How can we support rural education?

how can we support rural education? Putting an end to school dropout, though an emergency for Romanian education, has not seen any progress in the past years

Putting an end to school dropout, though an emergency for Romanian education, has not seen any progress in the past years. Quite the opposite, EU statistics show a growing number of students are leaving the system, at a rate which in 2016 stood at 18.5%, higher than in the previous years. The worst situation is in the countryside, where children abandon school in larger numbers than in cities. The gaps between the rural and the urban areas have also been highlighted in a study titled "Investing in rural education", launched this autumn by World Vision Romania.

Gabriela Onofrei, one of the foundation's managers told us more about this situation:

"Data provided by the Education Ministry show that there is a 24% gap between the rates of participation in the education process in rural and urban areas respectively. One out of ten schools in the rural environment does not manage to see all its pupils graduating to the fifth grade, and half of them lose most of their students after 8 grades. The highest school dropout rate is registered in high schools, with only less than a quarter of them not being faced with this problem. Some 40% of the pupils who drop school after graduating from the eighth grade remain in their communities and work for their families."

Unfortunately, rural education is faced with other, equally big problems. For instance, a comparison between the results of the 2017 national evaluation, an examination that all 8-grade graduates must take before joining high-school, show that the average performance level in rural areas is lower than in the urban areas. In fact, this is exactly when problems get worse, right before high-school. The drop-out rate grows dramatically because high-schools in rural areas, which are significantly less, are also located far from student's homes. 

Here is Gabriela Onofrei again:

 "It's quite difficult for a child who lives in a rural area to get to high-school, and the study also covers the situation in which children must take a very long and difficult road in order to get to school. More than 18% of the respondents have said that school is too far, and the average duration of a trip is 90 minutes. There are also significant differences between the children's school performance, and the number of those who get grades before 5 is three times bigger in rural areas than in the urban ones. Also, the number of average grades above 8 is 20% higher in urban areas."

In order to encourage children to keep going to school, World Vision is running a project called "I want to be in the 9th grade", which has been implemented for ten years now. Over this period, some 1,300 children benefited from financial support, granted by sponsors, in order to stay in school. Another programme is "Bread and Tomorrow", which ensures a warm meal and homework support for children in primary school.

Another problem in rural education is the scarcity of staff. Many teachers have to travel long distances in order to get to their schools. Also, the gaps in terms of qualification are big as well, as most teachers that have a PhD degree or the first level of qualification are based in towns and cities. Ema Barba, a communication officer with the Teach for Romania programme told us more:

 "Statistically speaking, 96% of the children born in the rural areas will never get to college. Also, if we speak of the Roma population, the percentage is even higher, 99%. Also, human resources are limited as teachers hardly choose to go and work in rural schools. That is why we see that there are many gaps that need to be bridged. It's important for this teaching posts in rural areas to be occupied, for children to benefit from the right education."

In order to improve the situation, the "Teach for Romania" programme, part of the international network "Teach for All", runs projects aimed at attracting and integrating teachers into the rural education system. And it appears that there would be enough teachers willing to do that, given the big number of applicants and trainees that have completed the programme. 

Ema Barba:  "Currently, there are 66 teachers in our programme. We already have two generations of graduates, people who took part in the programme for two years and are now active in various civic engagement activities. We are currently present in 70 schools in 12 counties. Last year we had 1,000 candidates who wanted to be trained by the Teach for Romanian programme. We were happy to see that so many people, who could literally do anything they wanted in various other fields, chose to become teachers in the public education system, especially in disadvantaged areas."

The program has four stages, of which the first two are preparation and training, and the third teaching proper, for two years. The last stage starts at the end of this two year period of teaching, when the Teach for Romania educators and teachers can carry on their work in the education system or can choose related fields, in which they can also support the reform of the Romanian education system.
Publicat: 2017-11-01 10:35:00
Vizualizari: 397