QUESTION 3 – IF I WERE THE MINISTRY OF EDUCATION
EDITORIAL – BY DR. MARIUS ENESCU; CONSTANTA; ROMANIA
I strongly advise those who read this article to read Sven Hasel’s books about war. They are tremendous when it comes to express how fear of death dehumanizes persons, soldiers for a fact, regardless the army they belong to. There is a particular book “The OGPU prison” I want to bring in view. In this book, the author presents the political prison during Stalin and the fact that prisoners were exterminated in horrible ways (looks like Hitler was not the only champion). The toilet of the prison was a number of boards stretching out across a huge dig-hole full of shit. The prisoners fit enough would succeed in having a good balance while satisfying their needs there; the unfit ones would stumble or slip and fall in. Nobody would rescue the fallen ones, they were left to drown in feces. I can hardly imagine a more terrifying way to die, and it still happens to children in my country, where we still have village schools with crap-house in the back of the yard, mostly made out of rotten wood. While not having current water and a decent
toilet is something we instinctively search for in Africa, we forget the remote rural areas of our own country. And those schools do not lack only toilets, they also miss living conditions, it often rains and gets cold inside, so wet and so cold kids cannot attend classes, and maybe they would like to, but they have no teachers. Sometimes, they find that teachers are replaced by unlucky high-school graduates that failed bachelor degree, or persons with different education, seeking rehabilitation after drug abuse or other felonies. With such education and no job instruction, they will be chased to the big city by hunger and for them it is goodbye college or university; they will take the streets.
Now if you think the city is much better, you are right because of one reason – the school is somewhere in reach by walking, whereas in the countryside it can be more than 10 miles away and there is not a school bus everywhere. There are village kids that must go to school like 10 km through a forest at night to be present early in the morning. They return in the afternoon, when it is already dark again. We have built over 2400 churches after the revolution (in the last 30 years) but no school and no hospital. It is true that priests did play teachers in the older times, but they were doing it with God and nation love in their soul. Now we cannot use them for teaching anymore; they crowd
to get in politics. Ever since older times (before WWI) a good and appreciated minister of Education – Spiru Haret by name – has given the basic parameters of the teaching process, including the times of year when kids should have holydays.
We have respected that for many years, actually even the communist did, after they did another good thing – general education and mandatory levels. Kids were compelled to finish high-school or a technical job-specialized school. Of course, they did not do it for people’s sake, but in order to have the time and the formal educational framework enabling them to indoctrinate new generations.
However, something worked – who was not daydreaming about higher universities could attend a technical school, learn a job and find a place to work which was more or less satisfactory, but it was giving individual independence. The newcomers, especially the socialist who have sleepless nights worrying for the people, keep on trying to leave their historic print, but they do not aim at the education curriculum or the level of science that should be reached. No, they want to move the date when school starts or ends every year and every moron that becomes a minister wants to change something so that is the best they do. Or they move in/out some exams. The result is total mayhem – nobody knows for sure when school or vacation starts – sometimes before September 15th , sometimes after. We have 65% functionally illiterate graduates, lousy results at the PISA tests, brats that do fashion trends in National Colleges where they entered with parent’s money. The result is that the brat remains stupid and doesn’t take the bachelor degree, but the college level and fame is going down and destroyed by this mediocrity avalanche. Everybody wants quick results and the best only, so we can become all of us doctors, lawyers, computer scientists or anything that pays good. Time and work are out of the question; the parents like thinking their kids have a slot where you put science in by a memory stick. Only the kids use it somehow else – they do not put any memory stick but joints with Mary Jane, instead of education they drink energy drinks that kill them in combination with the snow they sniff. Teachers are unable to impose themselves, because the science they know is boring and students do not want to hear it. They still have miserable salaries and students defy them with their muscle cars in the school parking. Consequently, they generalized the private lesson system, which at least brings them some money considered illegal, although they work for it. The general status is inertial and boredom. There is no spark, no interest in whatever they do – teachers and students alike. We could say there is no hope, but we have some exceptions. We keep on
hearing about students who won national or international contests in Mathematics, Physics, Languages, Biology and so on. Take for example, the kids from the astronomy research in “Traian” high school in Constanta that Radiometafora wrote about. They got First Prize in a competition of space design organized by NASA and the NSS, when we have not enough airplanes in Romania, much less rockets. How they do it, ask the teachers, but we have them. And these kids do not get from our society the money they need to go to the conference to get their prizes, not to mention situations when high-school managers tried to stop these activities and terrorized them, instead of helping them and taking pride in their results. This psychodrama of education must stop, and we have to redesign our system. Some of the main problems I heard of are:
- Lack of infrastructure – not enough schools
- Lack of teachers – the job is no longer attractive and renders no more satisfaction; the lack of personnel in the countryside turns graduation in sentence to poverty or work in remote places.
- Lack of a standardized system – a well known and stable curriculum/exam grid
- Education not linked to work market and national needs.
What we can do seems to be equally clear:
- Make a list of necessities – a multi-annual plan for enlarging existing schools and build some new ones;
- Make a reasonable count of the necessary personnel and adjust numbers in Universities;
- Increase overall salary of teachers and professors; find attractive conditions for the countryside to be able to keep them there;
- Decrease no of kids / classroom – already done
- Ensure funding for labs and school functionality; final decision on the existing schools;
- Ensure safe transport for school kids
- Reinstate job teaching technical schools – create a pool of specialists like: locksmith, plumbing, carpenter, electricians, tube/pipe installer , welder, vet technician, nurses, accountant, public clerk, road/car/train technicians, agricultural technicians, etc.
- Adjust predicted no of graduates to the challenge of real economy
- Make amends and offers to those that stick to their assignment; give them tax loan or allowance and enable monthly payment for at least 5 years.
- Create one or several recruitment hubs with state and private companies willing to sign some sort of agreement
- Create business hubs for state and private companies;
- Create some sort of early teaching of computer manipulation – young kids are very good and taking off their gadget time is not enough and not efficient; but do not let them forget handwriting.