Free education costs …


… in Romania


Education in Romania is based on a tuition-free, egalitarian system. This means that public education is free and it is ensured by the Constitution in Article 32 that states: „State education shall be free, according to the law. The State shall grant social scholarships to children coming from disadvantaged families and to those institutionalized, as stipulated by the law.” It is also ensured by the Law Education in force (no. 84/1995 with its amendments to Article 7 paragraph 1), but in reality parents and students experiences are very different regarding this mater. Education is regulated and enforced by the Ministry of Education and Research. Each step has its own form of organization and is subject to different laws and directives. The 1991 Constitution of Romania was adopted on the 21th of November 1991. It was approved in a referendum on the 8th of December and introduced on the same day. It remains the current fundamental law that establishes the structure of the government of Romania, the rights and obligations of the country’s citizens, and its mode of passing laws. It stands as the basis of the legitimacy of the Romanian government. The Constitution of Romania also declares in Article 7 that: „No one is above the law” So how can a teacher who is there to educate and give a good example not obey the law? Misinform parents as well as students and choose to collect illegally big amounts of money.

Apple core

Apple core

The fact that in Romania parents pay for the education of their children which is “free” is considered normal. Fundraising in schools is collected each semester for: school supplies and educational material, chalk and sponges, security reasons and even renovation of classrooms that violate not only political and public policy documents, but especially the Constitution, state laws and obligations assumed by our country internationally. Not only that teacher commits tax evasion by recurring to such matters, they never give a reset or a legal document to prove that the collected money was used for the schools benefit and not for personal matters. Of course the logical explanation to this would be, you cannot have a legal document of something that is illegal in the first place that would be another crime. Still this is a huge problem in our country and has only a small possibility to change.

There are five types of high schools in Romania allowing access to university, based on the type of education offered and their academic performance. These are: National College (Colegiu Naţional) — the most prestigious, Military College (Colegiu Militar), Economic College or Technical College, Standard High School (Liceu), A group of schools (Grup Şcolar). I choose one of the most prestigious ones located in Brasov. The school regulation of the „Áprily Lajos” National College, clearly states that students are entitled to free public education. This regulation is signed by each student attending the school at the beginning of the year. Students who are members of this educational institution’s can enjoy tuition free classes, extracurricular activities, school programs approved by the regulation of the school that is supervised by teachers or under their guidance. They can also have access to any of the school’s equipment for free. Pursuant to Law No. 1995/84 for some activities the school has the right to impose cash contributions to the students. These activities aren’t mandatory and can be attended only if parental permission is granted and if it is supervised by teachers.

Currently there are 753 students attending this institution and 50 lei is collected from them each semester for the school fundraising. The parents have to pay 100 lei each year for their children’s education that is officially „free” of any charge. 100 lei don’t seem too much, but if we start counting we realise that 75300 lei is collected each year by teachers. Studies show that more than 44,59% of them never get a reset for their money. Many parents don’t even know that it isn’t mandatory to pay the school any money at all. The main reason for this is because communication between parents and teachers is minimal. Usually students and parents have no decision-making powers in the running of the high school, and school councils are rare. All administrative decisions are taken by one of the principles.

A spokesperson from ISJ Maramures, Pavel Filips declares in a video that even if the fundraising in high schools are illegal and considered tax evasion, they still are collected by the teachers and headmasters of many schools. The main reason for this is because the schools need the money for renovations and school supplies. Pavel Filips tells the media that the Parent’s Association can collect money legally and said that these sums of money are considered donations only given by parents who volunteered to help out the school. Later on the video three different students from the school were asked about the same situation. They declare that the teachers set the amount of money for the schools fundraising and announce in each class the date when it will be collected.

If the amount of money is set and each student is expected to contribute and the teachers collect the money that means it is no longer a donation that is managed by the Parent’s Association. Teachers may even risk losing their jobs if someone reports this crime to the authorities. They would be found guilty of tax evasion, fraud and would have their contract with the school permanently terminated. The Minister of Education Remus Pricopie also declared in a press conference that if teachers are chough taking money from student it is considered being illegal and a serious violation of the Constitution that could have serious consequences.

Taking into consideration press releases we are faced with the harsh reality that such cases are real and are happening all over our country right in this very moment. In many cases we can se how news articles try to prove that this is true and how this huge problem effects our educational system. What should they really focus on is how to put an end to it. The government should start taking measure by eliminating „hidden costs” and not force the parents to pay so their children could get educated in better conditions. This of course in the case that the money collected is used to renovate the school, buying better equipment for the classrooms and don’t end up in the pockets of the teachers. Which unfortunatly happens in many cases. Not giving any reset the money can hardly be folowed and can be spent on anything by anybody. Taking in consideration the fact that large amounts of money add up the renovation and the benefits that students experience are very small.

This problem can be stopped only in the case if parents stick together and demand from the Government that a better financiering of schools takes place immediately, so techers wont have the reason to ask for money and don’t need to do anything illegal. In the same time students can still have a decent place where they can study and don’t lack anything that could help them become educated responsible adults.

By Széplaki Zita

Sources:

Laws:

Education Act, the Romanian Parliament adopts the following laws: Link: http://www.eed.usv.ro/~unisind/Legi_si_decrete/lege_inv.html

Constitution of Romania Title II Fundamental rights, freedoms and duties Article 16 and Article 32 Link: http://www.cdep.ro/pls/dic/site.page?id=371

Regulation:

The regulation of the „Áprily Lajos” National Colege: Link: http://www.aprilyfogimnazium.ro/HU/Documents.aspx

Press articles:

Article that proves parents don’t get a reset: Link: http://www.stradadebuzau.ro/fondul-clasei-si-fondul-scolii-ilegale-daca-sunt-colectate-de-profesori/

Article about the Ministry of Education that intends to award legal aspect for illegalitys regardin students wrights: Link: http://www.procuratura.md/md/com/1211/1/4577/

Article about the Minster of Education Remus Pricopie and his declaration that collecting money in schools is illegal: Link: http://www.agerpres.ro/media/index.php/social/item/222998-Remus-Pricopie-Este-frauda-cand-profesorii-strang-bani-pentru-fondul-scolii.html

Article about parents protesting againt paying money to schools: Link: http://www.pandurul.ro/Investigatii/2013-02-18/Tata+a+trei+copii,+se+lupta+sa+declare+ilegal+%E2%80%9Efondul+clasei%E2%80%9D

Link to the video:

Pavel Filips http://www.emaramures.ro/Video-Maramures/16373/VIDEO-EVAZIUNE-FISCALA-Desi-sunt-ilegale-fondurile-clasei-sau-scolii-sunt-obligatorii-in-continuare-in-unitatile-de-invatamant-din-Maramures

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