The success of the FCG Pilot Programs led the Romanian Parliament to pass the “Fiecare Copil în Grădiniță Law” (#248/2015) adopting the central mechanism of OvidiuRo’s FCG Pilot Program: giving poor families* the opportunity to receive € 11 per month in food coupons if they bring their 3-to-5-year-old children to grădiniță (preschool and kindergarten) every day.
* households where the monthly income is under 284 lei (€63) per family member.
The “FCG Law”, which passed with the full support of all the major political parties in October 2016, reflected the government’s recognition that early education is crucial for Romania’s most disadvantaged children if they are to have a chance to succeed in school – and thus to work their way out of multi-generational poverty.
The Law also comes as an important element of Romania’s efforts to meet European Commission objectives of reducing school abandonment, poverty and inequity. (In 2014 the official school dropout rate had risen to over 18%. It was estimated in 2015 that only one in three poor children benefit from any formal early education, despite the fact that over 80% of all Romanian children do attend at least one year of preschool.)
The passage of the Fiecare Copil în Grădiniță Law was a major step forward for Romanian education and social equity at the grassroots level. But it was only the first step.
In the words of OvidiuRo’s cofounder, Maria Gheorghiu,
“Law 248/2015 establishes the legal framework for inclusive preschool education in Romania, but the program’s success depends on local deployment. It is essential that communities actively recruit and genuinely welcome all children to preschool and then strictly enforce the daily attendance requirement.”
We must give children of largely illiterate parents the tools to stick with school because staying in school is crucial to achieving basic job skills required in today’s market. Only participation in the job market will give these children a fighting chance to work their way out of poverty and become active contributors to their communities and Romanian society.