The Ministry of Education proposes to reduce some indicators from the PNRR, because the real need is lower than the estimated one. Thus, there will be reductions in the number of computer labs, but also in complementary early education services. In addition, there will be changes to the means of transport for students, as vehicles with more than 8 seats have been estimated, the town halls asking for at least cars with 16 seats. Also, the ministry conveys that the National Council of Rectors cannot receive funding, as it does not have public utility status.
The Ministry of Education sent, on Monday, clarifications regarding the changes made to some targets and benchmarks from the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (PNRR), “Component 15. Education”, according to News.ro.
“As part of the renegotiation of some targets/milestones from PNRR with the European Commission, the Ministry of Education proposed changes related to the real need in the territory, based on recent needs analyses, which, at the time of submitting the National Recovery and Resilience Plan, were only estimated based on the existing data in the SIIIR”, the Ministry of Education sent, on Monday, in a press release.
According to the cited document, the adjustments proposed by the Ministry of Education can be classified into two categories:
Correcting some errors of the material error type (e.g.: translations from English or legislative coherence), adjusting some terms in accordance with the measures of the new education laws (e.g.: governance reform following the entry into force of the legislative provisions of the Education Law pre-university, promulgated on July 4, 2023), the development of the online assessment platform of students’ skills in accordance with the new deadlines assumed for the development, finalization, approval and application of the framework plans and school programs for pre-university education, through the Chart of activities regarding the national curriculum .
Changes of an objective nature within art. 18 and art. 21 of the European Regulation 241/2021, more precisely the adjustment of some indicators in accordance with the application of the price increase index and in accordance with the real need in the territory.
“In this sense, in applying the proposal to reduce the non-refundable financial support (art. 18), the Ministry of Education exclusively proposed the adjustment of the targets and benchmarks that were not reached following the calls for projects already launched and whose calendar was already extended by several times, in order to support the beneficiaries to submit projects”, the ministry also stated.
Thus, the institution proposed:
– Adjusting the indicators within the benchmarks related to the endowment of pre-university education units with computer labs. In this case, following the call for projects, it turned out that the local need was lower than the initial estimate of the Ministry of Education, mainly as a result of the multiple fundings that schools benefited from during the pandemic to ensure the necessary IT equipment. Therefore, following the centralization of the real need transmitted by the educational units, through the funding requests submitted within the call for endowments, the Ministry of Education requested the adjustment of the benchmarks in accordance with the submitted projects, so that the financial allocation can be used by reference to the real need at the time of the opening of the calls for projects, not at the time of the estimates made on the date of the submission of the Recovery and Resilience Plan (eg: from the initially estimated 5,200 laboratories to a minimum of 4,350).
– Reduction of the target for the establishment of complementary early education services from 412 to a minimum of 90. The new value of the target corresponds to the submitted projects (99), following several meetings with potential beneficiaries and the extension of the submission calendar several times. Between 2020 and 2021, the target was estimated at 412 complementary services dedicated exclusively to isolated/disadvantaged localities.
“In applying art. 21 regarding the modification of targets and milestones due to objective reasons from Regulation 241/2021, the proposals of the Ministry of Education aimed at adjustments as a result of price increases between the time of drafting the PNRR and the time of launching the calls for projects (validated by INSSE data), as well as extensions of deadlines for reasons objectives, respectively the period for obtaining approvals for infrastructure projects or a small number of electric school minibus suppliers”, the Ministry of Education also transmitted.
According to the institution, the changes regarding the number of beneficiary schools within the National School Dropout Reduction Program are based, on the one hand, on the application of the correction index regarding the increase in prices (also, the grant for schools was increased from 200,000 to 300,000 euros from round I to round II), so that the beneficiary educational units can carry out their project activities.
“We mention that in the first round of the National School Dropout Reduction Program, 1,409 projects were submitted, and in the second round, 693 projects were submitted, although the call for projects was extended twice. At the same time, the Ministry of Education is considering the relaunch of the 2nd round of PNRAS after the completion of the evaluation of the submitted projects from the June-July 2023 session, as well as the launch of a call for projects dedicated to small schools, with less than 40 students at the gymnasium, for which it was put already in public consultation the Applicant’s Guide, with a view to the consolidated support of these educational units from an administrative point of view, so that each potential beneficiary is part of this project to reduce school dropout”, the press release also states.
According to the ministry, within Investment 10 – Purchase of green minibuses, the estimation of the initial target (3,200) at the time of submission of the PNRR was made by referring to the costs of purchasing electric minibuses with a number of 8+1 seats.
“Prior to the launch of the “Electric minibuses for students” call, the Ministry of Education carried out a needs analysis with the support of local public authorities to identify localities that need school minibuses. As a result of this analysis, it turned out that the UATs request, in order to respond to the specific needs of the community, in a much higher proportion, financing for minibuses with 16+1 seats and, in some situations, minibuses with more than 16+1 seats. Therefore, the costs of the transport vehicles were at least double compared to the estimate made initially”, the statement also states.
According to him, the Ministry of Education proposed updating the target by referring to the number of beneficiaries (the children who will benefit from school transport remain the same, but will be grouped in minibuses with a larger capacity of seats).
“We mention the fact that, in the last year, the Ministry of Education tried to identify additional funding sources to satisfy the need in the territory as much as possible, so that the initial budget of 200 million euros dedicated to this target was increased by another 50 million of euros, plus the co-financing of the county councils in the amount of over 7 million euros”, the press release also states.
The Ministry of Education also specifies that “a single milestone from the PNRR – the grant for the digitization of the National Council of Rectors (CNR) – must be reconsidered as the CNR is not under public utility status, so it cannot be a beneficiary of this type of funding, according to the operational arrangements related to milestone 501”.
Editor : A.C.