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October 21, 2021

Pact with the future

Today’s Romania is awash with discrepancies of all sorts, but the most dramatic of them, having the most prolonged negative consequences, are seen in the education domain. An essential, decisive domain for the destiny of any nation, but one which politicians treat in relation to interests other than those specific to the said domain. That is why public information on the state of Romanian education appears mostly when exclusively dramatic states are seen in this domain. Starting right from the first stages of the education system, the most relevant ones in what concerns the educational system’s crisis. And since pre-school education and the “preparatory class” in particular hold the primacy in what concerns confusions of all sorts, nobody is surprised by the fact that an extremely polluting plant in Reghin found its construction site right next to a poor kindergarten for example.

Or that in a locality in Sibiu County desperate parents have decided to stop taking their children to kindergarten and to school since the conditions are appalling. And this kind of contradictions, instead of gradually diminishing on the hierarchical ladder, are amplified up to the governmental level. A recent framework-plan for the primary education system, launched by the Education Ministry, enjoys only four days of debate. What do just four days mean when precisely the pre-school, primary and gymnasium cycles are suffering from many incongruities? First of all from the lack of appropriate space. Ever fewer kindergartens and schools are being built in Romania. In these conditions, now, when all 6-year-olds are supposed to attend the “preparatory class,” parents are completely disoriented. They don’t know where to sign up their children for the “preparatory class,” at kindergartens or at schools? Their possible option can no longer take into account the teaching staff’s prestige, the value of the educational institution, but simply the latter’s safe as possible functioning. This is the reason why our government members brag with the fact that “the solution to the problem is in the hands of each parent; each of them can sign up their children where they want, at kindergarten or at school. Here we are applying an eminently democratic spirit.” Well, this improvisation has nothing to do with democracy. Being known that the supreme reason of democracy is the creation of value. And the government’s compromise on the signing up of 6-year-olds either in kindergarten or in schools is negatively affecting the main goal of education: the unity and organic character of teaching. Being known that, although the curricula are similar, the training of the teaching staff and many organizational factors differ between educational institutions of the same kind, whether we are talking about kindergartens or schools. They differ the more so between a school and a kindergarten. Psycho-somatic discrepancies appear in children precisely because of these contradictions, and the unity of their class is thrown into disarray. Despite the well know imperative that the spiritual unity of each generation ensures the solidarity of a nation. Let’s note forget that in the tradition of Romanian society the year of birth and the memories of the first years of school represent factors of powerful human solidarity. All Romanians, from today’s recruits to the former war veterans, even not knowing each other initially, feel solidarity, perceive themselves as a kind of “sworn brothers” once they discover their common year of birth. The embryos of this solidarity that becomes the component of national identity appear precisely in the first years of school, a period in which the children, as different as they are, establish spiritual connections whose bright memory grows with the passing of time. Of course, this process of solidarity depends a lot on the qualities of the first teacher, on his vocation. That is the explanation for the fact that our great writers, artists and scientists always brought homage, at the height of their glory, to their dear teachers who knew how to cultivate, in time, confidence in themselves irrespective of temporary conditions.The much-invoked education system reform, restarted every time by each Education Minister, has finally reached a positive factor: school starting at the age of 6. Decision-making factors put a lot of “verbal emphasis” on this issue. But their superficiality is pointed out precisely by the “unforeseen” events that occurred in the meantime: the inexact knowledge of the number of children that will sign up for the “preparatory class”; the poor early preparation of extra space, of the necessary number of teachers with proper training, of schoolbooks etc. All these are elementary requirements and hence strictly necessary for the success of an action of this kind. But this is precisely where the education system’s leadership factors got bogged down. And they disoriented the parents up to the stage in which they are now hesitating between signing up their 6-year-olds to kindergartens or to schools. It’s a hesitation in which government members see the expression of “authentic democracy.” The discriminations through which Romania is sometimes treated as the “scapegoat” within the EU are based on such domestic contradictions in particular. Treated by those who know how to jubilate on account of “the vital importance of our knowledge.” Even when Romania’s children make a name for themselves at international school Olympiads, while those of our accusers remain illustriously anonymous. Irrespective of such discriminations and of the difficulties generated by the false hierarchies, the decisional factors in Romania have the supreme obligation of ensuring a unitary instruction and education of the highest quality for the young generations. Invoking “the European crisis that affects us too” is not justified here. In the interval between their pathetic statements Romanians politician should open a history book. Thus they will “discover” that in a far more difficult context, like the one in 1907, the year of the great peasants’ revolt in Romania, a Romanian minister of Spiru Haret’s stature managed to modernize the education system to match the highest European exigencies. Countries such as Japan and Germany managed to overcome the depression of their collapse after World War II precisely by putting the emphasis on education, on cultivating the necessary creative thinking for each member of society. Because the first and the most important pact that could be signed with the future is precisely within the education domain.

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