Gabriela has saved 3 lei ($0,70) for a doll. In the next two months, she aims to save another 97 lei ($22) so that she will have the right amount of money to buy the toy she's been wanting for a very long time.
Gabriela developed this plan at the financial education workshop in the Community Center of Carani, Romania. Other children, other wishes: A phone, books, a Barbie doll, a real horse... In this workshop children write down their object of desire on a piece of paper. They then draw it and write why do they want it: "to play", or "because it helps me at school" are some of the most common reasons. They write down the price of the item and estimate how many weeks will it take them to raise the amount they need, after assessing the savings they already have. The children find this a very exciting activity and they are all eager to talk about their plan and motivation.
The community center in Carani runs "Education, the Center for Change in the Community", one of the main education programs of United Way Romania, funded by the Globalworth Foundation. The goal of this program is to prevent school dropout in impoverished urban and rural communities, where the priority for many families is not the education of children, but to deal with the daily struggle of finding the resources necessary for survival. By attending these community centers, children take part in non-formal activities every week, receive a warm meal and have access to materials that support them in their education.
However, the program not only supports children directly, but looks at the issue of school dropout in Romania through a holistic lens and it intregrates key actors such as parents, teachers or non-governmental associations, to work together to solve the problem of early school leaving.
One of the vital pillars of this program is the "Parents' Academy": Under the motto “Involved parents, confident children”, parents join discussions and activities that focus on positive and effective communication with children and fulfilling childrens’ needs. Teachers also participate in workshops and reading clubs, through which they receive additional tools to work with children coming from disadvantaged families.
The program "Education, the Center of Change in the Community " currently runs on 12 day centers, which operate as community hubs. The program was first implemented 5 years ago, and since then, 2,700 children, 2,160 parents and 540 teachers have taken part in the program, contributing to fight school dropout in their local communities.