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March 5, 2021

The priority of education

It is not ruled out that the series of political disputes that characterize the current stage of Romanian society, featuring nominations of and early appeals against the heads of judiciary structures or of structures from other sectors of activity, have as a main purpose the masking of the ever larger economic and social deficiencies, the ever lengthier street protests, strikes and disputes, including inter-ministerial and inter-county disputes. All political parties, formerly or currently in office, bear full responsibility for the instability that increasingly approaches a serious national crisis.

This is precisely the explanation for the fact that the politicians that are members of the opposition and of the ruling coalition consider themselves not opponents but outright enemies, this being the reason why they mutually attack each other with no consideration for the cruel reality in which Romania struggles.

The education system is the worst affected by these troubles. Enrolling children in the preparatory class for the next school year takes forever, featuring multiple inter-school and inter-family disputes. There are schools that have interrupted their activity not only because of the recent floods but also of the irresponsibility shown by some local mayors, as a result the children being forced to walk several kilometers per day to and from schools located in neighboring localities. Public opinion was recently appalled by the gesture of an irresponsible mayor that had the audacity to close down a school that was recently modernized with European funds. His reason? “Saving” approximately RON 800 from the mayoralty’s budget! A tragicomical argument being known that in such cases children are forced to walk all the way to a neighboring school. Why “walk” when politicians assure us that there are special school buses?

Because these means of transportation are increasingly absent.Lately their absence was caused by the floods that destroyed county roads and railroads. But, unfortunately, the lack of means of transportation for schoolchildren is also registered during normal weather conditions. Because the local mayors who, through a reckless action like chaotic decentralization, were allowed to administer schools, decide based on their whim many aspects in the life of schools. They either assume the right to exclusively use the cars meant for the transportation of pupils, or they decide on their own to reduce the school schedule or even to close down schools under the pretext of alleged local maladies. And since most of these local administration agents are deficient when it comes to literacy level, the effect of their decisions concerning the daily lives of the teaching staff and pupils are clear. This is precisely the explanation for the fact that the current stage of enrolling children for the preparatory class is frequently affected by the “whims” of these administrators too. Because of whom the education and health systems are in a continuous involution. It’s not by chance that the school dropout rate climbs to 20 per cent and the presence of pupils from rural areas in the baccalaureate exam and the admission exams for the tertiary system does not surpass a share of 2-3 per cent. The principle of administrative decentralization, useful and necessary in some domains, turns out to be catastrophic for the education and health systems. Because each of these domains has a unitary, organic character and precisely this attribute is sacrificed through decentralization. A decentralization on account of which Romania is threatened to have as many quality levels within the education and health systems as many local administrations it has. Yes, decentralization leads precisely to the sacrificing of the attributes of a system, of coherence, of organicity. And decentralization’s state of chaos stems also from the absurd politicization of school structures. With inspectors and school principals appointed or replaced based on sometimes exclusively political criteria. With mayors who are either aboulic or torn by sick ambitions because of which school problems are either ignored or replaced with political interests.In the practice of genuine democracies education, health and national defence represent domains of strategic importance and, consequently, stand above any partisan policy.

That’s how things should be here too. The only policy admitted here should be the policy of national interest, not that of the group, the latter being characteristic for the party clientele. Only in this way will the Romanian school manage to follow the reform programme that is unanimously demanded but frequently fragmented or stopped through party influences. Only with education ministers chosen not based on political criteria but from among the most prestigious tribunes of professorships, including members of the Romanian Academy, will the Romanian education system manage to train the country’s human resources at the highest level of European competitiveness. Only by depoliticizing the leadership structures of county school inspectorates, of schools and faculties, will the Romanian education system manage to follow its true vocation: that of being a laboratory of creative factors and a mould for our national identity. Thus, let us opt for an education system as a national state system, not a regional system. This is the first condition for the success of educational reforms forecast for a long time but many of which are still in the stage of drafts. This is the first demand for the correct and full application of the laws that hold a great deal of significance for the education system but that today wear the seal of partisan interests and are not respected. Especially today when political confrontations between the ruling coalition and the opposition are reaching critical mass. Why do we, Romanians, forget that in an authentic democracy the option for one political party programme or the other should not divide us, should not make us often irreconcilable opponents, but instead should bring us together under the incentive of a great national ideal, an ideal that should top every political party’s programme?

The priority given to the education system is today the first of the conditions needed for Romania to become an example of dignity and solidarity for the whole of the EU.

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