The Romanian education system has been in deep crisis ever since the fall of the Communist regime in 1989. The frequent shifts in the post of Minister of Education and more than a dozen reforms of the school system have created uncertainty among teachers and pupils, while the country’s financial problems have eroded state education grants.
Communalization of the schools has meant that many schools in poor rural municipalities are in poor condition and that the study results make the students ill equipped to go out in the community. Teacher salaries are so low that many qualified teachers change jobs and are replaced by substitutes with lack of skills.
- COUNTRYAAH: Country facts of Romania, including geography profile, population statistics, and business data.
The school duty has been extended in two steps to ten years, for children between 6 and 16 years. After one year of compulsory preschool class, there is a four-year low school and five years in high school, where the teaching for the last two years is divided into different lines: theoretical, artistic and practical. The compulsory schooling must be free of charge. Children under the age of six can attend voluntary preschool. Almost all children start school, but many discontinue their studies after seven or eight years.
- Andyeducation: Introduction to education system in Romania, including compulsory schooling and higher education.
Schools for minorities
Continuing education, equivalent to high school, usually lasts for three, four years and has three main areas: academic subjects, technical subjects and special subjects, including trade, economics, care and education. Everyone can give access to higher education. In addition, there are two-year vocational secondary schools.
There are Hungarian, German and Ukrainian-speaking primary schools. The minorities who do not have access to their own schools are entitled to receive tuition in their mother tongue if there are enough students. In Transylvania there is a private university that teaches entirely in Hungarian and a state that conducts part of the teaching in Hungarian.
Special measures have been taken to provide more Roma children with education, but a majority of them are not expected to attend school. About half of the Roma are estimated to be illiterate.
Higher education with major shortcomings
Higher studies are conducted at more than 100 public and privately owned colleges and universities. Several of the private universities have gained a reputation for being “diploma factories”. They make big profits from providing high-quality teaching at high fees that many of the students have little chance of qualified work. State universities are marginally better.
In 2008, the first university students graduated in accordance with the European Bologna process, but both teachers and students have complained about lack of resources for the major changes this meant. To succeed, many students must work alongside the studies. It has not been often revealed that admission tests or exams have been passed with the help of bribes.
After 1989, the number of Romanians studying at a higher level rose rapidly, but a little into the 2000s the number began to decline. The number of university students almost halved from 2009 to 2013. In 2015, almost 620,000 Romanians were enrolled in higher education. There are more female students than male.
In 2012, the education system was shaken by two scandals. First, the envisaged new Minister of Education was forced to resign after it was revealed that a legal manual she had written was based on plagiarism. Shortly thereafter, the new Minister of Education was forced to resign following allegations of plagiarism in at least eight of his academic papers.
FACTS – EDUCATION
Proportion of children starting primary school
86.6 percent (2016)
Number of pupils per teacher in primary school
Reading and writing skills
98.6 percent (2011)
Public expenditure on education as a percentage of GDP
9.1 percent (2015)
Public expenditure on education as a percentage of the state budget
9.1 percent (2015)
The country’s highest politician is given freedom of charge for corruption
Parliament adopts a law that protects its members and the president against corruption charges as long as they remain in office. President Băsescu vetoes the law and returns it to Parliament, which also prepares a law that can pardon politicians who have already been convicted of corruption. The European Commission is strongly critical of the law, which it believes undermines the fight against corruption.
The President refuses to accept loan terms
President Băsescu refuses to sign a settlement between the Ponta government and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) lender because of a new fuel tax proposed by the government. According to the president, increased fuel prices lead to rising inflation, which impedes consumption with severe consequences for many companies. The Government emphasizes that IMF support is needed to avoid a serious economic crisis.
Part privatizations are carried out
The state sells 15 percent of the ownership interest in the gas company Romgaz. A month earlier, 10 percent of the nuclear producer Nuclearelectrica was sold. The partial privatizations are part of fulfilling the terms of a EUR 4 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the EU.
Prosecution against the Deputy Prime Minister
Romania’s Deputy Prime Minister Liviu Dragnea is being sued for trying to influence the outcome of the referendum on a judicial proceeding against President Băsescu (see July 2012). According to the Prosecutor’s Office, Dragnea tried with improper methods to get the turnout to exceed 50 percent, a requirement for the vote to be valid. The attempts to oust the president were unsuccessful.
Party leaders are sentenced to prison for fraud
Dan Voiculescu, founder of the Conservative Party (PC), is sentenced to five years in prison for fraud, money laundering and abuse of power. Ten other people are sentenced to prison in the same case. Voiculescu was a senator but resigned earlier in 2013.
Stray dogs can be killed
Parliament adopts a new law to allow loose dogs to be killed. The law is being enforced since a four-year-old was beaten to death by stray dogs in Bucharest, where there are estimated to be between 40,000 and 60,000 dogs without a home and owner.
New support loan from IMF and EU
The government agrees with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the EU on a new loan to Romania of the equivalent of EUR 4 billion. The loan runs for two years and will primarily be used to develop the energy and transport sectors.
Minister receives five years in prison for corruption
Transport Minister Relu Fenechiu is sentenced to five years in prison for corruption. He is convicted of selling used electrical equipment to a state-owned company but has paid as new material. According to the prosecutors, the deal has cost the state the equivalent of EUR 1.7 million. Fenechiu resigns after the verdict has fallen.
The requirement for turnout in referendums is lowered
A government proposal to reduce the requirement for voting participation from 50 percent to 30 percent for a referendum to be valid may be approved by the Constitutional Court. The constitutional amendment is criticized by a number of legal experts for eroding democracy.
Legal ambiguity regarding advocacy laws
The Constitutional Court confirms a previous ruling that the Supreme Court’s decision that defamation and defamation should no longer be punishable violates the Constitution. The rash creates confusion among the media about what is actually allowed to say. The European Security and Cooperation Organization, the OSCE, deplores the decision of the Constitutional Court and says it represents a setback in efforts to strengthen freedom of the press and opinion in Romania.
A financial inspection is formed
At the request of the lender IMF, the Ponta government sets up a financial inspection, which is commissioned to regulate and monitor the insurance industry, private pension funds and stock exchange.
New privatizations will be implemented
The government announces that the state will sell shares in a number of companies, including a shipyard, a chemical industry and a copper mine. The hope is to raise around EUR 400 million. Previous privatization attempts have often been delayed, partly because of difficulties in finding suitable buyers.
Romania is ordered to pay damages
The European Court of Justice orders Romania to pay a total of € 350,000 in damages to the relatives of 72 people killed in the city of Timişoara during the revolt against the Ceauşescu regime in 1989 (see Modern History). The Romanian state is being convicted of violating the European Convention on Human Rights by failing to investigate the deaths.
Năstase is unconditionally released
Former Prime Minister Adrian Năstase, similarly to Prime Minister Ponte’s mentor, is released conditionally after serving eight months of a two-year prison sentence for corruption. The reason for the penalty is that Năstase has shown good behavior in prison.
Review of the constitution begins
The government appoints a commission to review the constitution, in particular the role of the president and the country’s regional division.
Populist-owned TV channel gets the license revoked
The Radio and Television Authority cancels the license for the TV station OTV, which is owned by the MP and the leader of the populist PP-DD, Dan Diaconescu. The decision is justified by the fact that OTV has not paid the fines received by the station for unauthorized political advertising, incitement against ethnic groups and abusive reporting. The fines amount to more than the equivalent of one million euros. Diaconescu has described the fine as abuse of power and censorship.