Poor funding, permanent changes in legislation, but also the lack of interest in the education system lead to enormous differences in results between urban and rural students, according to a European Commission report.

The education system does not have sufficient funding, claim the FOTO Inquam Photos trade unionists

According to new evaluations published by the European Commission, Romania has the weakest results at the European level in terms of education equity. And this, given that equity, along with the shortage of teaching staff, is among the main challenges that the European forums foresee in the coming period, in the effort to build the European Education Area.

The Education and Training Monitor – 2022, published by the European Commission together with these evaluations, also shows how far behind Romania remains compared to the rest of the EU countries, regarding the main European targets in the field of education.

Thus, when the Commission approved, the other day, a report on the progress made in order to achieve the European Education Area (EEA), it emphasized a new European indicator on equity in education, an indicator introduced because “the socio- economy has a huge effect on educational performance”. For this, the PISA assessment carried out by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) is taken into account, in which Romania recorded, together with Bulgaria, among the worst results at the European level, in the 2018 edition.

Based on current data, the new EU indicator on equity in education compares the share of underachievement at country level – in reading, mathematics and science (combined) in PISA 2018 – among 15-year-old pupils with the lowest socio- economic and the results of students in the upper quarter of the economic, social and cultural index, shows edupedu.ro. Romania and Bulgaria perform much worse than the other member countries and well below the European average: the country average is 30% in the case of Romania, in terms of students with poor results combined in mathematics, reading and science, compared with 13% in the case of the EU. And the poor result becomes visible in the conditions where the Commission’s report considers the situation problematic at the level of the entire EU, not only in Romania, although there are countries whose results indicate that there are solutions to strengthen equity without making compromises for the quality of education.

Dropout rates and poor achievement in reading, math, and science

The mentioned report was accompanied, at the time of its publication, by the 2022 edition of the EU Monitor on Education and Training. Romania’s country sheet shows that we are far behind the EU average when it comes to EU education goals. Specifically, at the European level, the average participation in early education is 93%, and in Romania 78.2% in 2021.

Then, in terms of poor results in reading, mathematics and science, Romania has percentages three times higher than the European target, i.e. 40-46%, compared to percentages below 15%. In addition, the school dropout rate in Romania is almost double compared to the EU average (15.3% compared to only 9.7%). It should be emphasized that this early school leaving rate is especially high among Roma students – only 22% of young Roma aged between 18-24 have finished high school. Finally, in Romania, the differences between school dropout rates between urban areas (4.5%) and rural areas (23.2%) are substantial.

How we are destroying our own education system

Marius Nistor, the president of the Federation of Trade Unions in Education “Spiru Haret”, claims that the results of the European study show the actual situation in the Romanian educational system and explained to “Adevărul” how this situation was reached. “We are talking about a total lack of interest in the education system which can be seen primarily in the low funding of schools, mainly in rural areas, but not only. Then the legislation is constantly changing. National Education Law no. 1/2011 is now unrecognizable, it is no longer related to the one originally approved. In addition, several schools have merged in the rural area, based on economic principles. As a result, children from hamlets, from isolated areas, became commuters at six or seven years old. Well, why would he even go to school? Maybe for an apple or a croissant with milk, but those aren’t really available anymore either. On the other hand, the differences in equipment are also important between rural and urban areas, and here we return to schools with toilets at the end of the yard, but also to the lack of elementary teaching materials. Finally, but not least, in rural areas we are generally talking about a lack of well-trained teachers. A quality teacher does not come to the countryside, because he would give at least a quarter of his salary on daily transport, on the commute”, says Marius Nistor.

The trade unionist states that if measures are not taken, the situation in the education system will deteriorate even more. “The financing problem must be solved, because otherwise in the future we will be without quality teachers even in the urban environment. A generational change is being prepared, so to speak, in the teaching staff, and in the current conditions, well-trained young people have nothing to do in education”, Marius Nistor pointed out.

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