- Before joining the program, the average absenteeism rate of these children was around 40%
Bucharest, January 31, 2018 – a total of 300 children who received support via eight „School After School” social centers from the counties of Alba, Bistrita, Constanta, Ialomita, Ilfov, Maramures, Neamt and Teleorman, financed under the third edition of the Vodafone Romania Foundation’s strategic program “Investment in Rural Areas”, reached a 96% school attendance rate in the 1st quarter of the school year 2017 – 2018. This is a significant improvement registered in only three months from the beginning of the project, compared to the average absenteeism rate of 40% measured in the previous trimester, the increased time spent in school also leading to better results due to the quality assistance offered by the School After School centers.
The project supporting the eight School After School centers is being implemented jointly by the Vodafone Foundation Romania with the Princess Margareta of Romania Foundation and is aimed at supporting small rural communities in general and the children at risk of school dropout in particular. The funding provided by the Vodafone Romania Foundation under this program amounts to almost 280,000 lei out of a total budget of over 420,000 lei.
The Vodafone Romania Foundation’s decision to invest in „School After School” centers is based on the results of the national study „Investing in Children’s Education in the Rural Communities” , conducted in 2017. The findings of this study show that more than two-thirds of the schools in rural areas are facing at least one educational risk factor, including poor performances of school children in the national performance evaluation, school dropout, high rates of absenteeism and class repetition, plus one or more socio-educational risks related to, for example, children coming from economically disadvantaged families or the inadequate school facilities and teaching aids.
The Princess Margareta of Romania Foundation and the Vodafone Romania Foundation have decided to assist through their partnership the development of local rural capacity to support their children via the eight „School after School” social centers. Two of the objectives pursued by the project, designed to prevent school dropout in rural areas, are to increase school attendance rate and children’s school performance. The 300 children included in the program were provided with assistance in doing their homework and in narrowing their knowledge gaps, with a warm daily meal, as well as with the chance to participate in workshops and vocational or social-recreational activities meant to develop their social skills. Parent counseling sessions, focusing on the living conditions within the family, have added to the efforts to keep children connected with the school.
In November, 24 education professionals and members of the staff from the eight social centers participated in a course on developing their communication skills and acquiring knowledge about non-formal education methods. The participants have learned how to become more effective in their work with children coming from poor communities and how to better interact with them so as to help them become more confidence in their own abilities. The project will be expanded in 2018 by adding further actions aimed at strengthening the capacity of the social centers to provide effective educational support in small communities.
The Vodafone Romania Foundation is a Romanian nongovernmental charitable organization, established in 1998, which operates separately and independently from the Vodafone Romania SA’s business. During its 20 years of activity, Vodafone Romania Foundation has funded 1,104 programs run by 706 NGOs throughout the country, in the fields of healthcare, education and social services. These projects had a total of 2.7 million beneficiaries – children, young and old people and physically, socially or economically disadvantaged people. So far, Vodafone Romania has invested over 28 million euros in projects run by nonprofit partner organizations. More details about the Foundation’s programs are available at fundatia-vodafone.ro, http://jurnaldebine.fundatia-vodafone.ro/ and www.facebook.com/fundatiavodafone.
Over its 27 years of existence, the Princess Margareta of Romania Foundation has supported projects dedicated to children in need, who are exposed to extreme poverty, school dropout or family abandonment, health and social exclusion risks. A total of 25,000 children and young people and about 2,500 families with precarious living means, as well as 650 small local NGOs, have benefited from support and assistance from the Foundation since 1990.