We have just launched, in a small village from Transylvania (Romania), a new project focused on supporting education for exceptionally gifted children coming from poor communities. Our aim with this project is not just to keep kids in school and off the streets, but to reward and motivate them and their parents to aim farther and higher when it
comes to education.
We wish to tackle those objective limitations which usually hinder, at an early stage, a child’s academic path and personal development, by creating premises that would allow for a wider range of specializations and professions.
Now you may think: why Romania? Isn’t it in the European Union? Well, it is, but it’s still lagging far behind the EU average when it comes to poverty and equal opportunities for the most disadvantaged communities – especially in rural areas, where almost half (44%) of the population lives. The country’s poor are usually subsistence farmers, unskilled workers and women who are sole providers for large families. In remote areas, infrastructure and social services still leave a lot to be desired.
Those affected the most are children, especially in their first 8 years of school. Under normal circumstances, a thorough education would allow them to get out of their original environment and build a career that would improve their standard of life. In reality, due to their parents’ very limited financial resources once they are done with primary school they stop and don’t go further to high school, which is sometimes way out of reach – tens of miles away and tens of thousands in money they don’t have. Attending high-school would mean costs that their parents simply cannot afford without extreme sacrifices - let alone going to college…
That is exactly why Together has decided to start this scholarship project. The modus operandi of the project is to identify kids in primary school (9 – 14 year old) who present exceptional talents (math, drawing, music, sports etc.) and who, in spite of their background, manage to achieve very good academic results.
Our primary focus will be on kids coming from very poor or low-income families. We would provide a monthly scholarship based on the following indicators: 1) school attendance; 2) a minimum monthly average score; 3) impeccable discipline; 4) pursuance of the respective exceptional skill/talent; and 5) active participation in community activities.
The scholarship would be suspended if one or more of the criteria above were not observed. The program would resume the following month, if results improve. If the performance takes on a descending trend for more than two consecutive months, the respective scholarship would be cancelled without prejudice. In this way, we create a set of positive incentives that would motivate the child to keep a consistent standard of commitment, while equally motivating the parents to better encourage and support the academic performance of their children.
Our first young beneficiary is Alex, a 13 year old remarkably gifted kid from Cristian, a small village near Sibiu, in Transylvania. He is in 6th grade and he has the best academic results in the whole school – only straight A-s so far… He has a special talent for acting – he received high praises for his complex performances in school plays. Also, he is very involved in the life of his community, doing voluntary service for the local parish.
This is just the beginning, as we will continue to look for other exceptional boys and girls who could use some extra help to follow their dreams. We believe that access to quality education should be a fundamental right, while its absence being among the root-causes of protracted poverty and social disconnect.
We strongly believe that real change should start from the earliest age, by giving our children the chance to reach their true potential, in dignified conditions and safe environments.