The dictatorship of improvisations

After the first day of the school year, a day full of festivities, the education process enters a continuous, usually tension-free flow. But this rule was no longer relevant this year when the contradictions of the education system were heightened and dominated most of the public consciousness on the first day of the school year. The most acute debates of this kind centred on the preparatory class that includes 5-6-year-olds. Here the dissatisfactions start from the governing officials and grow in intensity up to the level of parents and members of the teaching staff. Many of the contradictions that generate such dissatisfactions spring from the current Education Law. A law that the former Boc Government adopted through emergency ordinance precisely in order to avoid seeing it go through the perfecting proposals crystallized in parliamentary debates on this issue.

Once adopted through emergency ordinance, the said law could no longer garner wide support and so preparations for its implementation were mostly neglected. That is how one can explain the fact that most of the schools were not prepared to welcome 5-6-year-old children. From the teaching staff needed for this class, to classrooms with deficient furniture and sanitary ware, everything was improvised in a matter of several days. That is why the start of the school year was postponed by a week. Stormy debates continue to grow. Most of them centre on the preparatory class that includes 5-6-year-olds. The classrooms are too ill prepared for them, the size of the school benches being too big. The teaching staff was trained for this preparatory class only in recent weeks. In rural areas young children have to go to school in neighbouring localities. And in urban areas young children share their school hours with 17-18-year-old “colleagues” that frequently give them the example of an abusive or even violent behaviour. It’s not by chance that the festivities occasioned by the start of the school year were attended by older high school students that were impudently smoking and “congratulating” each other. Such behaviour is indeed extremely noxious for 6-year-olds. The parents of preparatory class children complain of the fact that their timetable of classes disrupts their daily schedule, forcing them to leave work in order to pick up their children from school at noon. That is why these parents prefer the preparatory class to be included within the kindergarten system whose extended schedule could save them from a lot of problems. The dissatisfaction of these parents is obvious, but their solution of including the preparatory class within the kindergarten system cannot be accepted. Education starts at the age of 6, and in some countries even at the age of 5, everywhere in the EU. The difference being that in their case the education system includes the “after school” program that allows children to have lunch and benefit from a relaxing schedule of activities after classes, a schedule that also helps them prepare the next day’s homework. Romania cannot ignore such modern practices by always resorting to anti-educational improvisations. Even only for the fact that if this preparatory class were to be included within the kindergarten system such kindergartens would not be present in all rural localities. And where they are they need financial donations from parents. As modest as those donations might be, not all parents can offer them, being known that poverty is widespread in rural areas and the social motivation to learn is dropping on a yearly basis. Consequently, if this preparatory class were to be included within the kindergarten system many children would be left out. And, consequently, the first class of the primary education system would include children with significant discrepancies from the point of view of their most basic preparation. It would be one of the most discriminatory improvisations. As in any other civilized country, Romanian education should have the characteristics of a system. A system conceived and applied with the highest rigor, with principles and methods verified in an anticipative manner. Education cannot be subjected to improvisations, with changes from one pole to another for reasons other than educational, precisely because it has an anticipative character. That is why the opinions of many government officials that plead for including the preparatory class within the kindergarten system are surprising. The only plausible argument of this pleading is the chronic under-financing of the education system. Indeed, the Romanian education system receives less than 4 per cent of GDP, while the European average surpasses 8 per cent. This chronic financial deficit was seen right at the start of this school year when over 15 per cent of the schools did not receive sanitary permits; when many classrooms were improvised within former labs, gym halls and teaching staff chancelleries; when in rural areas in particular children are forced to go to school in neighbouring localities. But such a massive financial and organizational deficit does not excuse, it accuses even more the dictatorship of improvisations to which Romanian government officials have resorted for over two decades. This deficit of conception, vision and governmental responsibility affects Romania’s security on the long term. That is why the Education and Health systems are connected to the National Defence system in a triangle that defines the long term national strategy. The inadequacy and inadvertence of improvisation questions even well-intended initiatives. Since violence, the consumption of drugs and even alcohol are factors that attack the school system ever more, the Internal Affairs Ministry recently adopted the “Safety in Schools” strategy in which over 10,000 police officers and gendarmes are programmed to protect schools, particularly in urban areas where the school children’s safety is ever more precarious. The initiative does indeed answer concrete needs, especially when underworld members infiltrate themselves in the school perimeter, propagating and stimulating an anti-social behaviour. The Internal Affairs Ministry’s initiative can put an end to noxious infiltrations from outside the schools. But this initiative cannot make up for the lack of education, including moral education, in the education process. The first and the most powerful reaction against anti-educational infiltrations has to come from the teachers and students themselves. They are the first called upon to accuse and challenge the deficit of behaviour in our contemporary society and to plead, through their very behaviour, against the dictatorship of improvisations.

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