“A child who does not benefit from formal education has no hope for a better life, he is condemned from childhood to a life of poverty and marginalization by those who should be protecting him… Radical changes cannot happen in the short term, but part of the living conditions can improve, so that the environment will not be harmful to the health and development of the younger generation.”
VALENTINA MAGHIRESCU, Inocenti Foundation Director, Bucharest
Glina is an extremely disadvantaged area of Bucharest. When the area started to develop a few years ago, the poorest members of the population were pushed out towards the landfill of Bucharest which is located there.
As part of the misery families live in, adults are illiterate and children are not enrolled in school; most have neither identity cards nor birth certificates. Instead of attending school, children are kept busy helping their parents collect waste (the average schooling is only about 2 years).
With no formal education or professional training, parents cannot generate positive changes in their families and children do not have any alternatives to aspire to when they grow up.
Local authorities have recognized lacking the proper means to address this degrading situation and requiring external support.
The Educational Support Center of Glina opened its doors in March 2013 to ensure school access and prevent desertion. The target is the community around the landfill in Glina, Ilfov county.
The project adopts a comprehensive approach focusing on children but taking care in involving both their families and the community at large.
Interventions include: eliminating the legal, social, health and hygiene issues that prevent a child from attending school; identifying the learning needs of each child and creating individual plans and activities to ensure school success; enhancing parent-teacher communication to reinforce classroom learning; and organizing regular extracurricular activities.
While the main goal is to ensure children stay in school for at least the first 6 curricular years, these at-risk children come from families with social problems other than poverty. Thus, the project involves parents and relatives in an attempt to improve their parenting skills and create a healthier, more balanced environment for the children. Volunteers are recruited and trained from within the family to serve as tutors and mentors.
Glina Public School
Over the first year (2013) the project will support 10-12 children and their families on a daily basis (approximately 60 beneficiaries). The children are in grades I-IV and are attending or will attend the Glina Public School, who is providing space, facilities and logistical support for the following activities:
In order to measure and ensure the project’s impact, the following are also being implemented:
The center operates with one teacher, a social worker and a coordinator, supported by a network of 10 permanent volunteers.
We currently have 13 children from the Glina school attending our educational center on a daily basis.
During the first months of implementation, project activities were diversified and constantly adjusted to better meet the community’s assessed needs.
Thanks to the educational support program, all of the children have improved their school results since the project started. The team works in close collaboration with school representatives and teachers, in order to closely monitor children’s academic progress, both in terms of attendance and results.
In order to foster the children’s social and communication skills, the center offers a range of indoor and outdoor non-academic activities, including: drawing and painting lessons, reading clubs, movie discussions, vocabulary-building games, sports and field trips. Field trips have proven to be an excellent way for children to broaden their experience and knowledge, while contributing to bring this marginalized community back in touch with the rest of society.
As the family context has direct effect on children’s academic performance, quarterly home visits are carried out and monthly support groups are made available to parents. Specialized counseling service with a social worker is also provided, and is adapted to individual needs. The main problems we have helped adults solve include: preparing the required documents to claim social benefits, facilitating access to health services and specialized medical units, vocational guidance, and preparing employment documents. We have assisted 14 adults with these specialized counseling services.
Through all these activities, we have managed to improve the parents’ engagement in their children’s formal education.