In Romania, disadvantaged communities face a significant lack of well-prepared teachers to successfully tackle the multiple challenges related to ethnic and discrimination segregation, basic and functional illiteracy, domestic violence, and bullying. Too often, teacher shortage is covered by individuals who are not fully qualified, and the lack of skills is addressed with courses that are not aligned with teachers’ needs. The teacher crisis is also magnified by the aging process in Romania, where less than 1 out of 10 teachers are under 30 years old. In addition, there is a mismatch between teacher competences and the demands for their role, in light of the recent social crises faced during the pandemic and the Ukraine War. As a result, there is a increasing trend of novice teachers dropping out their positions.
In light of this reality, Teach For Romania, alongside the working group on “Careers in education” from One Voice alliance, built a proposal around the teacher role and its need to increase initial and continuous training. Based on the OECD recommendations and the strategic directions from the presidential program “Educated Romania”, the proposal was discussed will several high-level stakeholders in education, including Education committees from Deputies Chamber and the Senate, representatives of all parties from the Parliament, teachers and students associations, unions, universities and business ecosystems and foundations and NGOs.
The proposal was then brought to the Ministry of Education of Romania and the Prime Minister, to be integrated in the new bill of education. Teach For Romania feels positive that the proposal was well received, and some of the suggestions were included in the draft bill, which is currently under public debate. If positive, Teach for Romania is committed to use NEST project results as arguments to define a consolidated opinion to support the new legislation.
Among the proposals for the new education bill, Teach For Romania also included its position on the relevance of integrating and maintaining high standards in education by introducing relevant initial training for any career in education. Demands include to double or triple specialization and to increase in the share of teaching practice to a minimum of 50%, which would ideally take place in schools with different backgrounds, including schools from disadvantaged areas.
Another demand is to include a support package for novice teachers, following the experts’ recommendations for Romania:
“Even though future teachers benefit during their initial training of practical experience, this is not always enough in order to gain the necessary competencies in order to succeed in this domain. In this process, future teachers do not benefit from mentorship or any form of individual guidance (coaching), which limits the competencies they can achieve”. Systematic approach for better results in education (SABER–Teachers), 2017, led by the World Bank)
Teach For Romania has managed to draw attention to the fact that the need for support, guidance and supervision is critical in schools in disadvantaged areas, considering that new teachers have to face even more difficult challenges, such as high abandonment rate, a lack of financial means at the level of families, absence of medical services, community violence, ethnical segregation, lack of equipment and means needs in order to support the teaching process, etc.
But Teach For Romania’s work towards changing the educational system is not a standalone effort. The European Commission has recently published a proposal for a Council Recommendation on ‘Pathways to School Success’, aiming to enhance the inclusive dimension of education in all Member States. In this context, NEST has the power to support this purpose by providing substantial evidence that adaptive mentoring can be an effective solution to support teachers working in disadvantaged contexts, going one step further to ensure that all children have the opportunity to fulfill their potential.