Back to school: New school year, old problems

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Approximately 2.3 mil pupils and kindergarten children start 2017 – 2018 school year. President Iohannis attends opening of the school year at the “Gheorghe Sincai” National College: Education Law must cease to be an ever-shifting puzzle

 

Approximately 2.3 million pupils and kindergarten children from pre-university education have started on Monday the courses of the 2017-2018 school year. Of these, 165,000 are primary school pupils and nearly 400,000 are kindergarten children.

The courses of the new school year totalize 167 workdays (35 weeks).

The structure of the new school year comprises the first semester (September 11, 2017 – February 2, 2018) and the second semester (February 12, 2018 – June 15, 2018).

In the first part of the first semester, fifth grade pupils will use an introductory gymnasium compendium until the textbooks necessary for this grade are completed.

School holidays in all education cycles are scheduled as follows: winter holidays (December 23, 2017 – January 14, 2018), midterm holiday (February 3 – 11, 2018), spring holiday (March 31 – April 10, 2018) and summer holiday (June 16 – September 9, 2018).

Additionally, primary schoolers and pre-schoolers will have another holiday on October 28 – November 5, 2017.

For the senior year of the high-school cycle, the school year ends on May 25, 2018, and for the eighth grade on June 8, 2018.

Just like in previous years, the start of the school year is a challenge for pupils and teachers. In other words, every time the school year starts the relevant saying is “New school year, old problems.” Far too many schools lack the necessary permits, fail to meet minimum conditions of hygiene and safety, and thousands more are under rehabilitation. Textbooks are insufficient for all pupils too.

National Education Minister Liviu Pop announced at a press conference at the end of last month that of the total number of 31,297 school buildings, only 19,566 had health permits, 452 had environment permits and 2,261 had fire safety permits. Apart from these, around 2,500 school buildings were being rehabilitated, so that their pupils will have to use other buildings, wherever the mayoralties concerned managed to find space.

 

Never-ending story: Lack of textbooks

 

And since every start of the school year is marred by the “lack of textbooks scandal,” the 2017-2018 school year also started with problems for fifth grade pupils, who will lack any kind of textbooks during the first month of school! “Last year, in November, the curricula for the fifth grade should have been finalised; the technocratic Government did not draft it, extended it to March this year and in March, when we could have taken a decision to solve the problem, we didn’t take the decision because of misinformation within the Education Ministry,” Education Minister Liviu Pop stated before Premier Tudose. Instead of starting their classes, during the first week of school the teachers of fifth graders will express their options in relation to the existing offer of textbooks. Only then, after the options are tallied, will the Ministry order the textbooks that should end up on the pupils’ desks by early October.

 

 Exams interfering with classes

 

The Liberals have asked Minister Liviu Pop to change the timetable of examinations. “For primary and middle schools, the second semester ends on 15 June 2018, but the national examination is scheduled on June 11th, 13th and 14th. Then the evaluation of competencies for the Baccalaureate is scheduled on February 12-22. All of these examinations overlap the timetable of classes for non-senior years,” they point out.

 

President Iohannis: Education Law must cease to be an ever-shifting puzzle

 

President Klaus Iohannis stated on Monday that the Education Law should cease to be a jigsaw puzzle whose pieces are constantly changing, adding that the start of the new school year takes “some” by surprise

“There are, unfortunately, many pupils in Romania who start the school year without textbooks or in buildings that do not comply with the minimum standards. It seems that every time the new school year takes some people take by surprise. Each government shrugs off, pointing the finger at the previous government. However, this is not how things get better. In 2017’s Romania – the saving solution has come to be the reintroduction and return to old methods, such as the sole manual or the recent recentralization, in Bucharest, of all things that have encountered difficulties at the local level. This is not the right approach. And these are not the only problems. Parents and students are subject to major changes in the education system once in a few years or, more recently, more often, which significantly limits their ability to plan their educational path. Only this summer I have sent back to Parliament for review not one, not two, but three legislative initiatives that change, for I do not know which time in a row, the current framework that is already confusing and cumbersome. The Education Law must cease to be a jigsaw puzzle whose pieces change continuously, thus losing the unitary image,” Iohannis said at the opening of the school year at the “Gheorghe Sincai” National College.

The President stressed that one of his priorities is the construction of an educated Romania in which the education system is seated on a predictable track that has the student in the center.

According to him, it is clear that, no matter how Romania will look like, how the economy will develop and how the National Education Strategy will be built, a number of urgent challenges are to be answered.

“Even if we like to believe that we have checked the ‘fulfilled mission’ on literacy, sometime in the 1960s, a large number of pupils finish school as functional illiterates. That is to say, that although they can read, they cannot understand the meaning of a written text and they consequently experience difficulties even in the easiest of situations. Another serious issue is school drop-out, which has, in recent years, reached an alarming rate, one of the highest in the European Union. We do not afford such a thing as a society. It does not help to shift the blame from the central authorities to the local authorities, from one government to another or from school to family. The success of the education system is the only way for a strong Romania to survive and its failure condemns us to involution,” the president reflected.

