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Kindergartens (grădiniță) in Romania, especially in rural areas, have been sadly characterized by a dearth of age-appropriate books and educational materials for preschoolers. (The rationale seems to be: If they can’t read, why do they need books?) OvidiuRo is now engaged in its 5-year plan to turn Romania’s 4500 public kindergartens into, instead, seedbeds of literacy: “Citește-mi 100 de povești!” (Read Me 100 Stories). In partnership with both the Romanian Ministry of Education and Ministry of Culture, as well as with county school inspectorates across Romania, OvidiuRo mobilizes public and private resources to offer teacher training and quality teaching tools to ensure that public preschools have plenty of age-appropriate books designed to expand young children’s vocabulary and improve their language skills.
Despite the unprecedented challenges of educating children – especially disadvantaged children – during the pandemic, OvidiuRo made great strides in 2020 and 2021 toward its goal by transforming its teacher training workshops into online seminars. During the 2020-21 school year, 2100 kindergarten teachers in 1200 kindergartens participated in online sessions, many of whom “paid it forward” by subsequently conducting trainings for their fellow teachers. Ultimately 85,000 books reached 54,000 children. In the first quarter of 2022, 1000 additional kindergartens (involving over 100,000 children and 7400 teachers) have become active in “Citește-mi 100 de povești!” and the program was offered for the first time in schools teaching pupils with disabilities. It is expected that by the end of the year, 177,000 children will be in kindergartens that have been “certified” by OvidiuRo (equipped with books supplied by OvidiuRo, many of them translated and printed explicitly for this program, and taught by teachers trained to use them effectively).
Most recently, as a result of OvidiuRo’s initiative, on February 15, 2022 the Ministry of Education celebrated National Reading Day, during which, for the first time, every school in Romania was required to organize reading sessions.
Since its inception in 2004, OvidiuRo has worked to make early education available and effective for all children. Its programs and advocacy have led to major advancements in the national preschool curriculum and to better classroom resources, as well as greater appreciation of the importance of early education and teaching the fundamentals of literacy. OvidiuRo’s Fiecare Copil în Grădiniță incentive ultimately gave rise to the passage of the “Preschool Law” (No. 248/2015), which was revised in 2020: parents living in poverty can receive the equivalent of $22 per month in good coupons, allocated by the Romanian government, if their child attends preschool every day.