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January 28, 2022

Why education reforms fail to put an end to school dropout in Romania

The school dropout rate in Romania continues to be at a worrying level, a level that has remained stable in recent years in spite of education reforms and of all those who took over the Education Ministry’s portfolio. Romania plans to reduce the school dropout rate among secondary education graduates by 7 per cent, from 18.1 per cent to 11.3 per cent in 2020. In this context, the current Education Minister has taken the first measures.

“We are registering a major loss at the end of the 8th grade. Here I’m almost feeling physical pain. Why? The child graduates the 8th grade in a rural area, living with his parents, but has to go to high school and his family has no resources. Almost 25 per cent of these children drop out and they are lost almost for good. Looking at what is going on in the international praxis too, looking at the need for technical education, wouldn’t it be interesting to think twice and take a decision on whether mandatory education should end at the 9th grade? This is just a scenario; it was reality at some point before. The 9th grade should remain there, in his community. When he graduates the 9th grade, the child has the proper age to sign an apprenticeship contract, manages to join a meaningful dual system. And we manage to make the dual system very similar to the dual system seen in powerful countries such as Germany, Austria. It would help us a lot.

Sure, I have a brief tenure, I don’t plan to change, I don’t plan to confuse, but I do plan to raise topics,” Education Minister Adrian Curaj stated, presenting his solution for the lowering of the school dropout rate.

According to Eurostat data, in 2005, 19.6 per cent of Romanians of the 18-24 age group had graduated the secondary education cycle at most and were not enrolled in any other form of education. In fact, in the last ten years this percentage has varied only slightly, from 16 per cent in 2009, to 19.3 per cent in 2010, 17.8 per cent in 2012, and 18.1 per cent in 2014, ‘Romania Libera’ informs. This shows that the school dropout rate of the last ten years did not depend on reforms, stabilizing at around 18 per cent, with slight variations. Romania fares better only compared to very few other EU member states: for the same age group, the school dropout rate is higher only in Spain (23 per cent) and Iceland (20 per cent).

Lower school dropout rates are registered in the United Kingdom (11.8 per cent), Slovakia (6 per cent), Slovenia (4 per cent), Poland (5 per cent), Hungary (11 per cent), Italy (15 per cent), Greece (9 per cent), Bulgaria (12 per cent).

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