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April - 2005





Learning the hard way

Revamping education at nursery and post-graduate level, should help Romania get smarter, but until further funding arrives these reforms remain theoretical

Kindergarten reform to stop the rot in early age learning and a greater focus on research and development are the key targets of reform for the incoming administration. But teachers are complaining about a lack of funding and a system of bribes where kids pay for good marks at all levels and, in some cases, entry to universities.
Incoming minister of education Mircea Miclea aims to make the Romanian system consistent, professional and compatible with Europe. However Romanian education is poorly funded. 3.8 per cent of GDP is awarded to education and 0.27 per cent of GDP to the research field (compared to around five per cent for education and one per cent for research and development -R&D - in Hungary). Miclea aims to negotiate for a six per cent of the GDP funding for education and one per cent for R&D. “Studies show a clear connection between economic growth and investments in education and research. Singapore and Ireland owe their economical boom to this,” he adds.
Reform is necessary as, according to Miclea, no Romanian institutions are among the top 500 European universities in research. “Compared to Europe in the first three years of university level, Romania's situation is good. But MAs are very poor, strengthening them will increase our chances of having a better level of research, because future doctoral fellows and researchers are selected from among MA graduates.”
Another step is a Government decision to introduce the Bachelor of Arts (BA) programme of three years and then the Master of Arts (MA) of a further two years, which should start from this academic year, if the universities get their act together in time.
A further move is to narrow the BA in order, believes Miclea, to increase a graduate's chances of a job. “A History faculty now offers first degrees in Archaeology, History of Art and Museology. The question is: how many archaeologists do we need? With such a narrow specialism, a graduate's choices on the labour market diminish. We want to offer them a degree in History and after this they can choose to specialise in Archaeology or History of Art.”
But whether a qualification in History or History of Art will make a difference for a graduate trying to gain a job in an energy and agriculturally-rich nation with a shortage of financial managers and customer service specialists remains to be seen.
As we went to press the Ministry was due to hand in to Parliament a law aimed at determining quality in education and linking this to funding. “Now university funding is input-based, A university receives cash in relation to the number of students it enrols. We need to apply a system of financing which is based on output also. That is: the first part of money is for the number of students an institution has, the second for the quality.”
A major criticism among teachers and students is bribery, with examples of illegal payments given to teachers to secure entry into university and a system of gifts handed to primary and secondary school teachers, such as cigarettes and whisky. One teacher complained to The Diplomat that: “I have yet to hear of a school inspectorate that, acting on a complaint by a school, has found a teacher guilty of corruption and fired or sanctioned them.”
Miclea assures that reform is on the way. “We need to revise the law and the status of the teaching staff and to increase penalties for those who accept bribery. At the moment, the law is mild.”
But one union does not see this is a problem. “The bribery cases happen by accident,” says Aurel Cornea, leader of the Free Unions Federation for Education. “I haven't heard of such things but, if there are cases, as we rehabilitate the system of evaluation the temptation won't exist anymore.”
The union does admit to the existence of 'extra tuition for payment' that some teachers give to students after school. “But this will vanish if the evaluation system improves,” says Cornea, who is also calling for an increase in wages and a change to the bonus system. At present teachers receive added payment based on their age and not on the quality of work. Changes in this latter sector would be a greater motivation for younger teachers to join the profession, he argues.
“Zero reforms have taken place in the Kindergarten process in the last 15 years,” adds Minister Miclea. “But the three to six year period is essential and major handicaps appear between these kids.”
The minister also estimates that if the state boosts the quality of pre-school years, the return on investment is up to seven-to-one. This is due to the perceived savings made by the state in not having to rehabilitate bad teaching at this crucial stage.



Where can one find international schooling in Bucharest?

Over these pages The Diplomat gives a directory of the options available in the capital. Nearly all of schools are in the north of the city and focus on primary and secondary education (grades one to twelve), while most are newly established institutions in the last five years. It is a growing market and many schools feel they cannot contain the numbers of foreign and Romanian pupils struggling to win a paid place.

The Diplomat would also like to add that it is not in a position to recommend any of these schools as places to send children, but merely describing what they have to offer. The prices are for day pupils and are mostly less than a third of the price of private schools in, say, England, where annual costs as a day pupil for the City of London School for Girls is around 15,000 Euro, while costs per year for the UK's prestigious Eton College (as a boarder) are 32,335 Euro (although this does not include extras for music, boat club membership, fencing or tipping the domestic staff).





