EDITORIAL

A system against improvisation

The crisis of the Romanian education system is obvious, no matter if it is evaluated on the horizontal or the vertical. On the horizontal, crisis is manifest through the discrepancies in the operations of education units, while on the vertical it starts with the way authorities organised the admission of 6 year old children to the preparatory grade. All kind of contradictions mar the system, with impact upon schools, families and the public in general, which mainly accuses the incoherence of administration and principles. The fact that children are divided, split in two groups – one being admitted to the preparatory grade and the other directly to the first grade – illustrates the attack against the unity and solidarity of a whole generation. Precisely such issues reflect – and also fuel – the danger of fragmentation and alienation – up to disappearance – of our national conscience.

To the opposite end, at the top of the education system, we can find the same contradictions, fueled by the priority of the group and clan mentality which plagues our political parties. Over the last 22 years, dozens of ministers, deputy ministers and state secretaries coordinated our Education system. The only thing they did was promote their own ideas and interests, masked as “the structural reform of the Education system.” But this kind of “structural reform” is so “categorical and unilateral” that it undermines the systemic character of Education. Hence, by negating any previous “structural reform” attempt, the pseudo-modernisation process restarts over and over again. We thus witness a permanent recommencement that illustrates, rather than a ridiculous stagnation, a serious involution that almost irrevocably leads to collapse.In such conditions, when the hierarchy of the Education system – from minister to school principal – is characterised by arrogance and political biasing, corruption becomes a “natural attribute.” Most Education officials appointed to a position of authority – at local, county, ministry or government level – accused their predecessors of corruption, while those that left the job defended themselves by accusing their successors of being even more corrupt than they were in their times. Like if the only thing to blame was the degree of someone being corrupt, instead of the idea of corruption itself – the first sign of a sick society. It is no surprise that even the present minister of Education – politically independent – had to suspend the acquisitions of furniture for preparatory grade classrooms. Why he did it? Simply because the auctions for this furniture had been rigged, bringing producer companies huge profits from public money, which they partly used to finance the electoral campaign of some parties belonging to the former ruling coalition.The good intentions of the acting interim minister of Education are evident. But, in the present historic stage reached by Romania, good intentions at individual scale can be useful only in a correlative and organic framework. Hence, the rescue of our education system, its transformation into a socially emergent factor, requires a complementary political structure, rather than a “messianic” personality. The main objective of strategic, national significance is represented by the social amplitude and the quality of education. Here, on this ground, is played the fate of each nation, especially those – like Romania – that struggle behind the developed nations of Europe. In our country, chaotic decentralisation and privatisation divided and fragmented the society in a vast majority of very poor citizens and a thin minority of wealthy individuals. But, as this minority that has much influence in politics has no reason to support knowledge and education, the growing trend of illiteracy and school abandonment is explainable.This tragic social reality can be stopped in time, by securing equal education opportunities at school for all children, starting with the age of 6, regardless of their social condition. Here, no form of discrimination – even those disguised as the qualitative priorities or the natural differences of value which we are told exist throughout each generation – has no credibility. The only to blame are the educators deprived of vocation, or affected themselves by discrimination – also in terms of salary. We encounter the reflexes of such discrimination in the evaluations of 6 y.o. children, who are sent either to the preparatory grade (preschool education), or to the first grade of the primary school. This leads to conclusions, also with regard to the concept of “structural reform.”A truly structural reform has precise complementary objectives, and ways to measure its success. Here, there is no place for improvisation, and a high price is paid for any abdication from directing principles. This is confirmed by the current precarious state of the Romanian education system, where the synthesis of efforts directed at vital matters has been replaced by the improvisation of the politically-driven “arbitrary.”

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