Beneficiaries of international protection have the right to have access to all forms of education, under the same conditions as Romanian citizens. In order to have access to education, children beneficiaries of international protection need to have the minimum age provided by law for all children: 3 to 6 for pre-school education and 6 for primary education.
Enrolment at schools
The legal provisions regarding the Romanian language courses for children were detailed by the new amendment of the Integration Ordinance. Therefore, it is stated that, in order to integrate minors beneficiaries of international protection into the Romanian education system, they benefit from a preparatory course for learning the Romanian language, emphasising that the course is intensive and free of charge during a school year. It was also added that the enrolment is made throughout the calendar year, and the attendance of the course may continue during the following school year, as the case may be.
During the first year, children are enrolled at schools as viewers and listeners; they do not receive grades and are not registered in the class book. At the end of the preparatory course, the level of knowledge of Romanian language is assessed and an evaluation commission determines enrolment at school.
Bucharest (Region 1): IOM reported that families feel safer if the child attends Arabic schools. In this way, beneficiaries consider that there is no danger of children being removed from their tradition and culture. Another difficulty is the lack of diplomas from the country of origin, but also the fact that in some cases children have not attended school for long periods of time. Lastly, the enrolment forms are all in Romanian.
Giurgiu: JRS enrolled 5 children at school in 2019. Children attended school for 7 days, after which they refused to go to class because it was too challenging, they did not adjust and did not understand what was taught in class, they did not receive sufficient guidance from the teachers.
Galaţi: Children are enrolled at school from the moment they become asylum seekers. There are children enrolled at school in Constanta and Bacau. Also 2 children accommodated in the Regional Centre Galaţi are enrolled at school and attend the classes.
Timișoara: The Aidrom representative reported that she is not aware if younger children are still enrolled by their parents, even when they are still in the asylum procedure, at the Arab School in Timișoara, as it was reported in the previous years. The Arab School is a private school, which has functioned for over 7 years. Teaching takes place in Arabic, Romanian and English. If they have the financial means to afford the fee of around €100 per month, they prefer to enrol their children in this school as the cultural impact is not so high and it is considered a more appropriate way of cultural integration for their children. Only after one year children are enrolled at the state school. Children aged 15-16 are enrolled at the state school. According to the AIDRom representative, a request for enrolment was submitted one week before the author’s visit in the centre; they received an answer within 2-3 weeks, but the child did not attend the classes at all as they were planning to leave the country.
Rădăuţi: Children are enrolled at school during the asylum procedure. It was noticed that in 2019 children attended the classes. There are 2 children beneficiaries of international protection who are attending the school.
Galaţi: No difficulties were reported in 2019. The most common reason why children do not go to school is that the family intends to leave the country. However, this only happens with children accommodated in the Regional Centre, as for those who arrived under the reunification procedure or those living in other cities, they attend school.
Şomcuta Mare: According to the ASSOC, there were no obstacles faced for the enrolment of children at school. There are no preparatory classes. Children are observers for the first year; afterwards a commission evaluates to decide in which grade they should be enrolled. According to the JRS representative, 2 children from Iraq were enrolled at school at the time of the author’s interview. It was also reported that during the year there were more children enrolled, but they left the centre.
As regards children with special needs, the conditions for accessing education are the same as for Romanian children. The child should first be issued a degree of disability by the Complex Assessment Service of the Child with Disabilities within the Directorate-General for Social Assistance and Child Protection (DGASPC). This is a particularly complicated and bureaucratic process, which has to be repeated every year.
Based on the evaluation, the Complex Assessment Service of the Child with Disabilities also decides if the child should be enrolled in a school for children with special needs or in a state school, and at what grade.
In Timișoara the same rules apply for beneficiaries of international protection as for Romanian citizens. In the case of a girl with disabilities, the case was referred to other NGOs and public authorities dealing with disabled minors. There were no problems regarding their integration, as the mother of the girl is employed as a personal assistant of the girl, and she is paid according to the law applicable to Romanian citizens. The only difficulties faced by the family are the language barrier and bureaucracy, the mother’s employment and the issue of the disability certificate. Without proper support and assistance in this process, the family of the girl would not have managed. No cases reported in 2019.
