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March 5, 2021

New school year, a painful start

The beginning of school should truly be a national celebration. A heartfelt moment of joy, when our children, nicely dressed, wearing their schoolbags on their backs and holding flowers in their hands, should attend the school opening events. And, while at these events, they should be accompanied by their parents or grandparents, so that the moments of these wonderful reunions should be preserved in everybody’s mind. Because each of these national celebrations represents, subliminally, an opportunity to pay our respects to the aspirations Romanians always nurtured by studying, by going to school, by the wisdom each generation carefully transmitted to their young ones. Remembering and expressing humble gratitude to the fabulous teachers, who were never rewarded according to their value, for granting us ownership of the Romanian language and arousing our national conscience should be a gesture we also apply on all of today’s great teachers.

Some of whom have reached tremendous successes by the simple, but increasingly hand to find attitude of self-sacrifice.
Unfortunately, such national celebration is hardly possible today, as many school buildings, that are supposed to host our children’s learning activities, still look like a construction site, and repairs were interrupted for quite some time. Which is the frequently mentioned cause? The lack of funds. The lack of funds represents grounds of mutual accusations among local and national authorities. Although, throughout the years, even funds provided by the European Investment Bank, destined especially to school repairs in Romania, often remained unspent, due to the carelessness of the same local and national authorities. Moreover, many schools, mostly those in rural areas, will perform their duties without any sanitary authorisation. Although sanitary authorisation is indispensible in order to assure hygiene, it is not a compulsory condition (!). As a result of such paradox, these school buildings will continue their activity for another year without sanitary installations, without running water, and, in some cases, without electricity.
The dramatic social and political division that affects today’s society bears its most painful consequences especially upon our school system. Despite of the fact that they keep discussing on and on various draft laws aimed to fine parents who omit sending their children to school, the number of school dropouts reaches 20 per cent, which sets Romania back by 70 to 80 years. And all of this is due to the crushing general poverty encountered these days, as well as to the fact there are plenty of members of the local authorities lack proper schooling and adequate education. Left in the hands of these poorly qualified managers, as a result of chaotic decentralisation, the schools we are referring to have no chance to perform their activity at an efficient level, regardless of the quality of their technical and scientific equipment. The discontent of school staff is fully understandable from many points of view. First of all, extremely low wages and the painful insecurity of jobs must be mentioned. The closing of a number of schools and determining school children, as well as their teachers, to travel daily to a school in another settlement has unfortunately become a depressing fact of our days, also determined, in many cases, by the choices of local mayors who unknowingly support the “opinion” of a so-called “great leader” who claimed that “school creates morons”.
As a follow-up to statements like these, nobody is surprised by the deeds of local mayors who randomly decide the replacement of certain school managers merely because of the fact that these people dare to denounce the daily violations of the law by these authorities. And there is a growth in the number of such cases that shows that, under the circumstances of administrative decentralisation, scientific and didactic competence is threatened to become increasingly irrelevant. Even fair and good willing local decision makers represent a threat of turning the education system into a conglomerate of local and regional formulas, crushing the organic, consistent, nationally valid formula that represents of strong necessity of a schooling system. Electoral campaigns in Romania, as we may notice as we speak, generate more and more straightforward clashes, which are terrifying due to the extent of the mystifications and the mutual insults they are perpetrating. Many of these have a negative impact upon the education system. They affect especially education, although education should be a place of deepest solidarity and co-operation in joining creative forces in order to assure the best possible training for future generations. But, especially due to political pressure, the education process is becoming increasingly incoherent, and its flaws painfully impact young people. This chain of mutual political accusations is bound to degenerate into a rejection of moral, intellectual and social norms.
Within a solid democracy, which would be an essential requirement for a healthy social system, the inclination of citizens towards one or the other of the agendas promoted by political parties is not supposed to antagonize them, to turn them into irreconcilable enemies, as we frequently encounter today among Senators and Deputies. On the contrary, opinion divergences should reunite people under the imperative necessity of a synthesis, represented by a greater national ideal. But, given the fact that they are merely interested in their own condition, our politicians frequently miss out on the only thing that matters: our common national future. Therefore, the only politics acceptable within our education system should be the politics of our national interest, not the one defining a certain group, mostly represented by the customers of a given party.
Therefore, a completely apolitical education is the only option we must follow so that the Romanian schooling system of all levels could go through with the unanimously requested programme of reforms, which is often challenged and even stopped by the interference of party influences. Only Education Ministers appointed on criteria that would exclude political interest and take into account their efficiency as managers and their results as great teachers will be able to successfully lead Romanian education into preparing our country’s human resources at a high level of competitiveness, required at European level. Only by excluding political influences from within leading structures in schools and universities will Romanian education be able to prove its true value. Therefore, let’s promote and support a school system that would be completely apolitical! It is the primary condition for the success of educational reforms planned a long time ago but stagnating, mostly, at the level of drafts, and started all over again by every newly elected Government.
Nonetheless, at least for a few moments, let’s ignore today the painful situations we encounter at the reopening of our schools. Let’s take a look into the eyes of the children who enter the building of a school for the first time. And, beside the astonishment we read in their innocent eyes, let’s concentrate on the hope for a greater future. This is, on September 15, 2014, the greatest gift offered to all teachers, parents, grandparents, and, most of all, to the Romanian education.

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