Sos. Pipera Tunari 196, Com.
Voluntari-Pipera, Jud. Ilfov.
Tel: 204.43.68
Director: Dr. Arnold Bieber.
Financing: A private, non-profit educational institution established in 1962 under US Embassy sponsorship and operating under the auspices of the US Embassy.
Learning environment: “The school provides a safe learning environment that encourages critical thinking and risk taking, and engenders a love of learning.”
Gender make-up: 52 per cent girls, 48 per cent boys.
National make-up: The top five are Romanian (27 per cent), American, Israeli, Korean and British. 41 others include: Canadian, Austrian, Pakistani, Dutch, Chinese, Japanese, Brazilian, Spanish, Turkish and Swiss.
Ages: Three to 18 or 19 (grade 12).
Pupils per class: A maximum of 20.
Annual fees: 4,080 up to 17,350 USD for high school students.
Last day of enrolment: Throughout the year.
Academic dates: Around 24 August to 17 June
Curriculum: American and International Baccalaureate programme.
Facilities: Two football fields, playground, open fields, gymnasiums, weight and fitness room, dance studio, canteen, two basketball courts and four tennis courts. Labs for Physics, Chemistry, Biology and elementary level. A 370-seat theatre for music and drama and an art studio over three rooms.
After school clubs: Chess, Karate and languages.
Languages: Romanian, French, Spanish and English. Formal classes begin in grade two. School times: 8:30 hrs. Early Childhood ends at 12:30. Up to grade 12 until 15:30. Wednesdays until 14:30.
Other info: The buildings were completed in 2001.


Tel: 232.56.57
Head of school: Jo Puddy Wells.
Financing: Self-supporting, through fees paid by the students.
Learning environment: “We offer a British curriculum respected all over the world.”
National make-up: 29 per cent are Romanians, the rest are from 35 different nationalities from, for example, Europe, USA, Australia, Japan and the Philippines.
Age range: Three to 13 years old.
Pupils: 150 pupils, ten to 13 per class.
Annual fees Years one to two: 7,730 Euro. Years three to six: 8,720 Euro. Years seven to nine: 9,420 Euro.
Last day of enrolment: All year long.
Academic dates: 1 September to 30 June.
Curriculum: United Kingdom National Curriculum.
After school clubs: Hockey, football, art (origami, photography), karate and climbing.
Languages: English, French, German, plus native language classes for Romanians, Greeks and Germans.
School times: 8.30-15.00 hrs.


Calea Dorobantilor 39, Sector one
Tel: 210.21.31,
CEO: Nassar Nassar.
Financing: Initially from cooperation between Nassar, the Embassy of Lebanon and the Lebanese community in 1995 and later from fees.
Learning environment: “An international environment created for kids from all countries.”
Gender make-up: A higher percentage of boys.
National make-up: 20 Romanians. Others from 17 countries, mostly Turkey (100), Syria and Iraq but also Canada, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Spain, USA, Germany and Egypt.
Age range: From first to 12th grade (around seven to 18 years).
Pupils: 550 students 30 kids to a class, with teacher and assistant.
Annual fees: From 2,500 USD to 3,500 USD.
Last day of enrolment: Starts in June, but up to September if places are free.
Academic dates: Around 15 September to 15 June.
Curriculum: At the end of the 12th grade students receive a Cambridge qualification from a UK-certified curriculum.
Facilities: Laboratories and a canteen.
After school clubs: Drawing clubs, basketball and football and some afternoon classes (for 50 USD per month) in dance, piano and karate.
Languages: All the classes are taught in English. French and Romanian are also learned. Students can learn their mother tongue. Foreign languages taught from the first year.
School times: 9:00 to 14:30 hrs
Other info: Students study religion in two groups: Muslim and Christian.