IOM reported that in 2019 they did not receive any requests for enrolment of children with disabilities.
In Somcuta Mare, the ASSOC representative reported a case, for which the diagnostic procedure was ceased because the minor and its family left the centre.
Beneficiaries of international protection that have reached the age of 18 encounter the same problems in accessing vocational training or education, regardless their age, according to the AIDRom representative. The language is an impediment. If they do not have diplomas, they have to be examined for all subjects from the first to twelfth grade, or if they cannot certify the years of study, they have to repeat those school years in Romania following the Romanian curricula. There are very few youngsters that have chosen this path, even though professors were understanding and helpful. Another reported situation is that of youngsters that went to an Arabic school and after one year transfer to public schools. IOM also pointed out the lack of diplomas and language barriers as an obstacle or the fact that certain beneficiaries are illiterate and / or do not have the appropriate level of education (for example for enrolling at certain courses it is necessary to finalise primary education (4 years of schooling). ASSOC, on the other hand, specified that along with the language barrier, in some cases there is also a lack of determination.
The new amendments of the Integration Ordinance stipulate that IGI-DAI, in collaboration with the authorities of the local public administration, organizes sessions of cultural accommodation and counselling activities, aiming to familiarize the adult beneficiaries of international protection with the traditions, customs, legislation and specifics of the Romanian society. The previous provision stipulated that IGI organizes these activities and may collaborate with public authorities and NGOs. IGI and the local public administration authorities may collaborate with other public institutions and non-governmental organizations in order to organize these activities.
Adult beneficiaries of international protection benefit from intensive and free of charge Romanian language courses, organized by the specialized structures of the Ministry of National Education, in collaboration with IGI. Enrolment is made throughout the calendar year, and the attendance of the course may continue throughout the following school year. IGI-DAI, in collaboration with the NGOs provides the necessary spaces for organizing the courses. The Ministry of Education appoints a qualified person to teach the Romanian language course for adults and minors and it also ensures adequate training for these teachers. The Ministry of Education establishes the organisation, duration and schedule of these courses. At the end of the preparatory course, a commission issues a certificate that demonstrates the level of knowledge of the Romanian language.
For unaccompanied minors who are beneficiaries of international protection, IGI-DAI collaborates with DGASPC and NGOs representatives. They establish the integration plan for the children and implement the activities included in the plan.
In practice, some deficiencies in Romanian courses are reported in Timișoara and Rădăuţi. Participants are not grouped based on their age – children and adults are in the same class – or on their level of education, meaning that illiterate persons and persons with higher education are grouped together. In Timișoara they are grouped in advanced and beginner groups. The classes are held only twice a week, from 5-6pm for advanced learners and from 3-5pm for beginners. There is only one teacher in Timișoara for all beneficiaries.
Rădăuţi: As of September 2019, beneficiaries were grouped based on their age, but they are not grouped on their level of education or level of Romanian language knowledge. The classes are held on Monday and Thursday for children and on Wednesday for adults. During the summer break the Romanian language course is not held. On the other hand, ICAR Foundation is also organising Romanian language courses. These courses are framed on the needs, level of education and knowledge of Romanian language of the beneficiaries. Before starting the course, beneficiaries have to take a test.
Another stakeholder reported that as regards the Romanian classes organised by the Ministry of Education, beneficiaries are not grouped based on their age; they are all in the same class, advanced or beginners. It was also reported that the professor does not explain well enough and some of the beneficiaries are not attending the course anymore, which can affect their integration programme, because they need to have 80% attendance at this course. It was also mentioned that all beneficiaries are attending ICAR Foundation’s classes because the professor does her best to explain the class material.
Şomcuta Mare: The Romanian language courses are held three times a week in the Regional Centre with beneficiaries of international protection and asylum seekers. In addition, ASSOC also organises language courses according to JRS representative. ASSOC representative reported that the person appointed by the Ministry of Education may provide information on the integration courses.
