The first stage of the national advocacy campaign aimed at “Sustainable financing of after-school educational support programs, as a solution for reducing functional illiteracy and inclusion of children at educational risk” took place at the end of February 2020 in Alba Iulia and Sfantu Gheorghe. The advocacy campaign is part of the “Educational support for vulnerable children in Romania. Steps towards institutionalization.” project, implemented by HEKS/EPER Romania Foundation, in collaboration with the Orthodox Philanthropy Association Alba and Christian Foundation Diakonia Sfantu Gheorghe.
In our vision, the after-school programs contain educational, social, psychological, counseling and support activities, essential for keeping children at risk of school dropout in the compulsory school cycle. These activities are tailored to the needs and potential of children in different communities and to the specificity of the schools where these children are learning. The financing of these programs from the central and local budgets represents the way to effectively reduce functional illiteracy and early school drop-out. This funding must be provided continuously, based on multi-annual mechanisms, mainly from the state budget, but with the possibility of attracting other budgetary and extra-budgetary funds.
The first stage of the advocacy campaign resulted in a series of debates organized with the teachers involved in the project, with the parents and with the members of the project implementation teams. The discussions, moderated by representatives of the Federation of Non-Governmental Organizations for Social Services (FONSS), focused on the campaign objectives, the existing legislative provisions and the pilot projects launched in public debate, the existing collaboration with the county and local public authorities in Alba and Covasna counties, respectively the role of each stakeholder category (parents, teachers, NGOs) within the advocacy campaign.