School Attendance Initiative

Short summary

The poverty of families, the lack of interest of parents in sending their children to school are among the main factors favoring school dropout.

In order to diminish this phenomenon, UNICEF has launched the campaign "Go to School!". This is an initiative supported by the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Labor, Family, Social Protection and the Elderly, as well as by non-governmental organizations.

During 2010-2015 UNICEF carried out School Attendance Initiative (SAI),a model of intervention addressing in an integrated manner the major causes of school dropout and absenteeism. Through an extended partnership at national level, including public and private stakeholders, SAI sought at engaging duty bearers at all levels (national, central and local),as well as empowering key rights holders (children at risk, parents and school personnel) to act together so that all children go to school and benefit from the universal right to education.

Context of good practice

Starting in 2010, the intervention grew organically and was implemented in 250 disadvantaged communities from rural (60%) to urban areas (40%) as well.

The model promoted a set of actions directed at 3 different layers:

  • School level – investing in schools’ capacity to tackle dropout and embrace the concept of inclusive schools through training and sharing best practices. It consisted of teachers’ training on variable methodologies to make them able to equip children with the basic skills and enhance their learning capacity. Supplies and equipment were also provided to the poorest schools.
  • Family level – making parents aware of the value of education and empowering them so that they become active supporters of education. Their parenting skills were developed with the help of mediators. They visited the households to persuade them to send their children to school.
  • Community level – engage the community in order to address school dropout and provide concrete solutions to support school participation of all children. Several different stakeholders work together to decrease dropout and have more inclusive schools.

The model provided evidence based recommendations that influenced educational policies.

Impact and results:

  • In 50% of the schools involved in SAI drop out and absenteeism rates decreased by 15-40%.
  • 85% of children at major risk for dropout remained in school and improved their school performance.
  • School directors, teachers and school mediators have new knowledge and improved skills for promoting quality inclusive education.
  • Improved infrastructure for preventing school dropout and absenteeism: community networks for preventing dropout developed and school-family partnerships were established.
  • Children declare that schools are friendlier, as interactions with teachers and parents improved.

After the first years of SAI and its convincing results, Unicef launched a new integrated project on “Community-based child services”.

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Target group of good practice:

Other

Country:

Romania

Author:

Luminita Costache

Institution:

UNICEF Romania

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