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March 29, 2023

Teachers stage new protests against massive layoffs

About 100 teachers, members of the ‘Spiru Hatet’ Education Unions Federation, staged a demonstration in front of the Education Ministry yesterday, unhappy with the current state of the education system and government plans to layoff 15,000 people from the system. A delegation of protesters met with State Secretary Catalin Baba to discuss their demands, but got no concrete offer, except a promise to meet for further talks sometime next week. The union federation’s executive president, Marius Nistor, said unionists demanded real dialogue with authorities. If next week’s meeting does not result in concrete solutions for teachers, unionists will boycott the end of the current school year, he said, quoted by Mediafax.

Moreover, if authorities do not withdraw the government ordinance providing that 15,000 education posts be dissolved, teachers will resort to other kinds of protests, Nistor warned earlier yesterday. “We will stage big rallies, we will boycott the school year’s end and won’t take part in any examinations if our demands are not met. In Romania, education and health care are not considered priorities and are severely under-financed,” Nistor said. The union leader also criticized the fact that the Ombudsman rejected teachers’ request to notify the Constitutional Court over the government ordinance. The Ombudsman said that in a crisis situation, such a measure is justified, even if it is in violation of the law. It added that there is no reason to notify the Constitutional Court in relation to the ordinance and that this issue can easily be solved in Parliament.

The Ombudsman’s response was also criticized by the Federation of Free Education Unions (FSLI). “We were surprised to see the answer, given that this ordinance was in violation of legal procedures which require authorities to consult their social partners over this kind of measures,” FSLI head Aurel Cornea said.

Ex Education Minister asks university reform

Meanwhile yesterday, the Cluj Napoca ‘Babes-Bolyai’ University’s rector, Andrei Marga, a former minister of education, demanded the current minister to immediately re-launch university reform, so as to improve Romanian universities’ performances.

In a memo sent to Minister Daniel Funeriu, Marga outlined five major problems that need to be addressed in the university system as soon as pssible. “It becomes clearer that we must act in three directions at the same time: improving financing, changing legislation and assuring a competitive development vision,” Marga wrote in the memo.

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