From challenge to solution

Challenges of education in rural areas

Early school dropping rates in Romania remain among the highest in Europe, with 16.4% in 2018 [Eurostat 2019], and a significantly higher rate in rural areas (25%) [European Commission, Education and training monitor 2019 Romania report]

What does that mean?

Almost one quarter of each generation of pupils in rural areas is lost by the end of middle school. Some schools start with 8 full-capacity classes in first grade and end up with one eight-grade class and a lot of empty seats. Approximately 300,000 school-age children do not go to school. Moreover, almost half of Romania’s children are at risk of poverty and social exclusion, with low chances to build a future.

To approach these problems, civil society organisations are constantly mobilising to cover the needs of school-aged children in disadvantaged areas and facilitate their access to education. However, the capacities of these organisations are often low; interventions are punctual, and the causes of these numbers are not only related to the lack of motivation or poor promotion of education, but to complex socioeconomic contexts that have to do, on one hand, with poverty, education being discouraged in the family culture, lack of solid school structures to provide education for children in rural areas, and on the other hand, with the need to develop and strengthen the capacities of NGOs to attract more funds, qualified and dedicated human resources, and a sustainable organisational management.

In 2020, in a study conducted on the development needs in NGOs, the World Bank identified the following:

Needs Related To Additional Training In Fund Raising

Development Of National And International Partnerships

Resource Management

Management Of Organisational Culture

Public Image Management

The same study shows that, because of the health crisis over the past two years, 73% of the respondent organisations expect to operate with lower budgets compared to the previous years.

Our intervention

Starting from this study, Teach for Romania conducted a semi-structured needs analysis on 11 organisations that operate or operated projects in the counties of Călărași, Brașov, Iași, Ilfov, Vaslui and provide services facilitating the access to education for children coming from disadvantages environments, in order to understand their particular traits.

Thus, the following needs for development were identified:


Attracting funds:

  • public funds (91%)
  • private companies (82%)
  • natural persons (91%)


Organisational management, namely:

  • operational planning of activities and resources, for a period of 6-12 months (82%)
  • strategic planning, for a period of 3-5 years (73%)


Measuring and monitoring the impact on beneficiaries (82%)


Development of relationships and partnerships with local public institutions (64%).

The unstructured part of our analysis identified a number of other obstacles and needs, such as:

  • lack of constant, dedicated human resources specialising in specific fields;
  • lack of relationships with the local public authorities, and scepticism in interacting with them;
  • a tendency not to get in touch and offer their services in parallel with what the authorities are offering / should do.

Thus, through this project, our intent is to improve the capacity of small and medium-sized NGOs to develop and carry out sustainable interventions supporting the observance of the right to education for children in the disadvantaged communities in the counties of Brașov, Călărași, Ilfov, Vaslui and Iași. Specifically, for 2 years, we will support the development of 20 small and medium-sized NGOs of these counties, through adapted interventions following a needs analysis, and we will help them increase their capacities for fund-raising, organisational management, and management of relationships with public authorities, by providing training, coaching and mentoring.

Education also depends on factors outside the school, and if we want an NGO sector that is powerful and efficient, we need to invest in organisations and in people.