Str. Alexandru Constantinescu Nr. 61, sect. 1, Bucharest
Tel: 222.19.85
Head-teacher: Mishida Minoru.
How it is financed: From Japanese government and fees.
Learning environment: A small school targeted at Japanese and those interested in Japanese culture. Children have to speak Japanese.
Gender make-up: 60 per cent boys, 40 per cent girls.
National make-up: Japanese (16) and Romanian (4).
Age range: First to ninth grade.
Pupils: 20, one to five per class.
Annual fees: 3,120 Euro.
Last day of enrolment: 10 March, but also through the year.
Academic dates: 11 April 10 March (Japanese system).
Curriculum: Japanese system: Japanese, Maths, Science, Social Studies, English, Music, Fine Arts, PE, Technical and home economics.
Facilities: Basketball court.
After school clubs: Swimming in summer and autumn and skating in winter. In summer time, a tennis club.
Languages: Japanese, English.
School times: 8:45 to 15:45 hrs.
Other info: The school was founded in 1979. Inside, nobody wears shoes, only slippers, according to traditional Japanese custom. School meals not provided.


Str. Vasile Voiculescu Nr. 26, Sect. 3,
Headmaster: Gavin Huffmaster.
Financing: Tuition fees and donations from USA.
Learning environment: “A family atmosphere”.
Gender make-up: Close to half and half.
National make-up: American, Italian, Brazilian, Argentinian, Czech, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, South Americans, Nigerian but none entirely Romanian.
Age range: Five to 18 years old.
Pupils: 85 students, 8-12 students per class.
Annual fees: For business families: 6,000 USD, for missionary families: 3,000 USD. This autumn fees will change.
Last day of enrolment: 1 June, (but also during school year).
Academic dates: 25 August to 3 June.
Curriculum: American, a mixture of Christian and secular. Mathematics is non-Christian. Bible class is also taught every day and arts, drama and music twice a week.
Facilities: “We rent a Gym, a block away from the school HQ, for basketball, volleyball and soccer [football],” says Huffmaster.
After school clubs: Participates in football league with Bucharest orphanages, student council, musical worship group.
Languages: English, Romanian and French.
School times: 8:25 to 15:05 hrs.
Other info: Part of a non-profit Romanian foundation established in 1995, the school, opened in 1999, teaches Bible study from a protestant programme, but emphasises a basic interpretation of the scriptures.


Mihai Bravu no 428, Sector 3
Tel: 327.54.43
Headmaster: Hamdi Akyol.
Financing: Initially from Turkish businessmen in 1995, with the first two years operating without taxation, and now from fees.
Learning environment: “One of the best private schools in Bucharest, this school has second place among high schools in the international student olympics.”
Gender make-up: 34 per cent girls 66 per cent boys
National make-up: Most are Romanian. A handful of foreigners.
Age range: Fourth to the 12th grade.
Pupils: 147 in the high school. 51 at primary level. A maximum of 18 pupils per class.
Annual fees: 2,000 USD per year, but 53 per cent do not pay because of good exam results or winning competitions and Olympiads.
Last day of enrolment: June for high school. September for primary level. Students first need to pass English and general studies exams.
Academic dates: Around 15 September to 15 June.
Curriculum: Romanian.
Facilities: Laboratories and a canteen.
After school clubs: Journalism, theatre, computer studies, volleyball and handball.
Languages: Children are taught in English and Turkish. A compulsory language, chosen by the students, is Spanish.
School times: 8:00 to 14:15 hrs.


Str Av. Sanatescu Stefan, Nr. 19, sector one, Bucuresti
From September 2005: Poligrafiei, nr. 69-71, sector one Bucuresti
Tel: 224.77.04
Headmistress: Olivia Podobea.
Financing: Ileana Bivolaru is the owner, with the Asociation Scoala Europeana Bucuresti. Investment in the school for 2004-2005 is 150,000 USD.
Learning environment: “There are medium-sized classrooms, a space for playing, a large space for PE and an especially designed sports field.”
Gender make-up: 50 per cent boys, 50 per cent girls.
National make-up: All Romanian.
Age range: Grades one to four. From September 2005 grades five to eight.
Pupils: 33 in total, eight to 15 per class.
Annual fees: 2004-2005: 3,000 USD. 2005-2006: 3,300 Euro.
Last day of enrolment: 15 June.
Academic dates: 15 September to 30 June (15-30 June optional).
Curriculum: Romanian and English-compulsory curriculum decided by the school (half the compulsory timetable is in English).
Facilities: Laboratories, gymnasium, sports field, rented tennis ground and swimming pool 500m from the school.
After school clubs: European studies, tennis, dance, swimming, arts and crafts and PC Club.
Languages: English, Romanian, German (from age eight or nine) are compulsory. French and Spanish (from age nine or ten).
School times: 8:30 to 16:00 hrs.
Other info: Ecumenical religious classes. Piano lessons, drama and art workshops. Will move into new premises in September.


