Access to a teaching career should be based on personal merits, with emphasis on recruiting the best graduates of higher education, the construction of additional crèches and regaining credibility of doctoral studies – these are some of the proposals in “Educated Romania,” a project initiated by the President of Romania and released on Wednesday for public discussion.
The “Educated Romania” project includes seven reports identified as priority: “Teaching career”, “Equity in the educational system,” “Professionalisation of educational management,” “Quality vocational and technical education,” “Autonomy, quality and internationalisation in higher education,” “Early education affordable to all,” “Assessing students.”
The document includes a vision and a strategy at the horizon of year 2030 that includes desiderata, targets and concrete objectives, proposing two alternative scenarios for structuring the educational system. Both scenarios have in common more flexible transitions between cycles, additional options for the youngsters in the vocational education system, the development of the dual type of education and also, at the same time, foresee an increasing role of the counselors and educational portfolios, which become operational.
In the “Teaching career” chapter, the document says that a major emphasis in early training should be placed on practice, and the teaching staff should have access to continuous training programmes that contribute to their specialisation in areas that are crucial to the education system as a whole.
Under the heading “Equity in the educational system” additional support for children at risk of abandonment is being sought through remedial educational measures, scholarships and services, family support and counseling. It is recommended that bridging quality gaps among schools should be achieved by providing additional resources to schools located in disadvantaged areas.
As far as improving educational management is concerned, the project recommends organising dedicated training programmes for educational managers, consulting pupils, students and employers when making important decisions for schools or universities. In addition, young people should be represented in school councils/senates to a larger proportion.
At the same time, the extension of vocational training to tertiary education in order to meet the increasing level of technology in industry and services and the development of dual education, which must continue in the areas where this is possible, is mentioned in the chapter on vocational and technical education.
As for higher education, regaining credibility of doctoral studies is being sought by assessing the quality of doctoral training, eliminating plagiarism with the aid of software, providing research ethics classes, as well as by diversifying the mission of universities needed to allow a performance assessment more tailored to the individuality of each higher education institution.
As far as early education goes, additional crèches are recommended to give all children a chance to harmonious cognitive, emotional and social development, and to allow parents to reconcile work and family life, along with better training of tertiary level educators and puericulturists.
The assessment chapter provides for the results of assessments being used to make remedial interventions in schools with poor results. Each child should enjoy an educational portfolio that includes all elements of progress in academic and developmental environments on all relevant dimensions, and transparency, as well as fairness in assessment in higher education should be secured, including stepping up action to combat plagiarism.
The seven technical reports put forth short-term, medium and long-term objectives and measures. At the same time, they review the current state of play in the system.
The project also says adaptability of the system to external changes and to the trends of the future entails correlation between teaching practices in Romania and international trends and practices, while strictly respecting the principles of ethics and integrity.
Among the targets set for 2030 are: at least 30 percent of the 0-3 year old children being included in pre-school education; at least 95 percent of children aged 3-5 being included in pre-school education; ranking in the top 30 world countries in PISA tests; at least 80 percent success rate of tests at the end of the secondary education and 75 percent success rate of the Baccalaureate exam in the total school population and designing policies aimed at reducing the number of schools with success rates lower than 50 percent.
The document submitted to public discussion sets forth two scenarios for structuring the education system. Both scenarios have more flexible transitions between cycles, additional options for young people in vocational education, dual-level education, and an increased role of school counselors and educational portfolios.
“Educated Romania” is a national project initiated by President of Romania Klaus Iohannis meant to support the re-establishment of society on values, the development of a culture of success based on performance, hard work, talent, honesty and integrity.
The Presidential Administration has carried out an ample public debate on education in Romania, the first two stages of which took place in 2016 and 2018. At the end of these three years there was a country vision with related objectives for education and research in Romania for the next 12 years (2018-2030), and a series of public policy proposals on the themes identified as priorities by the project.
President Iohannis: ‘Educated Romania’ – strategic project; it’s not my electoral programme
President Klaus Iohannis stated on Wednesday at the Cotroceni Presidential Palace that the “Educated Romania” project he initiated and whose results were publicly debated, is a strategic one, underscoring that it is not just a political tale or his electoral programme.
“‘Educated Romania’ is a strategic project, that wants to shape, to create an education system for Romania of the 21st century, that wants to help politicians to come up with good educational policies, wants to help teachers to succeed in teaching so that they and the pupils, as well as the parents and employers be content. It is a project that wants to help the school principal to know how to manage his/her unit, in order to have good results. But what are the results that can be measured? Not even this response is not that simple to find. (…) ‘Educated Romania’ is not a draft law, so it’s not a simple recipe, it’s not just a political story, it’s not my electoral programme, ‘Educated Romania’ is our Romania, of all, for the generations to come,” Iohannis stated.
