Education is accorded a high priority in the Romanian scheme of things. The educated people have traditionally been given the respect that they deserve all through the ages in Romania. Vital positions in a rural society, like the village mayor, teacher or priest used to be reserved for the educated ones. That tradition continues to this day in Romania. Education is compulsory up to the age of 16 for every citizen of the country. The level of education too is competitive for children and demanding for their teachers.
In Romania, children start going to nursery school at the age of three. They can continue with nursery till they are six or seven, depending on the level of their ability. School commences at eight and is over by midday. The children learn to draw and colour, get acquainted with the alphabets and are told many stories through which they are supposed to learn. It is the duty of the teachers to ensure that the students actually imbibe what they are taught.
The children also learn how to sing and dance in playschool. They are taught simple crafts, like making boats and flowers from paper and also things from their milieu that they can relate to, like snowflakes. Some nursery schools also teach the rudiments of a foreign language like English, German or French from such an early age, in addition to the mother tongue.
On finishing nursery school, the children have to undergo tests by the primary schools they want to enroll with. Primary education lasts for four years, that is from the age of six or seven until the child is ten or eleven years old. The school hours in primary schools too are from 8 a.m. till noon. Children bring some light snacks to school, and are fed a small carton of milk along with a roll. They go home to have their lunch rather than have it in the school itself.
The curriculum in primary school is considerably more varied. Students are taught the Romanian language, Mathematics, Biology, Geography, History, Religion, Physical Education, Arts and Crafts, as also a foreign language, say English. The detailed syllabus is designed to make the children inquisitive and to make them aware of a lot of facts and information. Upon evaluation, the children are awarded grades like “Very Good”, “Good”, “Satisfactory”, and “Not Satisfactory”.
The next stage is the lower secondary school, which also lasts for four years. There are two terms in an academic year, one before and one after the Christmas holidays. There are holidays for Easter too, and a long summer vacation stretches from the middle of June till the middle of September. New subjects that are introduced at this stage include Physics, Chemistry, and a second foreign language, for example French, German or Spanish. Two countrywide tests are held at the end of either term in the 7th grade, i.e. the third year into lower secondary school. The subjects covered in these tests are Mathematics and Romanian.
The end of the 8th grade, the most vital in lower secondary school, is marked by the final examination in Romanian, Mathematics, and History or Geography. The results are declared in a scale of 1 through 10. The results of the students in this test determine whether they can go on to high school or not.
During this time students fill in a form, which has a list of the high schools. Students can mark their choice of high school in the order of their preference on that form. However, whether they actually make it to the schools of their choice would largely be determined by the grades they score.
Some students, who could not qualify for the high school, are offered the opportunity of joining a vocational school. Here they can pick up different skills or crafts that would give them a vocational qualification on finishing the course chosen.
Finally at the end of four years of high school, students have to take the baccalaureate examination, after which they become eligible to enter a university for furthering their academic career if they want so.