In Romania, tens of thousands of children experience exclusion from school. Roma children and children from disadvantaged communities face the biggest risk for exclusion due to a number of reasons including poverty and discrimination. Many do not start school, are absent for long periods, frequently change schools or completely drop out.
In the poorest district in the capital city of Bucharest the adults, mostly uneducated Roma, work only occasionally. Many of the homes are not connected to gas and water. This is where Alexandru lives. He lives in one room with his parents and three younger brothers. His father, who works as a handyman/day labourer, provides the family’s income.
Learning how to learn
Alexandu is one of the 1,175 children enrolled in summer kindergarten and after school programmes, run by Save the Children and supported by H&M Foundation. Here, he has received educational support that includes basic hygiene, social skills and language development. Practical skills like how to wash hands, routines around mealtimes, play and interaction with peers have also been developed. This support has ensured better school participation for Alexandru and has led to better results both educationally and socially. It has helped him integrating faster, developing social abilities and learning how to learn.
110 teachers and other academic specialists are part of the project. They have received special training on how to support and work together with vulnerable children to prepare them to enrol and stay in school. The roles of the the teachers is very important for the future of these children. One teacher describes participating in the course organized by Save the Children like a rediscovery. By being part of the project, a better understanding of vulnerable groups has been achieved and all teachers have learned new communication techniques to support children at risk of school dropout.
Involving the family
Alexandru has entered first class but is still supported with additional school preparation, school supplies and participates in free-time activities. The project also supports parents through social counselling and the families with material support such as clothing, footwear, medicine and personal hygiene items. Medical records provided by Alexandru’s mother indicate that he needs more nutritional meals and he is provided a daily meal in school.
Today Alexandru is doing very well in school. When he grows up he’d like to become a policeman. And when he has a salary, he will use his money to support the poor children he says. “I took the first prize in the preparatory class, I had a crown and I told the children that, if you go to school you will be smart.”