Preprimary & Primary Education
The early stages of schooling in Romania include preschool education and primer education (The Educational System in Romania 2001). Preschool education usually includes children between the ages of three and seven. There are three levels of students, which are small, intermediate, and big. Education is developed in kindergarten with a normal, prolonged, and intermediate program. Education at this level is not compulsory and is typically positively correlated with income and social class (Romanian Educational System 2000). The last year of preprimary school is the "school preparatory group," which is used to prepare students for primary education.
Data from the National Institute for Education indicate that just below 65 percent of three to six-year olds attended preprimary schools in 1998/1999. This has increased by about two percent compared to 1997/1998, but is still a large decrease from the 80 percent figure in 1989/1990 (Romanian Educational System 2000). Of those students who are not enrolled, most are poor, minority, have parents with low education levels, and live in areas where there are few museums and other supplementary educational opportunities. This presents a real problem that such students will be underprepared for school and that they will remain in poverty.
Preprimary education is not compulsory, classes are coed, and classes are organized according to age based on a national syllabus. There are, however, no nationally approved textbooks and education at this level generally varies by locality. Locals have more freedom to put together educational programs at this level.
Compulsory Education: Compulsory education traditionally consists of four years of primary education and four years of lower secondary education or middle school (Romanian Educational System 2000). Students typically enter primary school at the age of seven, but may enter at age six if they are mentally capable. Students may leave secondary education at the age of 16 if they are not able to complete the educational requirements. In 1999, an education law changed the duration of compulsory education from eight to nine years.
Educational reforms in Romania have focused on changing the curriculum and books for compulsory education in grades one through eight as well as in high school through grades 12. As of 1999/2000, primary school education adopted alternative texts, but grades 4 through 12 had not. (Romanian Educational System 2000.) Assessment procedures have also begun in primary education. Teachers continuously assess primary school students throughout the curriculum. Regular school examinations are given and focus on the basic subjects of the curriculum. No examination is given at the end of the four-year primary cycle as it is at the higher levels of education.
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