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January 23, 2022

Anti-educational sectarianism

Modern democracy, with its many parties, has as fundamental objective the clash of opinions, of the ways of political and governmental action, which it merges into an optimal solution in favour of national interest. Without the existence of this strategic national objective, the freedom of democracy risks annulling itself by collapsing into libertinage. Especially in our times, not only dictatorship, but also libertinage, facile approach strangles the virtues of liberty and even of democracy. These truths pertain to current observation, to rational common sense, yet they are ever harder to find in the practice of governments. Thus, not only creation, as supreme reason for liberty, but especially small talk and the “profitable” migration from one party to another constitute the main “virtues” of many politicians. Such “virtues” act, either overtly or – mostly – covertly and transform the rational, benevolent intentions into their contrary.

From this perspective, Romania today offers a contradictory image, reflected especially by its education system that has been subject, during the last decades, to so many disfiguring reforms that today the corps of education personnel, target to most injustices with this regard, sees itself compelled to resort on daily basis to the so-called “obsolete methods” of teaching, in order to keep pupils focused on a fundamental ideal, rather than a temporary objective.
This tragic state of our education system comes from the fact that, while all politicians – without exception – call for a “structural reform” of education, each of them, when in power, canceled all the existing reforming actions and started an own version of reform. But, instead of bringing positive results, the respective reforms annulled each other.
This led to several tragicomic situations. This is just one example: a positive reforming intention is represented by the recent intention of the pertinent ministry to instate an evaluation exam meant to reflect the learning results of the pupils of the 2nd, 4th and 6th grades. Like many measures aimed at analysing a complex process, this is a well-intended decision. But, like so many of its kind, it is not correlated with a unitary system, so it is not complementary with the favourable intervention of the entire society. It is fragmented in a “self-contained” decision, isolated and ignoring the concrete conditions of its optimal enacting. It ignores the fact that the respective evaluation exam, given its normal complexity, implies the use by pupils of special copybooks with current questions and variants of answers which the examined children must reflect upon and from which they must choose the right answer. Many preparations were made in view of these exams at ministry, county and school levels, but one “detail” was forgotten: providing the respective examination copybooks!
This was the beginning of a row that threatens undermining all the positive aspects of the respective decision made by the ministry, meant to find and evince the possible “white spots” in pupils’ education, correlating them with the recovery measures necessary in the immediately following grades. Accusing the financial crisis, the ministry left upon county school inspectorates finding a solution to the problem of procuring the respective special copybooks for these examinations. Similarly, county school inspectorates transferred the issue to school principals who – given their chronic lack of funds – deferred it to parents’ committees. And, as poverty is most harshly felt at this level, it is no wonder that many parents, along with some teachers, protest against the respective evaluation exams, which they declare as useless. Will a salutary solution be found, that will serve national interest above all?
This is to be seen. But, until that final moment, let’s not forget that precisely such solutions, which are usually often forgotten and rediscovered at the last moment, come against the assumed objective, even if it is of strategic, national importance. Here is an even more telling example. More than a decade ago, professional schools were either disbanded, or transformed in technological high-schools – education units that provide students with the training necessary for learning a profession, while also allowing them to accede to higher education, like all baccalaureates. But even this good intention of the ministry turned into its opposite.
The very poor correlation between theoretical and practical education had as result the mass failure of the graduates of such institutions when they tried to pass the baccalaureate exam, with disastrous consequences for their effort to get a job later. Thus, most of them go from high schools directly into unemployment. Why this double failure? Because the absence of well-equipped laboratories, workshops, libraries and of necessary manuals, along with the inefficient performance of poorly paid teachers, plus the lack of systematic professional self-improvement, undermine the quality of school activity as a whole. The scientific side of the education provided to students, as well as the so-called job skills acquired in technological high-schools leaves much to be desired. This is why, at job fairs, employers only have one question: what practical experience do you have? The frequent lack of such experience makes it impossible to find a job.
This deficit also generates an even bigger setback for the entire Romanian society. Some foreign companies active in Romania organise training courses for young graduates who want to learn a job, and the best of trainees are taken as merchandise and hired in the factories operated abroad by these economic agents from Germany, Austria, Netherlands etc. Thus – from the same countries vocally opposing the accession of Romania to the Schengen Zone under the pretext that the eventual Romanian emigration will “invade” their labour market. This kind of perfidy contributes to transforming Romania into a semi-colonial land. Of course, with the often irresponsible contribution of Romanian (not Romania’s!) politicians, who accuse themselves also through the pretension of being first “European citizens,” and only then Romanians, if there is still place for this.

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