results

  • almost 1,000 adolescents from 35 schools have been registered so far. The focus and priority were on the children in the last grade of lower secondary education. The process of registering pupils at risk of drop-out is on-going.
  • 280 teachers from 35 lower secondary schools were trained to better support students’ transition.
  • 49 mentors, pupils from the 19 high schools involved in the programme, have been selected. More will follow. A peer mentoring profile was developed.The mentors will accompany the students enrolling in upper secondary education through guidance and orientation, sharing their transition experiences, connecting the mentee with the high-school resources.
  • 126 pupils fulfilled the eligibility criteria and were selected to receive scholarships at the start of the 2019-2020 school year.
  • 53 parent educators from 34 school units have already been trained.  400 parents will be involved in the program at the county level. The existing curricula on parenting were refined to give specific information that enables parents to use a positive approach to support at-risk children’s transition to high school.