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Fiddle while Rome is burning. The case of Wi-Fi Internet in Romanian schools

Do you know when you do something and suddenly your mind is taken back on a certain memory? Yes, like Proust’s involuntary memory… It happens to us frequently. For instance, the most recent involuntary memory I have got was one related to a piece news I was writing about on Tuesday, which was neither too important nor acute, but which perfectly fit in the national media current affairs topics.

It is about the Education minister’s announcement or pledge that Wi-Fi Internet will reign in all Romanian schools in the upcoming four years, ‘particularly’ in the countryside schools. While reporting on this statement, suddenly it hit me ….the involuntary memory, with my brain immediately galloping to other school-related stuff, yet on the opposite side of the issue. It was like that by just ‘smelling’ or better said ‘tracing’ the Education minister’ statements my mind got the stimulus to quickly run to a completely opposite thing, and instead of imagining the happiness of pupils having Wi-Fi Internet in classrooms, I instantly had a deja-vu on the shortcomings of the national state educational system: lack of basic infrastructure, lack of teachers, lack of money, concerning dropout rate, bushy, loaded and flighty curriculum, unappealing teaching lines and homework, not to mention the particular issues in the countryside: high dropout, outdoor toilets, lack of running water and sewage, difficult access to the school, and the list could easily go on.

But I stop here for fear I might have an involuntary memory chain reaction and bump against more bad stuff.

The point is that we all might have the same feeling by reading this piece of news, like ‘yeah…we got them all settled and all that we lacked was the Wi-Fi’. The good new ‘Wi-Fi’ in our live… for, isn’t that so, we must keep up with the technology like the rest of the world, the more is funded with state money and we are not going to pay a single penny from our pockets, like we used to do with the classroom’s furniture, desks, TV, schoolbooks, stationeries, toilet paper, cleaning and all the rest. And we also don’t need to worry about Wi-Fi being implemented for some IT companies will bid for that and it’s going to be legally perfect!

I am sure my daughter will be thrilled about wi-fi, while she will cabin along with some other 50 children in a small-size classroom to have her PE class, for her 40-year-old school in Bucharest HAS NO gymnasium, also known as gym hall.

Don’t take me wrong, I have nothing against Wi-Fi in schools, I think it’s a great idea and I am convinced that it will be used for noble educational purposes, but I would rather solve these plenty of stringent matters before dreaming to hi-tech school premises.

For I think we are not usually buy a chic sofa without having the house built first, well some probably really do that, but the general mindset is that first the roof, house and road are built, then the furniture bought.

So, unless we first build the roads, the schools, draft performing curricula or properly train teachers it’s useless to put tablets and Wi-Fi into children’s hands. Otherwise, we shall never get out of the “Fiddle while Rome is burning” logics.

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About Alina Grigoras Butu