Famous artist couple stirs homeschooling debate in Romania

A famous artist couple’s decision to pull their daughter from public school and take care of her education at home has ignited the first public debate about homeschooling in Romania.

Romanian actor Dragos Bucur and his wife Dana Nalbaru, a former vocalist in a popular local pop band, recently announced they decided to pull their daughter from the public school system and school her at home.

“I’ve realized that the education system, organized in groups of people who have to demonstrate in front of others how much they know and how much they’ve learned, is obsolete for the times we live in. I don’t think that learning is wrong, on the contrary, I think it’s essential to have a beautiful life. However, I think that the way in which children have to learn in school today produces a lot of frustration in their minds which destroys their inner beauty,” Dana Nalbaru wrote in a blog post.

“I wanted her not to lose this beauty, to let her develop at her own pace, to build up confidence in herself, to understand that she alone can exceed her limits, to learn to do in life what she really likes, to never be afraid to start over, to be independent, and to not let anyone dictate her path in life. I would like her not to be afraid to say no, to helps others and really enjoy life,” she added.

She also explained that this decision didn’t mean that she thought her child to be better than other children and was not intended to criticize the work of teachers. “I’m just saying that she didn’t adapt to the classic education system in a harmonious way and that our choice has to do with the way the system has negatively affected our child.”

“I’m convinced that this system (whatever this is) will change at some point, but I’m not willing to wait for this, so we prefer going our own path,” Dragos Bucur also wrote.

Dragos Bucur, Dana Nalbaru, and their daughter SofiaThe couple’s revelation, which came the same week that the school year started, has brought to light an underground phenomenon that has been slowly growing in Romania, but hasn’t reached public debate so far. While an increasing number of parents are unhappy with the local school system and would like to educate their children at home, the Romanian law doesn’t recognize homeschooling as a legal alternative for education.

Education minister Mircea Dumitru admitted that he didn’t know much about this system. “I don’t know very well how this system works in Romania today, but I know is started some time ago,” the minister said, according to Digi24 news station. He added that the system had both benefits and risks and that he would look more into the legal framework that regulates this system.

Former education officials, however, claim that the homeschooling system should not be recognized by the law in Romania because this would open the way for abuses against minors, such as religious indoctrination and forced labor. The officials’ reluctance to accept this system is also due to the fact that the state would have to pay the parents who decide to educate their children at home, which may determine poor families to turn to homeschooling just for the money.

The parents may decide to keep their children at home to work the land or help them with household chores and claim they are doing home schooling, according to former education minister Daniel Funeriu, who opposed the official recognition of homeschooling by the National Education Law in 2011. He thinks that the state hasn’t got the capacity to check how home schooling is done for each child.

“We must be aware that if we accept home schooling, we accept surgery on our society’s brain without anesthesia,” Funeriu wrote on his blog. He described homeschooling as social engineering and says that the best alternative to the public school system are private schools partly funded by the state.

Homeschooling is currently a rather isolated phenomenon in Romania due to the fact that the law doesn’t recognize it. However, a growing number of modern families revert to homeschooling trying to conduct their children’s education on other principles than those promoted by the school education system, social media debates show.

These families usually enroll their children in umbrella schools abroad, which provide a wide variety of online courses and conduct online evaluations. However, the difficult part is having the degrees obtained from these umbrella schools recognized in Romania, in case parents want their children to join the school system at a later stage, such as high school or university.

The state doesn’t have an official number of the children in Romania who are enrolled in umbrella-schools abroad, said Serban Iosifescu, the president of Romania’s Agency for Quality in the Pre-University Education, quoted by local Hotnews.ro.

However, the public television TVR claims that there are about 500 children home schooled in Romania.

Dragos Bucur, 39, is one of the most popular Romanian actors of his generation. He has played in award winning movies such as The Death of Mr. Lazarescu, Police, Adjective, and Dogs, and in other popular local productions such as the Good Guys (Baieti Buni) TV series. Dana Nalbaru, 39, was the lead singer of the local pop-dance band Hi-Q.

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(Text photo source: Dana Nalbaru on Facebook)

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