Iuliu Barsch 15, Sector 3,
Tel: 320.15.38
Headmaster: Roza Arsene Brumfeld.
Financing: Donations from the “Ronald S. Lauder Foundation”, fees and parents.
Learning environment: “Warm, based on close care to individuals' development, a lot of involvement in activities and project-based learning.”
Gender make-up: 60 per cent boys and 40 per cent girls.
National make-up: 75 per cent Romanian, also Israeli and British.
Ages: six - 16 years, grades one to eight.
Pupils: 144 pupils, around 20 per class.
Annual fees: 3,200 USD.
Last day of enrolment: 30 June and throughout the year.
Academic dates: Around 15 September to 15 June.
Curriculum: Includes Jewish studies and, in accordance with the Romanian Education Ministry, the US curriculum in English, Great Britain in literature and civic education teaching, sciences and maths. English language is the communication for activities outside school times.
Facilities: Gym, computers, science lab, language labs and a stage.
After school clubs: Orchestra, arts, drama, ballet, sports club, judo, IT and maths.
Languages: Romanian, Hebrew and English compulsory, also French, Spanish, Italian, German, Latin.
Times: 8:20-17:00 hrs or 8:00-16:00 hrs.
Other info: The school provides fruit and vegetables, meat and its own pastries. It was opened in 1998.


Address: Mihai Bravu street, no 428, Sector 3
Tel: 327.54.32
Headmaster: Fatih Goktas
Financing: Now from fees, but initially from Turkish businessmen.
Learning environment: “We are trying to get pupils together from all kind of nationalities to create an international atmosphere.”
Gender make-up: 60 per cent boys and 40 per cent girls
National make-up: 39 nationalities. 30 per cent Romanian. 70-75 children from embassies such as: Czech Republic, Iran, Turkey, Slovakia, Iraq, Hungary. Most are from Turkey, China and Nigeria.
Ages: First grade to 18 years old.
Number of pupils: 360. A maximum of 15 per class.
Annual fees: Primary school costs are 5,000 Euro and 7,000 Euro for secondary school, including breakfast, lunch and transportation.
Last day of enrolment: During the summer until 15 September, but the school accepts students all the time.
Academic dates: Around 15 September to 15 June.
Curriculum: British curriculum and, for Romanians, an adaptation of this. Kids can study Romanian history and geography.
Facilities: Chemistry lab, art room, music room, library and computer room.
After school clubs: Including art, table tennis and charity fund raising, such as collecting clothes and food for an orphanage.
Languages: English is the main language. Romanian is also taught. Spanish and French are compulsory.
School times: 8:00 to 14.00 or 16.00 hrs, depending on grade
Other info: Has accounting and business classes


25 B, Erou Iancu Nicolae St, Voluntari, Ilfov
Tel: 490.80.70
Educational director: Anca Macovei Vlasceanu.
Financing: Through payments.
Learning environment: “The teaching strategies we use are better than in other schools, but what distinguishes us is the quality of our teaching staff, as we have only the best of the best.”
National make-up: 40 per cent Romanian. 15 per cent mixed. 45 per cent foreign from Europe, the Arab world, China and Canada, for example.
Age range: All grades until the seventh at present, but with increasing grades year on year as the students stay on.
Pupils per class: 290 pupils, 18-20 per class.
Annual fees: Minimum payment of 5,000 Euro.
Last day of enrolment: All year long.
Academic dates: 15 September to 2 July.
Curriculum: 40 to 50 per cent Romanian. In the process of obtaining an International Baccalaureate authorisation.
Facilities: Science lab, computer labs, library, painting, music and theatre, swimming pool, three gyms and three canteens. A seaside camp in Costinesti for summer holidays and weekend trips.
After school clubs: Acting, Aikido, ballet, music, sportive dance, IT, journalism, language, painting and chess.
Languages: English, French, German, Spanish, intensive Romanian or English classes for foreign students and native language classes (for Greeks, for example).
School times: 9:30 to 15.30 hrs.
Other info: Classrooms are monitored by security cameras. School due to move in April 2006.


