SEATTLE — Education in Romania has become more accessible since the end of communist rule, although citizens living in poverty still find it challenging to receive a proper education due to lack of funding and unequal opportunities. Missionaries and government programs have been implemented in recent years to help improve education in Romania.
Low Funding Makes Quality Education in Romania Difficult to Access
Romania has the lowest expenditure on education in the European Union, according to Romania-Insider. The country spent 8.6 percent of its funding on education in 2015, which is considered almost crisis levels of funding, compared to the EU at 10.3 percent.
Public education is provided for free in Romania, but a lot of families choose to send their children to private schools because of student underachievement in public schools and inadequate state funding. Schools in rural areas of the country do not provide adequate educational equipment and are not well staffed.
Since the fall of communism in Romania in 1989, an increase in the quantity and popularity of private schools led to improvements in education in Romania, but private schools can be costly for citizens living in poverty. They also usually have long waiting lists and can become overcrowded, which makes getting a proper education in Romania difficult for many.
Unequal Opportunities for Romanian Children
Romanian children suffer the most as a result of the unequal educational burden. The poverty rate for children in Romania is 46.8 percent, which is the highest of any country in the EU, according to Business Review. Seventy-seven percent of young adults aged 18-24 end their educational journey early.
Children living in these poverty conditions do not have access to enough money and school supplies to attend school. A lot of Romanian families do not think it is necessary for their children to complete their schooling because many elites in the country are uneducated, according to UNICEF.
There is a large gap between people living in urban and rural communities, which directly affects the way children receive an education in Romania. Approximately 13.5 percent of rural children between the ages of 7 and 14 were not enrolled in school in 2005. Schools in these rural areas are not up to standards; some lack health permits, running water and clean amenities. Some rural schools also have broken desks, a scarce amount of supplies and not enough money for transportation.
Girls find receiving an education in Romania even more difficult. Sixty-six percent of Romanian girls get married before the age of 18. Early marriages and pregnancies are the main reasons that girls drop out of school, according to UNICEF.
The Good News
In 2015, Romania started a project to help transition students to tertiary education, the Romania Secondary Education Project (ROSE). Its aim was to solve problems that were preventing students from receiving secondary education in Romania. ROSE provides academic and emotional support to students who are considering dropping out, such as tutoring, counseling and extracurricular activities.
Steve Hall, CEO of Empire Construction in Knoxville, TN, has been going on mission trips for years. Hall and his good friend traveled to Romania between 1999 and 2005, doing various medical missions, but also providing educational business courses to citizens living in poverty. Hall taught Romanian citizens living in extreme poverty basic entrepreneurship skills and business principles, such as business contracting, to help them run their ministries better. He told The Borgen Project that he wanted to teach these people how to work through things in more of a business sense.
“People in a lot of places, like countries in poverty, think business is not a part of ministry, but Christians are employing a lot of people. To save themselves and their ministry is a business, so I taught them the business side of things like how to run their ministries,” Hall said.
The work that Hall did helped bring hope to citizens by giving them a broader education. It taught them that education and business are important to all aspects of their lives.
– McKenzie Hamby