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“Education Plus” – a new model of inclusion for children coming from vulnerable backgrounds in Moldova

“Education Plus” – a new model of inclusion for children coming from vulnerable backgrounds in Moldova

October 30, 2018 Chisinau, Moldova. “Education Plus – a new educational inclusion model” was made public at a conference that brought together representatives of civil society, international experts, teachers and parents, representatives of local and central public administrations, State Chancellery of Moldova and donor community.

The Education Plus model was forged within a pilot project implemented from 2011 to 2018 in the village of Zirnesti, Cahul district, and the village of Gribova, Drochia district, by the Institute for Rural Initiatives (IRI) and local partners in partnership with the Liechtenstein Development Services Foundation (LED) in Moldova.

The method of inclusion via educational vouchers, the key element of assistance in the model, was successfully tested within the frame of the project. The project’s educational vouchers were equaled into homework facilitation classes, school supplies as well as food tickets which vulnerable kids could use at the school cafeteria.

For the last 6.5 years the project continuously facilitated formal and non-formal educational processes in the selected schools and kindergartens with a purpose to better integrate Roma and non-Roma children in school while motivating educational institutions to become more open and prepared to cope with standards of modern inclusive education. Simultaneously, the project had an element of institutional support and a robust component of capacity building for teachers and school managers from the two schools and two kindergartens involved in the project.

The project also provided other non-formal education services, such as the Democracy School club, exchange visits, and opportunities for children to implement mini-grants in their communities.

As a result of the project, the academic performance of the beneficiaries increased, the educational gap between Roma and non-Roma children decreased, while the drop-out and school absenteeism rates were practically cut in half. The children in schools became motivated for a more friendly interaction. A dialogue platform between children, parents and teachers was created which lead to increased levels of trust and interaction.

“It was a long journey and a very good experience… The biggest challenge, now is to go from the project to a policy, to a change in the system. We learned a very good lesson, when children have a well-targeted assistance, then there are good results,” said Pius Frick, director of the Liechtenstein Development Services Foundation (LED) in Moldova, in his opening speech.

“The main objective of this project was to support inclusive education in rural vulnerable communities from Moldova with a special, though not exclusive, emphasis on the inclusive education of Roma children as some of the most excluded groups in Moldova. The intention of the project was to test an alternative model of inclusion of Roma children, which now – we believe – can be replicated by both non-governmental organizations, donors and especially by state authorities,” said Ruslan Stanga, executive director IRI.

At the event, participants had the opportunity to become more familiar with the new approach of integrating Roma children into school, including statistics and testimonials of project beneficiaries.

“Education Plus” model during 6.5 years provided assistance to a number of 155 children and 49 teachers from 2 schools and 2 kindergartens. A significant evidence-based progress was noted both in terms of beneficiaries’ personal dynamics in the project and also in respect to the period before the project.

For more details on the “Education Plus” model (statistics, qualitative data, materials, etc.) please, contact IRI team: office@iri.md

More photos from the event can be found on the Facebook page of the Institute for Rural Initiatives: