About a decade ago, the EU adopted an ambitious strategic programme, capable of meeting the high development rates registered by Japan, China, India, the Latin America, the USA etc. The “key” to thisfast-paced competition was theemphasis laid upon education and scientific research, so the EU setas priority to gain precedence worldwide in these strategic sectors, by the middle of the century. But good intentions alone cannot secure the success, without a significant and coherent effort by all EU member states. If such effortis not set in place, any development programme – no matter how ambitious – tends to bogdown, or generate large-scale differences capable to undermine thelong-term goals.
This is the conclusion of an EU analysis of its member states’ education systems. The evolutions, stagnations and involution of various member states are so wideand unexpected that they make it impossible to reach a large-scale conclusion.
School abandonment is at anaverage 16 pc across the EU but, if we consider its quasi-disappearance in the developed states of Western Europe, it means that this ravaging socio economic phenomenon has reached tragic proportions in other states of the EU, including Romania. The same goes with the development of preschool education (a European average of 92 pc), post-graduateeducation (32.3 pc) or the continuous education, in whose absence any country risks a historic failure.
Seen from this perspective, the recent paper on European education is a brief, but telling overview of a phenomenon the Nine O’Clock daily has extensively approached in its pages for the last 15 years: the permanent crisis of the Romanian education system. Because of this setback, we rank among the last countries in the EU, in many aspects related to the education system. And this reality leads to a tragic paradox, mainly because this decadenceis the result of a farce: each of the 10-12 ministers that were in charge of Education in the last two decades had the personal ambition to reform the sector at all cost. Each came with his or her own project of reform, lacking coherence with those of his predecessors, and negated what had been done before, leaving behind a contradictory reality and an organisational vacuum.
The tragic paradox of the Romanian education system is reflected these days in the chaotic decentralisation, which ignore the fact that national unity – the foremost attribute of a modern state -derives precisely from the unitary value of the education system, from its substance and maximum social accessibility. This truth has led to the conviction- unanimously shared around the globe, also by therecent study made by the EU – that the most urgent and effective investment which can be made is in the human being, in developing its creativeness in a competitive world. Countries like Germany and Japan, which suffered extensive damages in WorldWar 2, were able to rapidly progress in the world economic hierarchy precisely because they rapidly restored and developed their national education systems. Starting from such historic examples, the EU research warns that the main antidote for the present economic and social crisis is to develop the national education system.
“Another famous error was that about the structure of school Boards, which should be made 50 pc by teachers and 50 pc by parents, although administration boards should include an uneven number of members, precisely to avoid a tie vote. All these elements hint to a terrible ignorance of the government, which replaced social dialogue through the successive protests of teachers.”
Unfortunately, our rulers seem to believe the opposite, because the chaotic decentralisation of the administrative system is detrimental to the rural education system. Subordinating schools to local mayors and county school inspectorates undermines the quality and the social accessibility of Education. Why? Because these two institutions are often controlled by opposing political parties, and school can onlysuffer from this antagonism. This is precisely what pushed school abandonment in Romania towards 20 pc, while the quality of education is very poor, in many situations.
The damaging interference of politics often turns into a real blackmail, which forces the government to ignore even the peril against national unity,only to stay in power. This led to the adoption of the present Education Law, which transforms the official language of the Romanian state into a “foreign language” and allows the use of books and maps adverse toRomania in the study of national history and geography.These acts of decentralisation take place in regions where ethnic Romanians are in minority, so they are discriminated in terms of both language and education, as the price of keeping the present ruling team in“power” – a power that is usually seen as the way to get rich, asproven by the new cases of corrupt ministers that surfaced these days.
Another reason for criticism is the abusive fragmentation of the education process. An essential principle of Education prevents any change during the school year, if not during a whole educational cycle that needs continuity and has anorganic character. Then, why did authorities decide to transfer the 9th grade from highschool to middle school? Such innovations lead to frequent grid locks in the education system.Another famous error was that about the structure of school Boards, which should be made 50 pc by teachers and 50pc by parents, although administration boards should include an uneven number of members, precisely to avoid a tie vote.
All these elements hint to a terrible ignorance of the government,which replaced social dialogue through the successive protests of teachers. On the other hand, these protests permanently weaken the unity and quality of the Romanian education system. Social dialogue is a supreme value in the EU, but not in Romania. Why? Simply because Romanian rulers, under the pressure of corruption, cannot get the whole picture, synthesis and prospective thinking implied by the Education system. In fact, national interest has been reduced to ignoble personal interests, andRomanian school is adrift.