Access to quality education
Romania has made efforts to shift from the didactic classroom methods of the Communist era to a more modern teaching philosophy suited to the challenges of the 21st century, including drawing up a new curriculum. However, OECD figures indicate that educational attainment in the country has actually declined since the Soviet era, mainly due to insufficient resources and other government priorities. Reading skills fell, and Romania found itself ranked among the worst-performing countries in the region for reading, maths and science.
As in other areas of children’s rights, education suffers from a rural/urban disparity, with better qualified and more proficient teaching staff typically working in cities and towns. University autonomy gives the Ministry of Education little influence on practices and standards. Teacher training involves a six-month course on pedagogy but no practical classroom experience, which does not equip teachers for their demanding role. The poor esteem in which the teaching profession is held – not to mention the low salaries – also deters many of the most able young graduates from pursuing a teaching career. Infrastructure, too, can be lacking; for example school labs may be poorly equipped.
There can also be other practical barriers to access. Poor parents may decide not to send their children to school due toembarrassment at their lack of appropriate clothing and footwear. Bus services taking children to school may lack funding for petrol or a driver. Dropout is another problem, though it is worse amongolder age groups. It is estimated that 300,000-400,000 children in Romania get little or no formal education.