In Timișoara, it was reported that there is goodwill by the teacher, but there seems to be a lack of support at the national level. The lack of efficiency was emphasised by the AIDRom representative who stated that in case a new beneficiary starts participating in Romanian language classes the whole group of beginners will have to repeat all the introductory courses. There were 10 beneficiaries of international protection registered in the integration programme and also third-country nationals participating in the Romanian language classes. AIDRom also organises Romanian language classes in the same way as ICAR Foundation.
The AIDRom representative in Timișoara deems that beneficiaries should benefit from proper measures which will give them the opportunity to learn Romanian extensively in the first 3 months. Language courses should be daily and intensive. In reality, beneficiaries are concerned about sustaining their families or themselves and pay for rent. As a result, they focus on employment and they have less or no time at all to attend Romanian classes.
In Bucharest, the courses take place at School no. 145 three times a week. Courses are held by a teacher designated by the School Inspectorate. Beneficiaries are not divided based on their age. One of the problems identified is that the structure of the course is strictly related to the school year calendar; so if a beneficiary starts the course in January, he or she will go to the lesson at which the group is at that time, even if he or she does not have any knowledge of Romanian language. In addition, these classes do not provide support materials for the beneficiaries.
According to JRS representative, the Romanian language classes are organized separately for adults and children and it was reported that there is a lack of teachers and lack of interest of teachers.
According to the director and the integration officer of Bucharest Centre Stolnicu, there is only one teacher of Romanian language in Bucharest; the courses are held twice a week for 2 hours and the beneficiaries are divided based on their age. In 2018 they were no longer divided based on their knowledge. Children beneficiaries of international protection have separate classes.
In Galaţi, beneficiaries are grouped based on their age, but when the number of beneficiaries attending the class is low, they are not grouped into age categories. There are 2 teachers, 1 for the children and the other for the adults. The classes are held twice a week for 2 hours. JRS is also organising Romanian language courses every weekday in Constanta and Galaţi.
In 2019 it was reported that a beneficiary of international protection living in Piatra Neamt has not benefitted from the integration programme because no Romanian language courses were organised in the county.
In Giurgiu, the legal counsellor was unable to provide information on the Romanian classes organised by the Ministry of Education, because the only Romanian classes organised in the centre are the ones held by the NGOs. She also mentioned that the last time ISJ organised Romanian classes in the centre was three years ago.
IOM Romania, in partnership with the Intercultural Institute in Timișoara and the Schottener Social Services Foundation, implemented between July 2017 and January 2019 the project “REACT_RO: educational resources for learning Romanian language and cultural accommodation of beneficiaries of International Protection (BPI) and Third-Country Nationals (RTT) in Romania”. The project aimed at contributing to the development of a coherent package of educational resources for learning Romanian as a foreign language and orientation in society that takes into account the needs of beneficiaries of international protection and third-country nationals in Romania.
 Article 20(1)(h) Asylum Act.
 Article 10(1) Integration Ordinance.
 Article 10(2) Integration Ordinance. During the preparatory course children beneficiaries of international protection participate free of charge in pedagogical activities within the school units, without their presence being registered in official documents.
 Article 10(3) Integration Ordinance
 Information provided by IOM Romania, 21 January 2019.
 Information provided by ASSOC, 5March 2020.
 For the highly onerous administrative requirements to be met for this process according to Common Order No 1985/1305/5805/2016, see DGASPC, Necessary documents for the complex assessment of the child’s disability, available in Romanian at: http://bit.ly/2hK8T0r.
 Information provided by IOM, 18 November 2019.
 Information provided by ASSOC, 5 March 2020.
 Article 13(1) Integration Ordinance.
 Article 13(2) Integration Ordinance.
 Article 14(1) Integration Ordinance.
 Article 14(2) Integration Ordinance.
 Article 14(3) Integration Ordinance.
 Article 14(4) Integration Ordinance.
 Article 14(5) Integration Ordinance.
 Article 35(3) Integration Ordinance.
 Information provided by ASSOC, 5 March 2020.
 Information provided by IOM Romania, 21 January 2019.