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October 1, 2020

The psychological impact of the baccalaureate

The recent inauguration of the 2013-2014 school year is deeply marked, in a psychological way, by the fact that the baccalaureate exam, the most conclusive proof of the value of our entire pre-university education system, confirms – this time too – the collapse of all forms of school. The success rate in the first session of the exam, held in July, was 56.4 pc, but this relatively high percentage was also possible because the exam subjects were much easier than during previous years, differentiated based on the profile of high-schools. Nationwide, however, 56 high-schools had no student able to pass the baccalaureate. In the August session of the exam, out of more than 80,000 candidates, 12,000 did not come and only 20 pc passed it.
And there are more problems than these figures reveal. In many high-school, corruption was once again attested by the “subterfuges” operated at the baccalaureate, with teachers, parents and students involved in defrauding the results through bribes.

96 people from the Ialomita County are probed for frauds committed during the baccalaureate. Similar situations, which were sent in court, were found in other high-schools from Mangalia, Timisoara, Constanta, Bucharest and other zones. But this corruption does not exclusively result, as claimed by some “public voices,” from the fact that teachers are poorly paid. No, the corruption in the education system, no matter how large-scale it may be, does not touch the entire body of teachers and professors. Most of them are correct persons that guide themselves according to the principles of the professional and moral prestige. But the number of such teachers is on the decline and their places are taken by substitutes. Because, especially during the last decade, more than 65,000 teachers emigrated in search of jobs.
In an apparently paradoxical way, the corruption of some teachers is often stimulated by the organisational measures taken by government officials. The lack of financial funds has consequences not only for the education personnel, as it affects even the destiny of some high-schools. New legal provisions demand that the financing of a high-school is related to the number of students. Such provisions are a huge mistake because they diminish school exigency close to zero. If, based on these provisions, exigency would manifest normally, the respective high-school would risk having fewer and fewer students, until it eventually disappears. Why? Because, it is known, the interest not only of students, but also of parents for knowledge is on a permanent decline. Especially because most high-school graduates engross the ranks of jobless, and also because Romania’s richest people, the multi-billionaires who got wealthy overnight, are not very educated persons. On the contrary! And then, why being educated? – wonder both parents and students?
Confronted by such negative realities, our rulers only “adapt to the environment.” They do not have the courage and dignity of measures aimed at increasing the school exigency and instead play all kind of political games only favourable to their own electoral campaigns. For example, they operate unnatural differentiations among school disciplines, with a more conjectural than scientific status. But, at the same time, they must not exceed a certain number of classes per week, in order not to overburden pupils. Thus, they resort to some anti-education, even anti-national formulas. For example, they reduce the number of classes of Romanian Language and Literature or History of Romanians. Today, only one hour is allocated per week to the teaching of Romanian history, while in countries like Germany, UK a.o. national history is allocated 3 hours each week.
The poor results at the baccalaureate also pertain to the present economic, political and moral structure of our society. A society where the very notion of value is often mistaken, especially by young generations, for fraudulent or, at least, disputable success. Let’s not forget that our legislation does not make it mandatory for the members of Parliament, presidential aides, even ministers and their deputies to have the highest general and specific education background. This allows some of our rulers to emphatically say that “school produces morons.” Here, the truth is valid only in the case of those who made such remarks. At the opposite end is the categorical truth that the Romanian school can produce, not only once, authentic values. International school olympiads are often dominated by the successes of young Romanians, while baccalaureate graduates who win contests for scholarships in western universities are admirable youths, respected by foreigners. But not by Romanian politicians. Because of this, after finishing their higher education, many of these valuable young people are forced to emigrate to the West from a country with high unemployment rates. The perspective of unemployment, poverty corruption and the arrogance of the political clientele, the multiple acts of social-economic discrimination fuel a state of mind that is less and less favourable to education. This explains the fact that school abandonment and illiteracy are on the rise. The current figure is 20 pc. Plus the educational gap between town and village. In rural areas, baccalaureate graduates are incomparably fewer than at town, although almost 50 pc of Romania’s population lives at village. This sad reality is also illustrated by the results of the recent baccalaureate. The 56 high-schools where no student passed the exam this year have technological profiles, preferred by rural youths. This proves that reinvigorating the value of school education no longer depends exclusively on the recent initiatives of the pertinent minister. Although he cannot remain irresponsible. The issues of our education system must be first prevented, avoided and, second countered.
This means that the best solution for saving our whole education system belongs to the entire society. And the first phase in obtaining this large-scale solution is the elimination of the serious setbacks of social, moral, administrative, legal and especially political nature. The fierce dispute in favour of excessively individualised options undermines the comprehensive solutions. When some demand that the educational process is concentrated upon the pupil, and others on the teacher, they ignore that the best solution is synthesis, concentrated in the creative dialogue between teacher and pupil. When some make the apology of taxes, enforced in the state education as possible incentives for the schooling of pupils, while others praise the role of private education, the optimal solution is to create such an education system where the big social-economic differences of pupils are not present in the discriminatory status of children. The poor quality of school education must be urgently dealt with and improved, instead of masking it – like it happens now – with various conciliatory formulas.
The results of the baccalaureate are only the correct reflection of the critical phase Romania reached today. Thus, the return to a normal education system must begin from the level of state organisation.

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