Romanian minister prepares education reform
Minister Ecaterina Andronescu has been announcing several changes for the education system, including a shorter winter vacation, fewer school hours, and new dates for the national exams.
The minister said in an interview with local Realitatea.net that one of the changes is aimed at shortening the winter vacation and at changing the structure of the school year semesters. She believes the winter vacation is too long and the way the school year is structured at the moment confuses the children.
“In my opinion, this vacation is too long. Or, if we keep it this way, then we should try to close the semester with this vacation so that children start a new semester after the first winter break. Because otherwise we confuse them,” Ecaterina Andronescu said.
This school year, the students had a first winter break in the period December 22 – January 13, and they will have another one between February 2 and February 10. The first semester ends on February 1, when the second winter vacation begins. This means that the students return to school in mid-January, continue the first semester for three weeks, and then go on vacation again, starting early February.
The minister wants to change that, so that the first semester ends when the first vacation begins, in December. She also wants to shorten this winter break, from three to two weeks, and take the vacation in February out of the school calendar. Thus, the students would only have one winter vacation, and then other breaks in spring and summer.
This re-organization of the school year would also mean that the National Evaluation exam for eighth grade students and the Baccalaureate exam for the high school graduates could be organized earlier.
Ecaterina Andronescu also talked about reducing the number of school hours. According to her, the number of school hours goes up to around 34 per week for secondary school students, while high school students have 39-40 school hours per week. As she believes this is too much, the minister wants to cut the weekly school hours to an average of 20 for the primary school, 25 for middle school, and 30 for high school.
These changes would apply to the 2019-2020 school year and the minister said they would all be put up for public debate.
At the end of last week, the education minister also announced that she would want to change the legal provisions on repeating the year in primary school. More precisely, teachers could also decide that children in the first, second and third grades should repeat the year, just as it happens in higher grades, where students who don’t manage to end the school year with passing grades have to repeat the entire year.
“Students up to the third grade can’t repeat the year, but I think we need to rethink that because look where this has taken us: we get to the eighth grade and we find children who can’t write well, can’t calculate and 36% don’t manage to get the minimum passing grade at the national evaluation,” Andronescu said at local TV station Digi24, according to Mediafax.
Ecaterina Andronescu took over the education minister position in November 2018, after the former minister resigned. She is a member of the ruling Social Democratic Party (PSD), and served as education minister three times before between 2000 and 2003 (in the Adrian Nastase cabinet), between December 2008 and October 2009 (in the Emil Boc cabinet), and from July until December 2012 (in the Victor Ponta cabinet). One of her most controversial decisions was to abolish arts and crafts schools in Romania.
Irina Marica, firstname.lastname@example.org
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