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Bucharest
January 17, 2021
EDITORIAL

Worrisome rise in school dropouts

Ever since this school year began, the public opinion was puzzled by such incredible facts as very many children 2.5 to 5-6 years old being unable to find kindergarten seats, a sad reality with no reasonable justification , including the prep form children being out of the kindergarten structure and into the school program. Hence the assumption that kindergartens should not be overcrowded, while all the children under six years old would be included in the pre-schooling system. The decisive stage for the good running of the entire education system, for the moral unity and solidarity of each generation, since it’s a fact that modern, quality education cannot be without including certain age groups and neglecting the attributes specific to each education cycle.The protests of parents discriminated against sparked an unexpected reaction from political decision-makers, either from those in power or in the opposition, who no longer blamed the “difficult legacy” and the hope of things improving  “over time”. This time, with a view toward the upcoming legislative election, they opted for an even more perfidious solution, pointing the finger at school dropping, which has been quite high this year. Yet, they don’t approach this fact straightforward, by admitting plain and simple that the dropout rate exceeds 20 pc, the highest EU-wide, but suggest that it is the parents’ fault. Therefore, it’s others, not the politicians who are to blame. Why is it that many parents have to stop their children from going to school?The answer is not to the politicians’ liking, whether they belong to the ruling government or the opposition.

And this is exactly why all the aspects of such answer must be highlighted. The disbandment of many school units, mostly rural ones, is the first and foremost reason why the school dropout rate is on the rise. It is not creation, program, but reduction and discrimination that are the attributes of today’s politicians in this country. This is exactly the reason why schools and hospitals are being closed down, and why Romania ranks tops with respect to dropout rate and the drastic reduction in life expectancy.Tens of thousands of children, including the primers, have to walk several kilometres a day to get to school in a neighbour village and back, whether in autumn and winter, which is one reason why they have to give up school. Government officials offered to solve the [problem by procuring school minibuses to take children to and from school. Only that local mayors, politically involved as they are, often commit abuses and such vehicles were taken out of school’s jurisdiction and subordinated to party interest instead, which led to such motor vehicles no longer being operable. The kids are therefore compelled to walk, yet again, to and from school, who often fall prey to packs of stray dogs that attack them and leave them hospitalized for several days, until they get the much-needed, and often missing, rabies vaccines are supplied. This also contributes to parents’ decision not to let their children to go to another locality to attend school, and this, too, boosts the dropout rate.The Romanian family goes through some tough times. EU statistics show that over 46 pc of Romanians live in poverty, the highest rate in Europe. Poverty contributes to family disorganization, as either one or both souses have to emigrate looking for work abroad. Meanwhile, their offspring remain in the care of relatives most often for whom school is not always a priority, and this how emigration, too boosts school dropout rate and illiteracy.The underage working black market work is another factor that fuels dropping out of school amid a climate of chronic poverty. If grownups only resort to black labour temporarily, if compelled by some extreme situation, in children’s case, it tens to become permanent, and that, since their potential “employers” are most of the time  not only tax dodgers but people with a criminal record as well. Thus, it is not only begging, washing car windshields or scrap iron collection, but also prostitution as well that makes forced labour to take the most painful aspects possible. Condemning people to forced labour is ruled out by the European judicial practice, yet, poverty makes it re-emerge under forms so unpredictable and carefully veiled that even the defence means specific to the rule of law are sometimes overwhelmed by such practices.The dropout rate is also stimulated by whole , united, yet very poor families where the underage must work alongside their parents to help the family make ends meet. While such situations cannot be associated with black labour, they are a social menace nonetheless, as they entice school dropout rate, and that despite Romania having to bridge the economic gap between Romania and the other EU countries.The pervasive corruption is a contributing factor as well, which crisis to the top segments of the Romanian society, where poorly educated yet affluent businessmen use their riches to get Parliament seats. How could learning remain meaningful when such role models get so extensive a coverage from the media, including TV programs, while so many baccalaureate and university graduates are unemployed and forced to leave off unemployment benefits.And yet, the fight for learning being promoted as instrumental to a successful life is not altogether lost, only that its success depends not on isolated measures, no matter how well-meant they are, but also a general climate favourable to education, emphasizing positive examples from among high school and university students, winners in international contests, and up to the great Romanian artists and scientists. Unfortunately, their exemplary achievements have no place in the said programs that have children as their most loyal viewers. That this happens is a pity, as the anniversaries of some outstanding world-renowned Romanian figures often get unnoticed, including the birth centennial of George Emil Palade, a Nobel Prize laureate in medicine.

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