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Romania Table of Contents


Secondary Education

Secondary education, of which two years were compulsory, allowed the students three options. The general secondary schools lasted four years and were geared toward preparing students for the university. These schools could concentrate on a specific field of study, such as economics or music or on a particular foreign language. Four- and five-year technological secondary schools trained technicians and industrial managers. Two- and three-year vocational high schools, extolled by the regime, trained skilled workers. Most primary school graduates attended vocational schools.

Education at the secondary level clearly reflected a technical bias. Three years after the 1973 educational reforms, the ratio of general to technical and vocational schools was reversed--from four general to every one specialized school in 1973 to one general to four specialized schools in 1976. During the 1970s, the number of students enrolled in technical studies increased from 53,595 to 124,000. The trend toward vocationalism continued into the 1980s, but general secondary schools continued to carry more status, despite official rhetoric and preferential treatment for vocational and technical schools. To combat popular bias favoring intellectual education, the leadership made a conscious effort to incorporate elements of vocational education into academic schools and vice versa.

In the late 1980s, the regime claimed that more than 40 percent of graduates of specialized schools went on to higher education. But most peasant and worker families sent their children for some sort of vocational training, whereas the social and political elite secured a general secondary education and usually a college degree and a higher social niche for their offspring. This restratification of the education system bred resentment among the working class and was troublesome for the regime's goal of educational democratization.

Another major problem was the growth in credentialism that in turn created a greater demand for more post-secondary education of all types. But the occupations most necessary for economic development were among the least sought, and the gap between the needs of the economy and the aspirations of young people widened. The majority of young Romanians wished to pursue higher education, even as education institutions were channeling students into production as skilled workers with specialized training.

Data as of July 1989