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Bucharest
January 23, 2022
EDITORIAL

The brand of political hypocrisy

For almost two decades, the beginning of each school year has two completely different configurations in Romania. The first is the formal one, when the leaders of the system, from minister to the chiefs of county school inspectorates, provide assurance about the exemplary preparations and the success that will come starting with the very first day of the new school year. The second configuration is subsequent and semi-formal. After school begins, a large number of problems, even fundamental errors, come to surface. When confronted with them by the media, the same officials, optimistic before September 15, are forced to admit, after this date, that “some problems unfortunately do exist.” This “unfortunately” has become the landmark and mask of politicians’ activity, same from one governance to the other.
“Unfortunately,” it has just been learned that the Romanian education system no longer has a mandatory, tax-free duration (10 years), as stipulated by all the official documents.

Even the minister of Education recently informed us that “unfortunately” more than 10 pc of those who graduate the 8th grade refuse to pass into the 9th grade. But who these children are and why they refuse learning beyond the 8th grade, this we were not told. Because, in fact, this refusal does not come from their own wish, but from the difficult access to learning today. Plus, this school abandonment rate in excess of 10 pc refers only to the graduates of the 8th grade. But school abandonment begins much earlier, sometimes even in the primary school. And it appears especially in rural areas. Why? “Unfortunately” because of the poverty that plagues the 46 pc of Romanians who live in rural areas. Thus, “unfortunately,” school abandonment with its consequence – illiteracy – increase each year to unprecedented figures, reaching 20 pc today.
And “unfortunately” the present poverty that also hits the Romanian school is generated, above all, by the under financing of the education system. How can Romania, a member state of the EU, accede to a status equal to countries where the annual financing of Education reaches 10-12 pc of the GDP, when in our country this percentage oscillates around 3 pc? Here, in the under financing of the education system, lies the main cause of the collapse suffered by the Romanian school. The second cause, as serious as the first, is the chaotic decentralisation of the school system. Which equates to the very cancellation of the national character, absolutely necessary to the education system. The most prestigious scholars from everywhere share the opinion that the unity, continuity, progress, national solidarity and other similar attributes derive from Education. “The way school is, same will be the country!” – says a “simple” Romanian proverb. This seems to be ignored by the series of Education ministers, as conjectural factors, motivated not by vocation, but by the fierce fight between parties. Because of this, each minister of Education came with a “specific” formula of reforming the system.
“Unfortunately,” today all these “specific” phenomena are reunited by the fact that the decentralisation of the education system produces ever more chaos. Transferring the school institution from the authority of the national, unitary and organic system to that of local administrations is equivalent to splitting a whole into as many bits as local administrations exist in Romania. And this fragmentation is equivalent to as many quality levels of Education. And, implicitly, with a social discrimination that cannot be conceived in a state which leads itself by the rule of law. Above all, this discrimination comes against the national-unitary character of the Romanian state, as well as against the Romanian language which, these very days, is defined as “facultative language” in the schools from the so-called Szeklerland of Stalinist conception. In this region, ignored by politicians, the discrimination of Romanian children reaches tragic proportions by the very fact that they must go to Hungarian-language schools, or simply abandon school in order to preserve their nationality.
“Unfortunately,” such dramas and tragedies are ever more frequent today. As it is known, the “local elects” – especially the staff of mayor’s offices – often do not have a superior professional-scientific background. Hence the saying about someone who “signs like the mayor,” meaning without knowing what he signs. Corruption is widespread during electoral campaigns and “unfortunately” it acquires an undeserved precedence in the evaluation of schools by such “elects.” The “clan capitalism” existing here begins with “neglecting” or “appreciating” school exclusively based on the political affiliation of the school principal, if he is the protégé of the local mayor. In its turn, granting or denying social aid and merit incentives to pupils relies on the same “local biasing.” Even the merger of schools, which forces children to walk a long and dangerous road each day to the school of a neighbouring village, largely results from the same “clan preferences.”
“Unfortunately,” such politically-motivated “innovations” do not stop here. The decentralisation of education, with the cancellation of the unitary and organic character of the system, can be seen also in the process of assigning teachers to schools, in the wages they receive, down to the stage of discrimination. Many teachers who were victims of injustice took their cause in court, which rendered them justice with definitive and irrevocable verdicts, but the reparations were not made “unfortunately” because of the financial deficit, as rulers excuse themselves. Thus, “unfortunately” has become the standard expression of political hypocrisy in Romania (but not of the country). Each time when he is confronted with the accusations about the errors committed by governments, the Romanian politician promptly answers: “unfortunately, you are right, but in our first ruling programme we will achieve etc. etc.” Misfortune thus would belong only to the politicians in opposition, who held the power in the past, while the new rulers…
This way, the expression “unfortunately” became today the brand of political hypocrisy of all genres, undermining first the Education, as a pact concluded with the future.

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