18 May 2022

School Counsellors

In Romania the rate of early school leavers (ESL) was in 2019 of 15.3% while more than 370,000 children of compulsory school age are out of school, falling through the gaps between the different sectors in Romania (education, child protection, social assistance, health, etc.). Vulnerable children face significant challenges in terms of access and participation to education. And one key front to address all these challenges and generate positive impact is through school counselling. School counsellors work with students of all ages and their families, from pre-kindergarten to grade 12, providing valuable individual or small group support, counselling and psychological assessment for students with specific needs. Their daily work activities may include counselling students, assessing students’ learning and behavior, helping families make informed decisions about their child’s education, identifying adjustments to support students’ learning and liaising with external agencies regarding students’ wellbeing. School counsellors represent an important pillar in preventing and reducing school dropout and early school leaving, in supporting transitions between educational cycles and even for increasing the student outcomes, especially for the most at risk children/students. They have an important role in parenting education and counselling, as well as in liaising with child protection, health or other services in monitoring and cross-sector management of educational risks. However, research demonstrates that student-to-counsellor ratios, how the school counselling program is structured and organized and what counsellors need to do and choose to do matter1. They all are accountable for the efficacy and efficiency of school counselling.
01 October 2020

The story of Cătălin – a high school student whose disease confines him to a wheelchair

Cătălin is a 17-year-old teenager suffering from Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a genetic disorder characterised by progressive muscle wasting. Despite the rapid progression of the disease, Cătălin has managed to get to high school, supported and encouraged not only by his family but also by his teachers and classmates. Duchenne muscular dystrophy…, “Without the school’s support, I would have had to take him out of class”, When he could not move around without a wheelchair anymore, in third grade, the family needed support from the school. They didn’t hesitate to ask for it and they got it. All his classes had to be conducted on the ground floor, an access ramp had to be built in school and an accessible toilet had to be set up. The parents got everything they asked…, “I couldn’t bear for him to face another shock at school as well”, When he started lower secondary school, he enjoyed the full support of his class teacher and the other teachers. If things had been different and the boy hadn’t felt comfortable at school, his family would have probably withdrawn him from mainstream education. The disease was already way too agonising for him and any school troubles would have…, A devoted mother, admired by the parents of Cătălin’s classmates, The family’s dedication and strive to send the boy to school in spite of his health problems made a great impression on the teachers and parents from the district school that Cătălin attended until eighth grade. “I first noticed, many years ago, this mother who always accompanied her child to school and stood out from the crowd. At first, he had…, Cătălin doesn’t want special treatment, The boy is currently in high school, majoring in industrial chemistry at the “Costin Nenițescu” Technical College in Bucharest, in a class of 30 students. He is good friends with most of his colleagues and, just like in lower grades, he is supported by his teachers, who appreciate his calm and respectful way of being. Although based on his…, A very uncertain future, Mainstream schooling and the close relationship with the teachers and classmates have been like a breath of fresh air for Cătălin and his family. His disease, with no cure yet, is rapidly progressing despite all the conventional and alternative therapies he tried and all the desperate efforts to slow it down. That is why his mother says she cannot…
25 September 2020

Recommendations for starting a safe school year 2020-2021, while promoting quality inclusive education for all children in Romania

This document was created to support the national, county, and local authorities to plan the beginning of the school year 2020-2021 safely for children and for all the school staff, as well as to provide quality inclusive education throughout this unprecedented worldwide situation. The goal was to identify a set of solutions which may help reduce both the impact of the pandemic upon learning, and the gaps in terms of access to education after schools were closed from March to July 2020 in Romania. This material was drafted by a team of 18 principals involved in implementing the ”Quality inclusive education: transition from lower to upper secondary education” model, and by representatives of the county institutions in Bacău, at the initiative and coordinated by UNICEF Romania. The recommendations proposed are based on the three scenarios displayed by the Ministry of Education and Research, as well as on the experience acquired by the education experts from March until July 2020, under the circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic. The solutions presented also show the outcomes of the consultations organized at a community level on topics such as challenges, vulnerabilities, constraints, and solutions specific to each and every scenario. Special attention was paid to vulnerable students and to those at risk of school drop-out. The considerations and the proposals submitted are equally looking at removing barriers for attending education, supporting learning and guaranteeing well-being for all students, as well as supplying the necessary support for teachers, school staff, and managerial teams, for them to be able to safely provide inclusive contexts and quality education services. We hope these recommendations may help design some informed decisions, able to enhance access to quality inclusive education for all the children.