More than 46,000 children in Romania are dropping out of school early every year, according to a "Child Rights Now" Romania report released at a news conference on Wednesday.
The report is part of the global initiative "Child Rights Now!" designed to highlight worldwide progress with children's rights 30 years after the entry into force of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
The report on Romania was prepared by the member organisations of the global initiative: the Terre des hommes Foundation of Switzerland, Save the Children Romania, SOS Children's Villages Romania and World Vision Romania.
The discrepancies in school attendance rates among various age groups, as well as much weaker results of the indicators in the case of Romany children and a high school dropout rate in general are important reasons for concern over the respect of the right to education in Romania. In primary, secondary and high school, early school dropout concerns more than 46,000 children annually. Among those who remain in the formal education system the results of education are very poor, with only about 61% of 15-year-olds gaining basic knowledge of reading and understanding a text, as well as of mathematics, which places Romania third worst among the 28 EU member states, according to the report.
According to it, the rate of out-of-school school-age children is 6% in the entire population, but it reaches 22% in Roma children and 29% in children with disabilities. Children from low-income families are also at risk.
The report also shows that not all schools are a safe environment for the child. As many as 30% of schools in Romania and 62% in countryside have outhouses for toilets, while 3,892 schools do not have fire permits. At least 170 schools operate in buildings classified as at very high seismic risk.
Mainly in disadvantaged communities, children are exposed to the risk of sexual exploitation, human trafficking and exploitation of labour.
The report says many of the abuses take place with the active involvement of parents or caregivers; a much larger number of children are regularly subjected to family violence (being subjected to corporal punishment as a form of discipline), violence in school (conflicts with other children and bullying) and online violence.
Regarding family violence, there is a national survey according to which 61% of the children said they were disciplined by hitting or slapping at least once. Regarding violence in schools, a nationwide survey of secondary and high school children shows that one in three children were assaulted by another child, and one in six claimed to have been beaten by another child.
The report shows that, although Romanian cities have largely reached the standards of developed countries in terms of access to running water and sewerage services, rural areas have lagged behind most in most of terms. About 68% of the entire population of Romania is connected to public water supply services, but the access rate is 97% in urban areas and only 33.5% in rural areas. In terms of wastewater management, the difference is even more pronounced. Just over half of the population was connected to such services in 2017, 88% of which in cities and just 8.2% in the countryside.
In 2017, almost a third of Romania's children lived below the national poverty line, an indicator much like the relative poverty rate, or the at-risk-of-poverty rate in EU statistics, was 32.2% in children between 0 and 18 years old, as against 23.6% nationwide, according to the report.