EDITORIAL

The imperative of non-partisan education

To many Romanians, many natural phenomena kept in check elsewhere have become daily nuisances. Among them, massive snowstorms, ice, torrential rains leading to endless flooding, prolonged droughts with parched crops etc. And, unfortunately, it is the young generations that bear the brunt of these “current facts” since, any time such extreme natural phenomena happen, schools are the first to suffer, which makes the education system in this country into the most vivid picture of the Romanian reality.

And what a sad, discouraging, if not downright frightening, picture this is, and that, since a blizzard proved enough to make 400 schools shut their gates on account of freezing classrooms. Many more were unable to operate as usual, given students have not been attending classes for more than a week now because of lack of transportation, mostly in localities where education units were closed down over a year ago on grounds of low school population, who, government says, was made available special buses to take them where the schools are.

Yet, such transportation is nowhere to be seen now, when most needed.

Their absence lately was blamed on the blizzard, although they are very much absent even in normal weather conditions, and that due to local mayors, who, in the name of what proved being a reckless and chaotic decentralization, have been put in charge of school administration. This results in their being decision makers with respect to many aspects of school life, including school hours being reduced, or schools closed down under the supposed threat of some local diseases.

Such local decision makers also being rather deficient education wise leads to “definite” decisions over the daily life of the teaching staff, students and their parents. This is why the kindergarten or primary school children reviewing and registration are often subject to the “liking” of local administrators. This in turn leads to education and health suffering continuous degradation. Therefore, it is not mere chance that the dropout rate reached up to 20 pc, and the rural high school graduates taking the baccalaureate examination hardly come to 2-3 pc, despite the rural population making up to 40 pc of Romania’s entire population.

The principle of administrative decentralization, useful and necessary in certain areas as it might be, proves being a disaster as far as health and education are concerned, given their unitary, organic structure, which is the first to be sacrificed when decentralization is applied. This results in Romania being under the threat of having as many levels of health and educations as the number of its local administrations. Indeed, decentralization is conducive to cohesion and organic features being sacrificed, with the consequent chaos rooted in partisan education, among others, with school inspectors and principals named or fired overnight according to eminently political criteria, mayors either incapable of taking own decisions or gnawed by arrogant ambition, which in turn causes the real problems to either be ignored or subordinated to partisan, if not mafia-like interests.

The practice of genuine democracies shows that, education, very much like national defence, is a field of strategic interest, and therefore, it should stay above party politics. This must also be the case here, which it isn’t. As with Defence, or Health, Education too should submit itself to the imperative of national interest, and not to group or party interests. This is the only way Romanian education at all levels could succeed in following a program of unanimously requested reforms, yet always fragmented or brought to a halt by partisan meddling. Only by choosing the most prestigious educators, members of the Romanian Academy, and not partisan appointees, as education ministers would help education fulfil its task of preparing the human resources in this country achieve the highest level of European competitiveness. Only by de-politicizing the leadership of county school inspectorates, schools and institutions of higher learning will the Romanian education system succeed in bringing to life its true vocation of being a laboratory of creative factors and a template for our national identity.

Let’s therefore opt for a non-partisan education system, the first condition for education reform, many of whose components are still on paper, to succeed at long last! This is the first and foremost condition for allowing laws so important to education to be put into practice in fair and comprehensive fashion, and that, since, the current politically-tinged laws are not observed, mostly with today’s confrontational party-legislative climate pitting the coalition government and the opposition against each other reaching unprecedented heights. Why is it that we, Romanians, forget that in a genuine democracy, partisan or non-partisan options should not act as a divisive factor, should not make us into often irreconcilable foes, but unite us under the impetus of a grand national ideal, which should be the foremost goal of any political party, and of each trade union as well.

Let’s therefore opt for an educational system that is non-partisan, organic and national! A synthesis of tradition and modernity. This is one of the chief conditions for Romania to become an example of dignity and solidarity to the entire European Union.

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