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New OECD report critical of Romania’s education system

Welcomed by the Free Trade Union Federation in Education, the report echoes many of the union’s concerns, from high-stakes testing to the need for greater teacher autonomy, in an in-depth examination of the education system.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development report, OECD Reviews of Evaluation and Assessment in Education, reflects many of the concerns being voiced by the Free Trade Union Federation in Education (FSLI), Education International (EI)’s affiliate. Overall, the report provides a thorough review of education in Romania, and thanks the unions for their involvement.

The report is critical of various areas, such as high stakes examinations, which dominate the Romanian system, reduced space for learning and narrow definitions of success. The OECD makes it clear that assessment should be formative and that teachers need the professional space to exercise judgement and self-reflection.

Alexandra Cornea, Director of International Relationship, Education, Training and Programs Department of FSLI, says that the union was pleased with its involvement with the study. Although she said that report is “very positive for Romania,” she made it clear that the education ministry painted too “rosy a picture.”

One area where the union and ministry did not see eye-to-eye pertained to teacher compensation, which isn’t detailed in the report. Cornea said that the government’s system of dividing the pay scale among the civil service, of which teachers have a special status, has been designed to put unions against each other. She said that on a scale of 1-12 – with the prime minister at the top – teachers are placed at 2.5, far below other members of the civil service. Where compensation is addressed, the OECD opposed the use of bonus payments for appraisal outcomes.

The report also calls for the end of the politicisation of school leadership roles. Specifically, it proposes the establishment of a collective forum that involves all relevant stakeholders to reach agreement on teaching standards and that the establishment of a professional self-regulatory body should be considered.

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