One child in five, aged 15 to 18, doesn’t attend school. Many of those who are not registered in the educational system are either very poor or very rich.
Liviu Florea, editor-in-chief at AlTreileaSector.ro
174.000 children aged 15 to 18 are not enrolled in the Romanian educational system, according to a study made by UNICEF Romania, built on data for the educational year 2011/2012. “The study presents some alarming numbers for Romania. We found out that 19% of teenagers aged 15 to 19 are out of the educational system. As a comparison, in the other neighboring countries of Romania, the early abandonment rates are a lot lower. For instance, the rate in Bulgaria is 12,5%, it is 5,7% in Poland and 11,5% in Hungary (…). How can you be competitive as a country if 19% of your teenagers do not attend school?”, declared Sandie Blanchet, the representative of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Romania.
Most teenagers aged 15 to18 who do not attend school have left the educational system in the ninth or the tenth grade, according to the same study. “Only 1% of the 174.000 young people who are not registered in high schools, have never been to school”, said Ciprian Fartușnic, director at Institutul de Științe ale Educației (The Institute for Educational Sciences).
More than half of the children outside the educational system who were interviewed for the study, had been working in the week previous to the discussion. “Among the young who have a job, most of them are aged between 17 and 18. 99% of those who work are unpaid or help their parents in household chores”, emphasizes Fartușnic.
Most teenagers aged 15 to 18 who do not attend school are from the North-East, South-Muntenia and South-East regions of the country
Only 53,6% of the young people aged 19 to 21 were registered in the educational system at the beginning of the 2011/2012 school year
At the same time, most of the young people aged 15 to 18 who are not enrolled in the educational system, live in rural areas. “If you are a teenager from rural areas, you have 30% more chances to abandon school than if you live in an urban area”, states Sandie Blanchet. Moreover, those who do not go to school are either very rich or very poor.
By the end of 2020, Romania must diminish the rate of early school abandonment to 11,3% from 17,4%, as was the rate in 2012. “It is very unlikely that Romania manages to fulfil all targets imposed by the European Union if things go on functioning as they currently are”, added Blanchet.
UNICEF Romania has a few recommendations for the measures which authorities should adopt so that youngsters and children do not abandon school anymore. The first among them is the increase of the budget allocated to the educational sector. “This increase in the budget should be allocated correctly (…) If at least 6% of the GDP is allocated for education, this should be enough as long as we make sure that the money goes where it should”, stresses Blanchet.
The second recommendation of the NGO is about increasing the quality of the educational system. “Romanian teachers master many theoretical notions, but they are not good at teaching. Children need to develop the competences which are now sought after on the labour market”, notes the representative of UNICEF in Romania.
Not lastly, authorities should encourage the access to education of children and youngsters, by providing social assistants, medical personnel and school mediators in each Romanian community.
The research centered on educational enrolment of children aged 15 to 18 completes the study „Toţi copiii la şcoala până în 2015. Iniţiativa globală privind copiii în afara sistemului de educaţie din România” (All children should be in school by 2015. The global initiative regarding children outside the educational system in Romania), published in December 2012.
Translated in English by Alexandra Calu.