facts about girls' education in RomaniaRomania is a country settled in east-central Europe bordering the Black Sea. The country has a rigid education program that falls short in some areas of girls’ education, particularly for Roma girls who come from a minority making up about 10 percent of Romania’s population. While improvements are being made to the overall education of the country, some pupils are more neglected than others. These six facts about girls’ education in Romania shed some light on the achievements and shortfalls of the Romanian education system and what is being done to further improve girls’ education.

6 Facts About Girls’ Education in Romania

  1. There are more girls in pre-primary schools than boys. As of 2016, 75.26 percent of Romanian girls were enrolled in pre-primary school—the equivalent of kindergarten—while only 74.52 percent of boys were enrolled.
  2. Female literacy rates are on the rise. In 1992, 94.98 percent of the Romanian female population older than 15 were literate. As of 2018, that percentage stood at 98.6.
  3. Half of the women in rural Romania don’t finish secondary school. Half of the female population living in rural areas of Romania don’t manage to finish secondary school according to Tatiana Proscuryakova, World Bank’s Country Manager for Romania and Hungary.
  4. Roma women often don’t have the same opportunities as other women in Romania. One of the largest minority groups in Romania is the Roma people. Roma girls are disproportionately impacted by poverty conditions and continue to face societal discrimination. On average, Roma girls leave school at age 10 so that they can contribute to the household in some way.
  5. Female unemployment rates are increasing. As of 2019, only 45.17 percent of Romanian women are part of the workforce. This number dropped from 62.31 percent in 1992 and is likely a direct result of the struggle among many women to complete a proper education. Without an education, many women find themselves without the skills necessary to make themselves a valuable member of the workforce.
  6. Save the Children is working to fix the gap in Roma girls’ education. The American nonprofit, known for its work in helping children around the world, launched a preparedness program in the summer of 2016 for children in Romania. The goal of this program is to help Roma children be better equipped for pre-primary school, both academically and socially.

Romania has an impressive literacy rate among both men and women but has seen a dramatic drop in the number of women in the workforce. Most Romanian women are able to receive an education, but Roma girls seem to be subject to a prejudiced struggle. While the number of girls in the workforce is declining, education is increasing and the hope of overall improvement of girls’ education and the consequent life opportunities is bright.

Amanda Gibson
Photo: Flickr


Girls’ Education in RomaniaAcross the globe young women often face the negative effects of gender discrimination on equal access to public education. This bias is often compounded by differences in ethnicity, social class, and physical and mental ability. Allowing these factors to affect a girl’s right to education is often cited as a primary cause of disadvantages throughout her lifetime, and can also have broad negative impacts on a country’s economy by limiting the contributions of a large percentage of the population. This is the case in Romania as the struggle of girls’ education in the country.

Inclusive Education in Romania

Inclusive education is defined as the right to equal access to quality education for all children, in a protective and open environment, regardless of one’s social and economic class, ability, or connection to an ethnic, cultural, or linguistic minority. Mag et al.’s work on inclusive education for the journal Materials Science, Engineering, and Chemistry, or MATEC, states that “inclusive education is a child’s right, not a privilege.” However, achieving this can be particularly difficult in a country with a recent economic crisis, such as Romania, where pressures to contribute to the family’s baseline needs at a young age can fall unequally on girls.

Girls’ education in Romania is often in jeopardy—particularly young women in rural areas—as they are often forced to drop out of school in order to better support their families within the household. In the primary school years, between the ages of seven and 10, only 85 percent of Romanian girls are enrolled in school. As they move from primary to secondary education, only 64 percent of the girls who had previously attended school make the transition compared to the 72 percent of boys who continue their education.

Effects of Limited Education

A lack of education from an early age creates a ripple effect felt throughout these young women’s lives. Many women are unable to complete the education required for even low-paying professional jobs, effectively holding them in a state of dependency throughout their lives, while also limiting their ability to contribute to the national economy. Only 65 percent of young women between the ages of 15 and 24 are literate in Romania, corresponding with a high 18.4 percent youth unemployment rate in 2017—nearly 10 percent above the U.S. youth unemployment rate.

International Organizations offer Assistance

Since the early 2000s, there has been a movement for greater equality in girls’ education in Romania. With the help of UNICEF, the country has created policies and programs to address the need for education reforms with a focus on gender. However, overarching policies, while effective in bringing change to the education system, do not necessarily target a child’s individual needs, or even the needs of a specific minority.

Education Priority Areas, or EPA, is a project focusing on disadvantaged communities in order to increase the communities’ youth’s access to quality and equal educational opportunities. EPA, created by UNICEF together with the Institute for Educational Sciences, a nonpartisan research branch of the United States Department of Education, has provided Romania with funds for schools and computers and has assisted in setting up programs both in and outside the classroom. These programs are designed to level the playing field for young women in need of additional support by achieving the education that is, indeed, the right of all children.

Improving opportunities for students can only be as effective as those providing the education are willing and able to make it. In addition to its work on education reform and assistance to the children themselves, UNICEF, in partnership with the Romanian Ministry of Education, created the National Programme for Education on Democratic Citizenship, a program dedicated to the rights of citizens’—particularly children’s—education. This program was launched in 2003, and was responsible for the inclusivity and inter-cultural approach training for nearly 300 educators within one year of the program’s conception, furthering the effort to create more opportunities concerning girls’ education in Romania.

As recently as 2011, there have been important advancements in the policy not only limited to girls’ education in Romania but focused on all children aged zero to three years old. A law which went into effect that year mandates an additional, transitional year of schooling, to be taught either at the kindergarten or primary education level. This is a particularly vulnerable time in a child’s development, a time where growth and adjustment are very closely linked to both family and socialization through preschool.

Romanian communities and many others throughout the world have been able to benefit from the work done by UNICEF and other organizations, providing students with the support necessary to build brighter futures, regardless of gender.

– Anna Lally
Photo: Flickr