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School year kicks off with political speeches and countless problems

The 2017-2018 school year has kicked off on Monday, with about 2.3 million pupils and kindergarten children from pre-university education starting the courses, but also with a lot of problems.

165,000 are primary school pupils and nearly 400,000 are kindergarten children.

However, thousands of pupils are starting the new school year without minimum hygiene conditions, in unauthorized schools, with no drinking water and with wooden latrines in the schoolyards, used both by the children and by the teachers.

In Suceava county for instance, only one in three schools has operating permits, while in a school in Cluj children risk falling down as the latrines are too large.

Therefore in Suceava, only three in ten schools in the county has received the sanitary operating permit for the new school year. Only 261 schools in 763 observe the legal provisions on the pupils’ health and safety. As a matter of fact, Suceava ranks first in the top of the counties with the less numerous schools that have the sanitary permits.

29 educational units in Cluj county hasn’t got the operating permit on the ground that they have latrines in the courtyards instead of toilets in the school buildings. For instance, the mayor of Recea Cristur village warned that pupils risk falling down in the latrine in the courtyard.

Pupils living in the districts in four cities in Bistrita-Nasaud county have worse school conditions than thousands of other pupils studying in the countryside. Unfortunately, local authorities don’t intend to revise the situation, preferring to close down the units than rehabilitating them.

On top of all, the issue of school books’ shortage remains among the top problems of the educational system. The 2017-2018 school year starts with the same old shortage for the 5th grade pupils who have no official school books for the main subjects.

The 2017-2018 school year has 167 working days (35 weeks), with the structuring comprising the first semester (September 11, 2017 — February 2, 2018) and the second semester (February 12, 2018 — June 15, 2018).

As usually, central authorities attended the school year opening in various educational units.

President Iohannis warns over the system’s shortages, slams the Gov’t

President Klaus Iohannis attended the opening at “Gheorghe Șincai” National College in Bucharest, stating that the Education Law must stop being a puzzle, whose pieces are continuously changing. He added that the school year start still surprises some.

Unfortunately, there are many pupils in Romnania who start the school year without school books or in buildings which don’t have the minimum standards. It seems that every time, the school year start takes many by surprise. Each Government shrugs its shoulders, pointing at the previous Government. But this way things are not getting better. In Romania in 2017 the solution seems to be getting back to ancient methods, such as the unique school book or the re-centralization in Bucharest of all things facing difficulties in the rest of the country,” Iohannis stated.

The Romanian President has slammed the way the Government is managing the situation in the education system, reminding some “ancient” methods such as the unique school book, while warning over the most serious problems of the Romanian school system: the growing number of the function illiterates graduating schools and the high dropout rate, one of the highest in the European Union. “We cannot afford that in our society (the illiteracy). Central authorities blaming the local ones and vice versa, government’s blaming one another or the school blaming the family and vice versa, are not helping at all. The success of the educational system is the only way a strong Romania can survive, while failure is sentencing us to involution,” he continued.

According to the head of state, too often major revisions are significantly restricting pupils to plan their professional track, while the legislative framwork still is confuse and blunt.

In retort, Education minister says that authorities haven’t been taken by surprise with the school year, and that he is surprised by the President’s criticism. Pop states that getting back to the unique school book doesn’t mean we go back to communism and moreover, he adds, not everything in the communism was bad.

I am surprised that the head of state comes up with such statements at the beginning of the school year, retorting to something that isn’t event at the level of an idea. The draft law on the school book is to enter the public debate and then it will follow its course in the Parliament,” the minister replied.

What else the Education minister says

In his turn, in a message addressed to teachers, pupils and parents, Education minister Liviu Pop stated that education was and will remain a major field, always high on the public agenda, yet avoiding to mention any of the system’s problems.

The minister told teachers it’s their mission to make pupils like learning, also telling them they should love and respect the pupils.

Addressing to pupils, Pop said he will fight to reduce and even cut out the system’s shortages, and told parents to help their children, but in a different way as s far.

Monitor them, but do not hedge them, love them, but do not suffocate them, help them, but do not do their homework entirely,” Pop said.

On the other hand, education trade unions have launched a new warning they will start protests of the Government doesn’t give “firm answer” on their demands to have their wages increased. The trade unionist gave the Executive a deadline until September 25, according to the president of the Federation of the Free Education Trade Unions, Simion Hancescu. The teachers’ greatest discontent are the low salaries.

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About Alina Grigoras Butu

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