What PISA 2012 Results Teach Romania About Education

On December 3, 2013, OECD released the PISA 2012 results for 65 participating countries and more than 510,000 students (15-year-olds) tested in reading, mathematics and science.

PISA-2012-(vol1)--Cover-(eng)-miniatureRomania barely ranked 45 out of 65 countries with Shanghai-China leading the top of best performing countries. PISA 2012 results show a multifaceted understanding of education systems and curricula. However, in the case of Romania, it points to several misunderstandings of what an education system should be built upon.

Unproductive New Education Law. In 2011, Romania passed a new law in education claiming that the new statute – never mind the fact that it was passed by the Government and lacked debate in Parliament, would bring a new competency-based approach to the existing education system and switch the focus from trainers to trainees. The then Minister of Education made it a matter of public discourse in saying that for too long, Romania had focused on trainers (!!!) rather than students.

Lack of financial investment. However, saying that you are focusing on trainees rather than trainers is pretty much saying that you have no finances to allot to trainers and hence, your focus on trainees is purely legal with absolutely no financial background and no certainty that trainers, deeply unfinanced may actually deliver their training. It’s not enough to talk about the digital divide and bring e-learning tablets and super-duper IT labs in rural, or for that matter urban areas, where children have proven for the second or third time in a row that they lack basic reading skills.

Success Stories. Some other countries chose to focus on trainers and investment being quite aware that you cannot expect results from trainees that depend on how trainers are trained and motivated themselves. These countries have also given some degree of laxity to their trainers so as to adapt their training to the needs of the class.

Counseling. Last but not least, education is not only about trainers, trainees and financial investments. It is also about moral and social investment. It’s also down to family. In a country that exports huge temporary workforce to Western Europe and has thousands of underage children with one or both parents abroad, more focus should be placed on children who struggle alone to make it in school. More focus should be placed on trainers and institutional forms of guidance and counseling which pretty much lack everywhere.

Metaphors. And yet again, we should stop talking about Romanian education excellence (even in legal jargon) when we are truly facing underage below than average performance with severe effects on tertiary education and workforce performance. We should stop using big words when we are barely used to understanding average words. Let us be more humble and things might look better next year.

About Cristina Popa

Cristina is a WordPress blogger who regularly writes or shares updates on media, public affairs and various topics of interest. You may follow her on Communication for Development WP blog or Twitter @CristinaPopa0
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3 Responses to What PISA 2012 Results Teach Romania About Education

  1. Adrian B says:

    I don’t get it what is wrong if you adapt a good educational system from western country’s. Maybe is to easy and they need something more complicate.

    • There is nothing wrong with adapting and using EU or international education curricula guidelines so long as you as a country have already made your national assessment studies to see what’s working and what is not. When you bring a new legal framework which lacks any assessment and any local-regional overview, yes, there may be a problem. A big one. It’s unrelated to smart-easy-complicate systems. Not all systems can be implemented unless there are national studies that point in that direction. When you don’t bother at all to make such assessment and just bring the draft into Parliament with no background study, then who guarantees it’s going to work? Any education law has long term effects that will be seen in some 5 to 6 years. So for now, we’re still reaping the benefits of the old law without having the remotest certainty that the new one is well grounded.

  2. Pingback: Why Romania is strong in Math and Informatics Olympiad, but week in PISA? - Page 2

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