52, Vasile Lascar St.
Tel: 210.46.84
Headmaster: Francesco Marini.
Financing: Grades one to eight: part by the Italian State, part through fees. Kindergarten and high school: through fees.
Learning environment: “Little, yet welcoming and friendly”.
National make-up: Most pupils come from mixed Romanian-Italian families, some are Italian, none are entirely Romanian.
Age range: Four to 18.
Pupils per class: Seven.
Annual fees: Grades one to five: 2,100. Grades six to eight: 2,500 Euro. High school: 4,000 USD.
Last day of enrolment: All year long.
Academic dates: 15 September to 10 June.
Curriculum: Italian.
Facilities: Gym, computer lab. The school has an agreement with a Herastrau pool which pupils can use twice a week for free.
Languages: Italian, English, Romanian (from the first grade).
School times: 8.30-14.30 hrs.


17 Stanislav Cihoschi St.
Tel: 211.34.25
Headmistress: Ileana Burloiu
Financing: Romanian-state owned.
Learning environment: “Biculturalism and tolerance. Our students are special through what they receive in this school, as they are open and can manage wherever they go.”
National make-up: From all the students 38 are foreigners, from, for example, Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic, Serbia and Turkey.
Age range: seven-18 years old.
Pupils: 1,450 students, 25 per class.
Annual fees: None.
Last day of enrolment: All year long.
Academic dates: 15 September to 15 June.
Curriculum: Romanian plus the History and tradition of the German minority in Romania. Two high school classes allow students to obtain a Baccalaureate recognised in any EU country.
Facilities: Computer lab, science labs and gym. A festival hall is due to be built. Languages: German, Romanian (for Romanian History, Geography and PE), English and French.
School times: Grades one to four: 8.30-13.00 hrs Grades 7, 8, 11 and 12: 7.30-14.00 hrs. Grades 5, 6, 9 and 10: 12.30-19.30 hrs.
Other info: The graduate with the highest average mark receives fully-paid tuition fees for a German University.


21-23, Agricultori St.
Tel: 252.37.04
Principal: Julian Hingley.
Financing: Self-supported, through student fees.
Learning environment: “An inclusive, not exclusive environment, but parents who choose this school make a lifetime quality decision, because we teach our students more than how to pass exams.”
National make-up: 45 per cent are Romanian, the rest range over 33 different nationalities.
Age range: Four to 18 years old.
Pupils: 120 students. Maximum of 16 per class.
Annual fees: Between 8,500 and 10,000 Euro.
Last day of enrolment: All year long.
Academic dates: 1 September to 30 June.
Curriculum: National Curriculum of England and Wales, GCSE and AS/A level.
Facilities: Science lab, computer lab, music and art room, modern languages room, drama room.
After school clubs: Swimming, chess, football, kung fu, basketball, tennis, sportive dance, gymnastics, art, science club, journalism, choir, drama, music clubs, homework club.
Languages: French, German, Italian, Spanish, Latin.
School times: 8:30 to 16.00 hrs, plus Saturday morning classes.


Christian Bell St, no 22, Sector One
Tel: 212.58.93
Headmaster: Claude Mamou.
Financing: From the French state.
Learning environment: “A pleasant atmosphere, very agreeable and familiar.”
Gender make-up: 50 per cent girls and 50 per cent boys.
National make-up: 50 per cent French, 25 per cent Romanians. Others include Italian, Spanish, Turkish, Lebanese, Belgian, Canadian, Swiss, Greek.
Age range: First to 12th grade.
Pupils per class: Between 20 and 25 for primary and ten to 20 for high school.
Annual fees: From 3,293 to 3,512 Euro for Romanians and French. From 3,842 to 4,084 Euro for others.
Last day of enrolment: During whole year.
Academic dates: 1 September to 2 July.
Curriculum: French.
Facilities: Laboratories.
After school clubs: Judo, dance, painting, theatre, sports and music.
Languages: French, Romanian and English. For eighth grade: Spanish or German compulsory.