Cristina Bucur, “FDP-Protagonists in Education” Association in the AUGUST INTERVIEW: “In Ludesti, the children’s progress is supported by teacher, families and the community!”
As part of our MONTHLY INTERVIEW rubric we decided to talk with the people involved in the project we finance and who have interesting things to tell us about what they aim to achieve with the support of the SEE& Norwegian Grants. In August we had a talk with Cristiana Bucur, coordinator of the “Impact Ludesti” project, undertaken by FDP-Protagonists in Education, who we thank for her kindness in answering our questions and we wish luck in implementing the project.
FRDS: For those who don’t know you, please tell us a few words about your organization and the way the “Impact Ludesti” project came about, financed through the Local Development Programme?
Cristiana Bucur: FDP- Protagonists in Education aims to prevent school abandonment among children who come from disadvantaged environments. We try to address the needs and wants of children at risk of school abandonment through remedial and non-formal activities for them, as well as counseling and information for their parents. Furthermore, FDP also targets children with special educational needs, with its activities.
The “Impact Ludesti” project was born after an analysis of Ludesti, Dambovita county. As a series of needs was identified in the Roma community there, we and our partner, the local authority in Ludesti, we wanted to be the ones to try and improve the situation of this community. And we are likely to, as part of the project team are people who know the community, its needs and capabilities. We are sure that our intervention, which is something new in the village, as there have been no other projects with non-reimbursable funds, will inspire and serve as an example of good practice and encourage the community and local authority to develop new projects.
FRDS: In what way does your project contribute to the process of inclusion of the Roma people in Dambovita county?
Cristiana Bucur: In order to better the social inclusion of Roma people in Ludesti we use integrated services that aim to improve education, health, employment and empowerment. We also support the improvement of living conditions for Roma people. The partnership we established through the project between teachers, parents, students, public institutions and the community that helps us focus on Roma children and young people. Training teachers in the project, familiarizing them with tools and methods of working with students at risk of school abandonment will contribute to attitude change among students, as well as parents.
FRDS: What are the categories of people in the Roma community targeted by the activities in this project? What sort of challenges does this intervention bring and how does your approach answer them?
Cristiana Bucur: Each activity in the project brings different challenges for the implementation team. All categories of beneficiaries in our project, namely children, young people, adults, Roma experts come to us with their problems and with a great willingness to participate, communicate and with the hope that this project will better their lives, their children’s education and their integration in society and in the job market.
Our approach is to bring trust that things can change for the better and we often have to reinvent ourselves. For example, for the remedial and non-formal activities, we had a different approach from that in the classroom, managing this way to keep children engaged. Moreover, this approach gave them the confidence to get involved in activities along with their teachers.
FRDS: How do the educational services aimed at children in Ludesti take place? How are the children supported?
Cristiana Bucur: The remedial and non-formal education activity targets a number of 200 children and takes place in the spaces offered by our 3 partner schools. The children are supported in doing their homework, learning through play and exploration as a method of teaching, having access to educational materials, educational games, computers, interactive boards purchased through the project. The children receive daily warm meals during project hours, as well as stationary items, backpacks and clothing for the beginning of school. Children at risk of not passing to the next year, as well as those who skipped classes, were helped. The fact that they have a daily warm meal made a big difference.
The remedial and non-formal education activity will continue, as part of the project, until December 2023.
FRDS: How is the relationship with the children’s parents? What have you done through this project to consolidate this relationship and what were the results?
Cristiana Bucur: Through the “School for Parents” activity, that is part of the project, we prioritize maintaining a permanent student-parent-teacher-implementation team permanent connection, as well as offering parents services aimed at health, education, developing parental abilities.
The meetings take place monthly with a group of 12 parents and take the form of a dialogue between the parents and a specialist to understand the children’s needs and to convey the need of parent involvement in identifying and meeting their needs. The first meetings were with the parents of children who had issues at school due to absences, low grades and inappropriate behavior.
In the last two years, since school has mainly taken place online, the responsibility of parents over the children’s education has grown significantly. Unfortunately, many were overwhelmed by the situation. The parents of children who did not have access to tablets, computers or a stable internet connection became teachers, regardless of their level of education. Through developing competences, abilities and self-esteem among parents, the children’s progress is accompanied by the progress of the entire family.
Even though the activity started on 01.05.2022, we analyzed the results of the children who took the 8th grade exam together with the partner schools and we found that the results were satisfactory.
FRDS: In what way do you support the Roma young people in the community through this project?
Cristiana Bucur: The “Employment services” activity, which is aimed at a number of 120 Roma young people, began in July 2022 and is in the stage where young people’s professional interests are evaluated through the Holland test. The young people have access to counseling, information regarding the socio-economic situation at a local and regional level, the job market and its evolution. These young people will be involved in professional training courses and will be able to obtain a certificate at the end of the course.
On the 25th of July, we organized a Job Fair, where local traditional craftspeople presented their products and 25 young people were introduced to the art of Romanian crafts, which are in danger of disappearing (weaving baskets, creating wooden spoons, pitchforks, cauldrons and bricks used in house building).
FRDS: What are the main results of the project so far? Could you describe, in short, a particular case that has stuck in your mind?
Cristiana Bucur: We are happy to see the children’s enthusiasm for the activities they are participating in, their achievements in subjects where they received extra help, higher grades on the National Evaluation Exam, the high degree of parent involvement in the workgroups that make up the “School for Parents” and the gratitude of the people who are facing difficult situations and received aid in solving issues regarding social benefits, namely filling out documentation to obtain social benefits.
We want to meet all of our proposed goals, which means preventing school abandonment and failure by offering extra preparation time for at least 200 children from Ludesti, integrating at least 120 young people on the employment market and raising the ability of the Roma community in Ludesti to organize itself and act in its own best interest by training 15 Roma experts. It is just as important to manage to raise the satisfaction degree of our beneficiaries and the Ludesti community, regarding educational and social inclusion.