Teach for Romania is a program with transformational impact in the Romanian educational system. An ONG (Non-Governmental Organization) if we speak in Romanian terms. It is part of the international program Teach for All, and Romania is the 33rd country in the network, which already has more than 46 states.
Teach for Romania was founded in 2013 by Ionut Soleanicov. There was another tentative of Teach for Romania initiation in 2011 started by Bogdan Georgescu, the founder of Bookster, but it didn’t pass from the minister.
Ionut Soleanicov left in the USA when he was six, and returned to Romania when he was 30, in 2012. After a year and a half spent at McKinsey Consultancy Company, he realized that he wanted to make something with an impact in Romania. In 2013, he went at a wedding in Sofia – Bulgaria where he met Evgenia Peeva, the founder of “Teach for Bulgaria”, founded in 2011. After he left Sofia, he decided to try to bring the concept to Romania. And he did it. The recruiting of the team started in august 2013, and in May 2014 it was complete.
How does it work? Well they look for talented young people and they prepare them for two years into training programs and support. Each future teacher has a mentor which guides him into the program. During mentoring period, the teachers go to a disadvantaged community and, for six weeks, they teach to children having more or less the same destiny as the ones of the children they will teach.
Aura Stan, recruiting director at “Teach for Romania”, says that the vision of the organization and the program aims not only the remediation of the school results and elimination of school abandonment, but also implication in changing the legislation, where it fails, and implication into the community.
The first year in which Teach for Romania trained teachers was 2014-2015. Of the over 450 teachers who applied, only 18 were selected. For the years 2015-2016, there were 25. Out of the teachers in the first series (2014-2015), 14 chose to stay in the system, so the total number of Teach for Romania teachers reached 39.
In the first year, the 18 teachers directly influenced the destinies of over 2,600 children.
Today, more than 65 teachers are active in the school desk, in over 60 schools in Brasov, Bucharest, Calarasi, Constanta, Galati, Ialomita, Ilfov, Prahova, Teleorman, Tulcea, Vrancea and Olt.
“I firmly believe that nothing can be more challenging than making a change in your life. Before making this huge step (enter into the program), I was living a bohemian life that seemed to have stopped and refusing to hurry to achieve something. The days flowed without a precise purpose. I did not have a vision. After I got into the program, after a semester in school, I started to understand in depth and to realize how different and special the children are. I realize that I am completely responsible for their future and that I can give everything that is best of me for them, assuming my model role.” – Andrei Papadache, alumnus Teach for Romania.
They plan that until 2020 to conquer the entire Romania with their courses. Well, we can only hope that they will succeed, as there is a great need for education in many areas of Romania (96% of the children born in the countryside don’t have the chance to have universitary studies).