The year 2013 was a rich year from an agricultural standpoint, grain exports surpassing the average level registered in the last 8 years. And yet imports remain dominant since we no longer have an industry, including one for food products. This is the source of, first of all, the high degree of poverty that has fallen over Romania. And this severe poverty is negatively reflected on Romania’s future too. Poverty is the cause of the fact that our demographic index is in a continuous drop. Poverty lies at the basis of the rising school dropout rate. Poverty is increasingly amplifying the emigration of Romanians who are looking for jobs no matter how modest, being known that 19 per cent of the Romanians that still have a job earn a salary that falls below their daily needs. Poverty explains the crowdedness of homes for the elderly and this serious social disease also lies at the basis of the young generation’s physical and moral underdevelopment.
The opinions of politicians of all stripes converge in the conclusion that an increasing number of newborns are abandoned in hospitals and maternities by their very poor mothers precisely in order for the former to be protected from death through starvation. And 60 per cent of these cases are registered in rural regions. Over 80,000 Romanian children are currently missing one or both parents who were forced to emigrate, also because of poverty. Thus left in the care of ever more distant relatives, children suffer immensely because of this painful loneliness. That is precisely the explanation for the fact that in Romania 1 of every 3 children does not develop normally because of loneliness and often because of hunger. The case of the one-year-old boy who died of starvation in Braila County, because of the “contribution” of his 4 elder brothers, has passed almost unnoticed by the ruling power representatives. Among other things, because this case is not an exception.
And the tragedy of the youngest generation in Romania does not end here unfortunately. Over 30,000 children have one or both parents in jail, also because of poverty. The pain of this reality is overwhelming. And this is why over 3,000 children run away from home every year. Unfortunately this fleeing from daily reality, even a comfortable reality sometime, is increasingly becoming a dominant trait of the young generation’s psychology. The case of Iulia Ionescu, a pupil with top grades who ran away from home because of her preference – unnatural for her age – for monastic life, is not an isolated case. Nor the unhappiest. There are numerous other cases of much more severe “infantile emigration.” That is precisely how underage children end up, at an always growing percentage (currently of over 16 per cent), dropping out of school. Many of them have surpassed school age but are able to learn to write only in jail. Jails overcrowded today precisely because of the influx of underage convicts.
The immense majority of those dropping out of school invade the black market of forced labor, begging, sexual abuses or human trafficking. The International Children’s Rights Day, celebrated every November 20, occasions in the EU the review of the achievements registered in what concerns the protection offered to the youngest generation. The possible criticism expressed on this occasion usually seeks to stimulate substantial efforts of this kind. Unfortunately, in Romania precisely the mention of the principles of this international day even more poignantly points to the inexistence, at state level, of such preoccupations of protecting the young generation. Even the fundamental right to life, the first human right, is contradicted in Romania by the fact that we have the highest infant mortality rate in the EU, and the general health conditions are in freefall. The severe poverty affecting more than half of Romania’s population results in an increasingly painful rise in the number of malnourished children.
The right to education, another fundamental human right, is also undermined in Romania because of poverty. With increasingly dangerous consequences. For instance, the school dropout rate results in every 1 in 4 teenagers smoking daily, and over 15 per cent of them resorting to alcohol abuse and drugs. Such multiple failures, with “escapisms” and “emigrations” of all sorts, stem also from the daily life of all schools. The recent simulation of the national examination for eighth grade pupils has revealed some of the poorest results. While in the Romanian Language and Literature exam the results of grade 5 and above generally center at around 50 per cent, the Mathematics exam was catastrophic. Only 1 in 3 pupils scored grade 5 and above. The rest scored mostly grade 1 to 2.
The source of these educational shortcomings has to do with the poverty of the mentality of all of our political parties which are the adepts not of creation but exclusively of servile imitation. Here is a sinister case: ever since the 1970s a very relaxed educational concept appeared in Western Europe, under the heading “the child knows better than us what he should do!” Consequently, children were allowed to do what they wanted, when they wanted and as much as they wanted. And it is precisely this lack of authority on behalf of “modern” parents and educators that has led to the collapse of authentic education. The belief according to which “the child should be his own boss” has led to the collapse not just of school discipline but also of the quality of the educational act. Hence the rise in anxiety, dissatisfaction, which has increasingly frequently led to penal offenses and even to suicide attempts among teenagers. Precisely this hyper-permissive concept – “the child is the boss!” – is now believed to have “given birth to a generation of monsters.” The solution recommends, naturally, not punishing the child but persuading him of his natural need of continued self-improvement, including in what concerns his social relations and a well-defined system of values.
Unfortunately, this creative unrest among educators and psychologists is still flimsy in Romania. As a result, parental education and school education are frequently at the extremes: either unnaturally permissive, based on the belief that “the child knows best what he has to do,” or frequently punishing, based on the principle that “stern discipline is good.” Just like in other domains, the Romanian educational environment is deprived of its strictly necessary nuances. So that not only material poverty but also spiritual poverty is strangling Romania.