Academic journal article The Journal of Social, Political, and Economic Studies

The Problem of Post-Communist Education: The Romanian Example

Academic journal article The Journal of Social, Political, and Economic Studies

The Problem of Post-Communist Education: The Romanian Example

Article excerpt

The crucial role of education in transforming post-Communist society is illustrated by developments in Romania during its first postrevolutionary decade, where post-communist governments have yet to come to grips with the problem of highly trained scientific specialists being attracted to service abroad. According to a survey in 2000, 66% of Romania's students are likely to emigrate. The Romanian economy is still primarily oriented around agricultural and industrial production so the education system is burdened with essentially basic demands. However, measures were introduced in 1990 to create centers of excellence in an effort to prevent the flight of skilled technicians to other nations, and the current Romanian education system is designed to prepare for European integration.

Key Words: Romania, higher education, selective migration, brain drain, European economic integration

Introduction

With the collapse of Germany in 1945, one of the first concerns of the military occupation forces was a dramatic reform of the nation's educational system. Allied policies were based on recognition of the fact that unless the German educational system could meet the demands of a post-Nazi system, a political, social, and economic transformation of Germany would not be possible. The lessons of post-war Western Europe are relevant for post-Communist Eastern Europe and the transformation of the Romanian educational system, a policy that was forged by the Romanians themselves, gives us a clear picture of the problems now faced by other former Communist Party states.

For every nation, the educational system represents its highest achievement. The educational system paves the way for advances in standards of living and recognition of the overall accomplishments of the social, political, and economic systems. Unlike natural resources and other attributes that may be dismissed as blessings of fortune, the various educational disciplines define what people have done in terms of utilization of their natural resources. In calculating national power, political scientists routinely take into account the educational standards of the population and science and technology generally receive special emphasis.

During the Cold War, developments in science and technology (S&T) were at the forefront of competition between the communist and non-communist worlds. Scientific installations and their staff members were targets of some of the most determined efforts of intelligence services in the East and the West. Numerous special incentives were offered to personnel willing to defect from one side to the other. Moreover, scholars devoted great attention to the educational systems of their national rivals in order to make projections about future educational advances that might in some way alter the current balance of power.

With the end of the Cold War, the S&T battle has assumed very different dimensions. Today there is a struggle to determine who will be able to keep those individuals most highly trained in scientific and technological disciplines. The British may have been among the first to recognize the crucial role played by scientists associated with the "deadly arts" of S&T and under various special programs, opportunities were created in the UK for those specialists in the former communist party states who found themselves unemployed.

An essential question, therefore, is how do the former communist party states retain the "best and brightest" of their educated elites. How are they educated and what incentives exist to encourage them to remain in their homelands? Furthermore, how does the system utilize such people in order to help the nation weather the difficult postcommunist transition? Because it was a part of the communist party state system and its leadership exhibited excessive intellectual pretensions, the authors have selected Romania as the focal point of this study. Romania's accomplishments, especially in the area of S&T education, are all the more remarkable because of the heavy handed politicization of S&T during the Ceausescu era when Elena Ceausescu, wife of Romania's leader, Nicolae Ceausescu, imposed her personal style on all scientific work. …

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