Romania has one of the highest levels of school dropout in Europe, and the highest rate of functional illiterates (nearly 50% of the adolescents). The north-eastern region of Romania is among the poorest regions in EU. Hence it is unfortunately common, that there are families in or around the cities, which give no support to their children to have any kind of care for education. Poverty, spatial isolation, closed communities and culture are just further reasons that contribute to this situation. Families living in these communities face poverty or, because of parents’ lack of education and culture, most of the times, children’s education is not a priority. Thus, the young ones, instead of being in school, are helping their parents to provide for the family, whether by begging, working, collecting recyclables or by staying home and caring for their younger siblings, while their parents are away.
Due to the above-mentioned reasons, these children cannot perform in school as their mates which leads to marginalization, to poor feedbacks, to low self-esteem and to low or no motivation to go back. Furthermore, a lot of them have no electricity at home and no appropriate space to do their school assignments which result in poor performances.
Our solution for the identified problem is the Mobile School, an educational tool that was designed for working with street children/children in need. The guiding principle is: If you can’t go to school, the school will come to you, and while we do not intend to replace the formal education, we aim to increase the self-esteem of the children that we are working with and to help decreasing their educational gaps.
The Mobile School is a box on four wheels, which can easily be transported in any area of the city. From the box, we can expand four boards to which we can attach various panels that can easily be replaced, and that are structured in areas such as: literacy, mathematics, creative therapy, health education, prevention of drugs etc. We currently have over 300 panels that we use in different configurations adapted to the children we are working with. The entire learning process is done through playing.
With the Mobile School we go in the community directly, where these children live and we organize weekly outdoor activities . The activities last up to two hours and children are accompanied by a team of educators that provide constant positive feedback to boost their self-esteem, since the main purpose of the methodology is to do that: raise the self-esteem of the children.
As a result of over ten years of operating with the Mobile School, we have managed to significantly reduce the school dropout rate, to create extremely powerful connections with the community (with both the parents and the children) and to push children through the formal education system so that they can get a career that would help them break the vicious circle of poverty in their community.
The program is run by Save the Children Iasi which is a nongovernmental organization, democratic, independent, non-profit, politically and religiously unconditioned, created in 1991, member of the International Save the Children Alliance.
Context of good practice
Ever since its beginnings it adhered to the children’s rights protection movement in Romania, according to the United Nations’ Convention on Children’s Rights.
Our vision, in a general understanding, is to create a world where all the rights of children are respected.
Save the Children acts for a world:
- where every child is appreciated and respected;
- that listens and learns from the children;
- where every child has hopes and perspectives;
- where every child is protected against any kind of violence, abuse and exploitation.
Mission: Save the Children Association Iasi acts for respect for children’s rights and for modifying the politics and legislation in children’s benefit, by organizing awareness campaigns and by supporting children in need. We acknowledge and emphasize the responsibilities of the parents, legal guardians, teachers and other authorities that act in children’s interest. We support the parents and the specialists working with children to fulfil their obligations.
Save the Children Association Iasi, through the programs it implemented, developed expertise related to the following categories of children:
- physically, sexually and psychologically abused children;
- trafficked children;
- economically exploited children;
- children alone at home (that have at least one parent abroad, working);
- children that had their legal rights trespassed;
- children affected by poverty;
- children that abandoned school or are in risk of dropping out school.
Also, beneficiaries of our programs are:
- parents and relatives of the children or the persons that take care of them;
- specialists (psychologists, medics, social workers, teachers. policemen, judges, prosecutors, etc.);
- institutions and NGOs that work in the field of child protection.
Save the Children Iasi operates at regional level, in the North-Eastern Region of Romania, the poorest region in EU. These two factors combined describe an alarming picture, since the children are often the category most affected by poverty and lack or improper education is certain not to produce any change.
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