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Romania Table of Contents


Education and Legitimacy of the Regime

Along with the aim of political socialization, a chief goal of the communists from when they first held power was the "democratization" of education, which meant compulsory primary education for all members of society and implied greater access to higher education for peasants and workers. Democratization of education was to serve as the wellspring of upward social mobility and an important source of legitimacy for the regime. Large investments were made in education, and illiteracy was all but eradicated by 1966, an important achievement considering that in 1945 some 27 percent of the population was unable to read or write.

At the same time there was a massive expansion of enrollment in elementary education, and universal ten-year basic schooling was achieved by 1975. In that year 100 percent of those eligible to attend elementary school were enrolled; the corresponding figure for secondary education was 49 percent, and for higher education 10 percent. By 1970 the number of teachers at the primary and secondary level was three times the pre-1945 figure, and by 1975 the student-to-teacher ratio fell to 20 to 1. The university teaching staff also expanded dramatically--from approximately 2,000 teachers in the 1938-39 academic year to more than 13,000 by 1969. Teaching, especially at the university level, had long been a prestigious profession. Teachers were required to be qualified in two specialties and were trained in guidance and counseling.

Throughout the 1970s, efforts were made to link more closely the education system to the requirements of the economy and the industrial development of the nation. This had a dramatic impact at all levels of the educational structure, as the desire for close ties between the school and real-life situations meant greater emphasis on technical and vocational education, whereas the humanities and liberal arts suffered. This polytechnic approach favored basic education with more courses in mathematics and natural and physical sciences, factory and farm work during school hours, and special courses aimed at instilling love and respect for manual labor and eliminating bias in favor of academic work. As a result, the education system of the 1980s openly discouraged higher academic education and favored training that would produce workers and managers as quickly as possible.

Data as of July 1989