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March 21, 2023

Politicians keep quarrelling… while the country is ablaze

Romania aspires to being labeled as “the country of political rows.” It’s not just how often they happen, but also how fiery they are, so these endless rows keeps the front page day after day, pushing to the backstage the really serious issues of economy and society, such as those encountered in the medical or education systems. This allows the defects of Education, for instance, to gain momentum each year, overshadowed by the political quarrels that make us deaf even to the warning signals issued by the EU. This “deafness” of our rulers makes us adapt an old Romanian proverb to the new conditions of today: “Politicians keep quarrelling… while the country is ablaze.”Under the influence of this “new profession,” who among our rulers – regardless of their political colour, is still aware that prospective studies from everywhere have been warning, for a long time, about the unprecedented development of intellectual activities?

OECD – Forum for the Future often stressed that, in 2020, the knowledge supply of the human race will double every 73 days, compared to 5 years at the beginning of the 21st Century. It was also anticipated that, in 2020, almost 6 billion people will use the internet, against 900 million today. In the same year 2020, mankind will have one billion higher education graduates, up from several hundreds of millions today.In these conditions, the instruction and education process becomes absolute priority for any modern society, as the most profitable medium and long-term investment. The profit source of social action will move from purchasing physical assets to the production of knowledge (intellectual capital). This means that the development gap existing between various countries will either widen or narrow, depending on the investments made by each country in its education sector. Precisely on this basis of education as an investment priority some countries will be capable of burning the stages of underdevelopment. This is a historic and unique opportunity that countries can seize, if they are aware of it.From this point of view, Romania lost – and is still losing – much of its competence capacity. The reason? The pretended modernisation of the education system is reduced, in fact, to a number of setbacks equivalent to that of Education ministers that were in charge for the last 22 years. For over two decades, each minister “started over again” the modernisation process and the pretended evolution of the system, but each of these new beginning actually meant a tragic involution. The positive exception, which also won the recognition of OECD on several occasions, is represented by the rights of minorities to study in their maternal language. Here, OECD recognises Romania as “world leader,” but even this quality is overshadowed by the fact that the ethnic Romanians living in areas with Hungarian majority do not enjoy the same rights.Such contradictions often generated by political blackmail, favour school abandonment that reached 20 pc in Romania, with its very serious consequence: illiteracy. Its cure does not pertain only to the special assistance granted to schoolchildren. The roots of this social evil are much deeper, and of economic and social nature: the increasing poverty of a large part of the population, the dismantling of families and the very low psycho-social motivation of learning. By simply looking at the local labour market, one cannot stop from noticing the size, but especially the nature of Romanian unemployment, which diminishes the psycho-social motivation of learning. This is the source of school abandonment: the conclusion reached by the untrained labourer that schooling is not very useful in this endless phase of the transition.By analysing unemployment figures, one can easily see that youths under 35 represent 60 pc of the total number of jobless, and one in three of them has medium or higher education. Compared to the developed countries, where the number of medium and highly trained jobless is very small, this figure of 30 pc proves that unskilled labour is favoured in Romania. In the developed countries of Europe, a higher rate of unemployment also means a selection of the labour force, based on professional skills. Increased unemployment means less jobless with medium and higher education. On the other hand, in Romania this ratio is chaotic, precisely because high professional skills are no safeguard against unemployment. Then, with knowledge enjoying so little appreciation on the Romanian labour market, what should discourage school abandonment.The fresh graduates of higher education institutions are the least demanded on the labour market. During job fairs, employers seek experienced personnel, rejecting all those who have not worked while in school or university. The graduates of polytechnic institutes are required to have work experience in industrial companies, although the Romanian industry has been scrapped many years ago. This is the painful reflex of the economic aggression present in Romania, which inhibits the appetite for gaining new professional skills, instead of encouraging it.This is what made the proverb “The old woman combs her hair… while the country is ablaze” turn into its actualised form “Politicians keep quarrelling… while the country is ablaze.” With such “evolutions” being permanent in our country, we can expect it to be further adapted into “The country is ablaze because politicians keep quarrelling.”

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