Interim Education Minister Liviu Pop (photo), appointed in office by PM Ponta on Tuesday evening after former Education Minister Ioan Mang resigned following a plagiarism row, stated yesterday that the top priority of his brief term in office will consist of national exams and the baccalaureate, since the deadlines are very short and some of them have actually been missed. “I don’t want to search for those guilty, I want the exams to take place correctly, legally and on time. (…) The future of 500,000 children taking part in the baccalaureate and the national exams is at stake. The main goals are appointing the baccalaureate commissions, the deadlines being missed. Today’s secretary of state will be President of the National Baccalaureate Commission, provided he is not replaced,” Pop stated during a press conference. Pop reiterated that the orders on organizing the national exams and the baccalaureate will not be changed, so that the video monitoring system will be maintained. According to the new minister, the stipulation according to which the preparatory class will be included in the primary education system will not be changed. Pop also pointed out that government decisions concerning the enrollment figures for the pre-tertiary and tertiary systems should have been approved on March 1, stating that this will probably happen in the following days. “We are not allowed to make any mistakes, we hope that the government decisions on the enrollment figures will be approved in the following days. (…) I thought a lot before accepting this position, but, out of respect for the parents, teachers, pupils and Premier Victor Ponta, I accepted. I know this is a very difficult period and we have to work flawlessly,” Liviu Pop stated. Concerning the tertiary system, Liviu Pop pointed out on Monday that he will have a meeting with the previous three education ministers. Former Education Minister Daniel Funeriu (Democrat-Liberal) stated that he did not confirm his presence at the meeting with Pop but he considers institutional dialogue open and is waiting for a formal request. At the time the Ponta Government was sworn in, Liviu Pop had been appointed Delegate Minister for Social Dialogue, having trade union experience within the education system. Pop pointed out yesterday that on May 7 he suspended himself from all offices held in projects involving European funds and he resigned from the two trade unions he was a member of.
Accusations against former government
At the same time, at the start of the government meeting yesterday Premier Ponta accused the Boc Government of cutting the baccalaureate’s financing, asking Minister Pop to create a cell in order to organize this exam. “The Boc Government has made a mockery out of the baccalaureate’s financing by cutting the teachers’ money. We have to see what we can fix,” the Prime Minister stated, being quoted by Mediafax. On the other hand, former Education Minister Ioan Mang stated that he found serious problems when taking over the ministry, such as the fact that the contractual documents for the maintenance and supervision of national exam databases, including the baccalaureate’s databases, are not signed, being set to be closed through direct entrusting. He pointed out that the value of this contract stood at RON 1.4 M last year. Mang claimed that the former government transferred RON 200 M from the Education Ministry’s budget to the Reserve Fund, the money being then offered to PDL mayoralties.
An expected resignation
Referring to Mang’s resignation, former Education Minister and party colleague Ecaterina Andronescu stated yesterday for RFI that she is following the plagiarism row “with worry” and is waiting for clarifications from Mang, hoping that the party’s and government’s image will not be affected. The criticisms were more vehement coming from the opposition. PDL President Emil Boc stated that Mang’s resignation is the symbol of Ponta Government’s amateurism and incompetence, while PDL MEP Cristian Preda stated that the nomination of another minister is a sign of confusion.