Klaus Iohannis urged parents to encourage their children, to be by their side and to help them become responsible and involved adults, because our country’s chance for the better lies in their ability to transform the world according to their own ideal.

He also had a message for the pupils. “Dear pupils, there is a full year ahead of you, a year in which you will take a further step towards adulthood. However, beyond the school curriculum, develop on as many plans as possible, do not hesitate to expand your horizons, connect what you learn at school with your interests and hobbies. Be tolerant, open to the new, creative and autonomous in learning, be aware of the importance of your rights as well as your obligations as citizens. It is your world and it is high time you started to discover it and understand it by building your own personality and your own system of values, the future is in your hands and I invite you to step forward to embrace it. I wish you all a good new school year with achievements and may you have at the end the same beautiful impressions of the school year that has passed. In life, we often remember with the greatest pleasure of bygone things and that we cannot have back anymore,” the head of state said.

 

EduMin Pop: Let the children put their imagination to work

 

To both parents and teachers, it’s the students who count the most, Education Minister Liviu Pop said on Monday in his school year beginning address.

“This is why we are making every effort for you to have all the conditions in place, allowing you to focus your strength on learning and implicitly prove to us that you are better than us. I will fight to reduce and even eliminate all shortages in the system. I want to see you in welcoming, safe schools, textbooks on the desks. I want the new school year to be a launching pad towards the fulfillment of your dreams,” said the EduMin.

Education has been and stays an area of major interest, always on the public agenda, underscored Liviu Pop, adding that “this school year should be devoted to the desire to take a decisive step towards quality, exciting and consistent education for the children of Romania. Therefore, the message I convey to you with the utmost consideration, is as simple as that: it is our task as teachers, to instill into students the love of learning, to help them discover this vast universe of knowledge. Love and respect the student, passing down on him what successive generations of teachers have also offered us over time. May you be healthy and stay open to all didactic challenges capable of rendering Romanian education more effective.”

In the same message, the Education Minister asked the parents “to be forthcoming to the children, yet otherwise than some have been so far. Watch over them, but don’t be overly strict on them, love them but don’t crush them, help them but don’t entirely do their homework yourselves. The kids are far more inventive than we imagine, so that I challenge you to give them the chance to put their imagination to work. I am asking you to offer them the necessary tools to build an, if not perfect, at least better world than the one we, their parents have built. May the new school year bring you every day the joy of the top grades received by your children, and that they be exemplary at the discipline called good behavior both at school and at home, because this will make you the happiest parents.”

 

Pop: The school needs well-trained teachers, appropriate curricula and modern infrastructure

 

Minister of National Education Liviu Pop, who attended on Monday the opening of the new school year in Viseul de Jos village, told the parents and children present that a good quality education means well-trained teachers, appropriate up-to-date school curriculum and infrastructure.

“Today, we included on the agenda the biggest training programme of the teaching personnel, over 60,000 teachers will be informed on European funds for the new school curriculum. In the next two years we will have all teachers trained to teach children, in the next two years we will have internet in every school, we have European money for this, and the Romanian school in the pre-university area has the chance to reinvent itself in the next two years, the confidence in the Romanian school will be restored and this thing can be made only by having the three main directions: school curriculums that we will draw-up, highly qualified teachers and a material resource which will be very well set up,” Liviu Pop stated.

He also mentioned that he wanted to participate in the opening of the new school year where he had shaped up in his early years of education.

After the festivities, the Education Minister toured the classroom where he learned and, for a couple of moments, he sat at the desk where he used to sit while living in Viseul de Jos.

Minister Liviu Pop discussed with members of the teaching staff, but also with the children’s parents who attended the festivity.

 

PM to pupils and teachers: Success to everybody in the new school year

 

Prime Minister Mihai Tudose addressed on Monday a message to pupils and teachers in the beginning of the new school year.

“Success to everybody in the new school year! Respect, Mrs and Mr teachers!,” the PM wrote on his Facebook page.

 

Carmen Iohannis at the opening of the school year at ‘Gheorghe Lazar’ College in Sibiu, where she teaches: I’m not giving up on the love of my life – school

 

First Lady Carmen Iohannis took part on Monday morning in the opening of the new school year at the ‘Gheorghe Lazar’ College in the municipality of Sibiu, where she teaches English language classes and is the form master of a class of senior pupils. Asked whether she will teach next year too and whether she will become form master of a class of freshmen, she said she will not give up on the “love of her life” – school.

She was greeted by the pupils whose form master she is and she posed for pictures with them.

Carmen Iohannis said she really missed her wonderful pupils and asked them to be confident in their powers.

“A very difficult year is starting for them. We are twelfth grade pupils, it’s a year with many and I hope very interesting challenges, and I hope the results will match our expectations. They are special pupils and I’m convinced they will have the results they want. I wish them to overcome their limits and to prove once again that they are increasingly better! They should be confident in their powers,” Carmen Iohannis said.

Asked whether she will teach next year too and whether she will become form master of a class of freshmen, she said she will not give up on the “love of her life” – school.

“I will teach ninth grade pupils, but I don’t know whether I’ll still be form master. I don’t want to give up on the love of my life – school,” Carmen Iohannis added.