15 under 15: A project that invites companies to invest in Romania’s most important resource, its children

Creativity, CSR, Education

Smartree, strategic HR partner for companies in Romania, launches together with Teach for Romania, 15 under 15: a special magazine edition in which the stories of 15 children under 15 are presented. Under the legal age of employment in Romania, these children work, in various forms, in their communities to support their families.

Through the 15 under 15 project, Smartree supports the equal right to education of any child in Romania. Each of these 15 under 15 little champions, exponents of their communities, deserve access to modern educational solutions, quality education and motivated teachers, in order to achieve the most difficult thing: not to leave the education system before graduating.

“We believe it is our responsibility to also look to the future and invest in Romania’s most important resource: its people. In the current context of a major shortage of labor and skills in Romania, school dropout has serious consequences not only for the students who give up education, but also for the entire Romanian society. Tomorrow’s workforce needs quality education today and equal opportunities to succeed, regardless of their social background. Education is children’s chance for a good life, and we have a duty to give it to them.”Alexandra Peligrad, CEO of Smartree.

The school dropout rate in Romania remains one of the highest in the European Union, standing at 16% in 2022, according to data published by Eurostat. It is worrying that early school leaving rates have remained relatively constant over the last 10 years in all regions of Romania, and the average for the country is at a level almost double the assumed objective at EU level, below 9% by 2030. While 18 member countries have already managed to achieve this objective, Romania is progressing very slowly, reaching a reduction of approx. 1% in 10 years, from 17% to 16%.

The negative economic impact is significant and is manifested by the accelerated loss of human capital and the amplification of the staff shortage, the increase in unemployment and the degree of poverty and, therefore, the increase in social problems, the decrease in the quality of life and the standard of living in Romania.

“A generation totals approximately 175,000 students. In Romania, 400,000 children are in the situation of school dropouts – more than two generations who left their studies before reaching high school. They are young people with 8 grades or less, who will have a very hard time finding a well-paid job. Despite the efforts made so far, Romania is still the country with the most inequitable educational system, according to the European Commission. 1 out of 5 students from rural areas drop out of school and half of Romania’s children are at risk of poverty and social exclusion, with little chance of building a future. The mission of our organization is that through Teach for Romania teachers we succeed in bringing these children to school, to create a safe space for them, where they are motivated, encouraged, and come to school with pleasure”, said Iuliana Pielmuș, Executive Director, Teach for Romania.

Teach For Romania works with children from vulnerable backgrounds to reduce early school leaving through literacy programs and recovery of learning differences.

Launched 3 months before the deadline for submitting the annual profit tax return to ANAF, the 15 under 15 project is a call to the business environment in Romania to contribute to the future of the workforce. By a simple gesture of redirecting a percentage of 20% of a company’s profit tax, you can support Teach For Romania to train more valuable people as educators, teachers or professors and provide quality education to children who have the greatest need for it.

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