Inputting attendance data in the national Education Database (SIIIR). School personnel in many villages were not adept at using SIIIR, a mandatory tool for implementing Law 248/2015. OvidiuRo trained each school secretary and left detailed written instructions – and also encouraged county authorities to conduct county-wide trainings.
Delay in the distribution of food coupons. The law states that coupons must be distributed within 15 days of the end of the month, but some communities waited as late as the end of June to distribute the coupons.
Challenge of creating a cohesive local team (mayor/social worker/principal/teachers/Roma representatives) in applying the FCG Law.
Glitches in the regulations. Conflicting interpretations of the secondary legislation led many local teams to declare children who were already 6 years old ineligible for the program. OvidiuRo invested many hours in getting the legal language modified so that 6-year-old children who were still in kindergarten were not cut out of the program.
Lack of student supplies and classroom educational materials. OvidiuRo encouraged the County Councils to seek a county-wide solution – and recommended that they seek support from the local business sector (e.g. OvidiuRo brought together the Sibiu County Council and two local companies to form a partnership to provide school supplies for all children in the FCG program in Sibiu county).
Reaching/recruiting the most marginalized children. In some communities where the recruiting process was not a priority for the local team, OvidiuRo found a high level of 3-to 5-year olds who were not registered and whose families were not aware of the food coupon incentive program.
Classroom space shortages. Too often the local solution is to cap registration when it exceeds the Ministry’s guidelines. Not only does this penalize many Roma children who often register right before school starts, it keeps the need for more classroom space hidden from county and national authorities. Most importantly, it leaves the actual number of children who are seeking early education unreported.
Severe shortage of social workers and Roma School Mediators in rural areas. Need for an efficient (and relatively simple) mechanism for distributing food coupons to children who do not qualify due to a lack of identity documents or other technical reasons. (Carrefour Foundation is making it possible for OvidiuRo to provide coupons to these children.)
Migration. Parents working abroad. Both taking their children with them and leaving them home with relatives or neighbors negatively impacts the children’s access to education. OvidiuRo encouraged the local teams to closely track these families and take the necessary measures to monitor the children and also recommended that local teams implement parenting programs.
Overwhelmingly bipartisan support for the FCG Law. The all-important secondary legislation was finalized in record time – enabling the law to go into effect from the first day of the 2015-2016 second semester.
Prompt remedies to the secondary legislation based on feedback from OvidiuRo & local authorities corrected initial oversights.
Large numbers of children and parents attended OvR read-aloud sessions, usually many more than local authorities predicted.
Many poor parents were eager to register their children for grădiniță.
Local authorities were receptive to OvidiuRo’s suggestions for dealing with problems and county authorities were supportive of the initiative.
All identified problems have short-term fixes – and long-term solutions!