BUCHAREST, Romania 24 May 2013 – This week, Romania’s Ministry of Education and UNICEF, in partnership with the Ministry of Labour, Family, Social Protection and Senior Citizens, the National Institute of Statistics and the Institute of Education Sciences have launched “All Children in School by 2015 – the Global Initiative on Out-of-School Children: Romania Country Study”. The report was developed as part of the global Out-of-School Children Initiative, an equity focused effort developed by UNICEF and the UNESCO Institute for Statistics aiming to reduce the number of out-of-school children, address disparities in access and attendance and achieve universal primary education by 2015.
A second chance
Damian is 15 years old. He dropped out of school when he was just nine and about to complete third grade. That period was rough for his family. His father had lost his job and his mother could barely make ends meet working as a cleaner. His parents would often argue and the children went to bed on an empty stomach. Tired, hungry and confused, Damian stopped going to school all together.
Things got worse when his parents divorced three years later. Unable to take care of four children, the parents decided to split them up: the youngest child stayed home with the mother while Damian and his two other siblings followed the father to the city of Santana in Arad County.
After struggling for a few months in the new city, Damian joined Second Chance, an education and housing centre that offers a better quality of life to young adults from disadvantaged groups in Romania. Here Damian is given a chance at catching up with his education in a safe and healthy living environment.
The rules at Second Chance are strict: only children who attend school are allowed to stay. But this is not the only reason why Damien rushes to school every morning. He wants to acquire the skills necessary to get a job and become financially independent. “I don’t turn up to lessons just because it’s obligatory. I want to learn so I can earn a living”, says Damian.
Yet, he is not sure of what the future holds for him. Damian doesn’t know how long he will attend this school or even if he will complete secondary school. At the moment, Damian’s aspirations of cultivating a professional life and career path seem like a distant dream. But he knows for sure that he will not give up his family. “Odd jobs will do me fine. When I need money, I’ll work. The rest of the time I want to be with my family. I want to go back to my mum as soon as I finish school”, says Damian.
At age fifteen, Damian has some hard choices to make. Should he stay at the Second Chance and pursue a much needed opportunity for a quality education or go back to his hometown to be with his mother?
For now, he spends most of his days at the school with other children like him who are trying to reconcile with the past and to build a future together.