The President underscored that education is the basis of future generations.
“Any educated Romania is a successful Romania, a strong Romania, a prosperous Romania, a Romania that ranks well among nations. This is what we all want! Up until now, we have worked for this, approximately two years. Meanwhile, we have a good project, one can call it ‘a draft’ that we put up for debate,” the head of state said.
According to him, there are elites in education, but 40 percent of the gymnasium graduates are functionally illiterate, stressing that this is a big issue.
“20 percent of Romania’s children leave before graduating school. Where do they go? We don’t really know. These are children, whose chance for the future gets stolen. They are children, the majority, who get lost somewhere. Very few can be recovered. Thus, we have mixed results, so to speak. It’s not good! But, if we want to build a very solid system, we have to ask ourselves: what kind of training do we want to provide to our young generations? What are we to prepare them for? For life, yes, for a career, yes; for a profession, certainly. But what kind of profession? For the professions of the 20th century? We should train them for the professions of the 21st century, obviously, but what are they?,” Iohannis stated.
The head of state said that many professions will disappear in the future and, in this context, we have to be careful to pupils’ training.
“Analysis are needed, in-depth studies, [we need to be] very careful on how we design this system for the future and that is what ‘Educated Romania’ does. It’s not a story that sounds nice on television, then we go home and mind our business. It’s about what we do with Romania. This educational outcome will define tomorrow’s society. Tomorrow’s society will look according to how we educate young people. If we give them a serious education, oriented towards the future, we will have a performing Romania, if not, we will have a Romania without notable performances. (…) This project was initiated by me, together with my team, but this project is yours, it’s the pupils’s, the students’s, the teachers’s, it’s a project of the Romanian society, because if the responses were very different to the questions, legitimately, correctly, they all knew one thing: something must be done to improve the system and this aspect – that everyone understood from the beginning, they underscored the need for improvement – encourages us to go further,” Iohannis stated.
He showed that he wants a quality and flexible educational system.
“My ambition is that no child of Romania, no youngster of Romania gets left out. We must find solutions to integrate them all. Do you remember? There was, I believe two years ago, a Baccalaureate when the pass rate was half. Such a thing is a national catastrophe and it is the worst mark for the current system. We cannot afford to lose any children in Romania. This is what I want with the ‘Educated Romania’ project,” Iohannis mentioned.
The head of state presented several proposals of the project.
“Developing a high-performance professional education system. For years we have been talking about dual education, professional education, a training based on the interest, the capacity, this is what our private environment expects, it expects a serious diversification and training quality, from the craftsmen to the engineer or the IT specialist We propose increasing international connectivity, higher education, exchange of ideas We do not want to isolate ourselves, we want to be connected to the European system, to the international system, to expand access to early education, meaning nurseries, kindergartens, for as many children as possible from an early age. This has two essential issues: one – these children are better prepared for school; two – allow their parents to go to work. Rethinking the assessment of pupils and students: the assessment we use is almost at the level of the, I don’t know, ’60s, ’70s, we give them marks, write them in the school register, we average out their marks, at the end of the year we make statistics, papers over papers, send them to the inspectorate, to the ministry. And? I believe that is not enough, this assessment must generate feedback for each pupil, for each parent, so that things be shaped as effective tools, not only for the assessment, but also for the correction, improvement of performance and – why not? – correcting the system. A lot of work. Developing a better teacher training system. In order to work, we need dedicated, well-trained, with notable results, well-respected in society and properly paid teachers, with a serious material basis tailored to the needs of a modern school,” Iohannis showed.
The President underscored that education is the basis of future generations.
The event was attended by three Secretaries of State with the Education Ministry, taking into account that Minister Ecaterina Andronescu was in Brussels.
During the event, also screened was the video supporting the “Educated Romania” project featuring actor Victor Rebengiuc, former gymnast Andreea Raducanu, actress Oana Pellea, philosopher Mihai Sora.
“Educated Romania” project will be debated for at least three months
President Klaus Iohannis on Wednesday announced that the “Educated Romania” project will be put up for public debate for three months, during which time there will be held consultations with several factors, including the political parties and the government members.
“Basically, today we are launching a full package for debate, a package that includes a vision, strategy and directions of action on seven topics that we established as priorities for education in Romania, considering the 2030 horizon. So, we are not talking here about a fast modification for next year. We want a system that works in perspective, a stable system, sustainable, performing. (…) the next three months will be for debate, consultations, discussions, with the parties, politicians, parliamentary committees and members of the government, former ministers, interested persons, trade unions, representatives of schools, pupils, students, professors and, in the end, we will know what we want with Romania,” said Iohannis at the launch of the results of the project “Educated Romania.”
He thanked all participants in the “Educated Romania” project and asked them to stay connected and involved.