Ahead of the new school year, a Government Ordinance that was adopted on the 31st of August, which states that pupils at the primary level who are enrolled in a minority language education system have to be taught Romanian by a teacher who specialises in Romanian language and literature, and not by a primary school teacher, as was the practice until recently. Teachers, parents and educational experts alike have expressed their dismay at this latest shocking development, which puts a cloud over the start of school for many pupils and their teachers.

The most problematic issue regarding this decision is that it seems to have been taken without consulting the experts in minority language education or the representatives of the minority communities. Moreover, the decision and especially the implementation have not been adequately prepared. The Romanian teachers in question are not specialised in teaching primary school children, and it is questionable, to say the least, whether a two-day training, as suggested, will prepare these teachers for teaching in primary schools, which requires a significantly different approach than teaching at higher levels. Furthermore, several school inspectorates at the county level have already signalled that there are not enough Romanian teachers to meet this demand. The Ministry of Education recently issued some clarifications relating to the ordinance, which specify that in cases where there are no available professors of Romanian, elementary school teachers may teach Romanian classes. Henceforth, these are to be the exceptions, however, and not the norm.

It is our conviction that for the moment the only feasible and sensible option is to modify the ordinance and revoke the parts relating to this issue. The government should work together with experts in minority education and with specialised institutions, in order to elaborate reasonable strategies that will help pupils in acquiring adequate communication skills in the state language. We strongly believe that a hastily implemented decision, which by all accounts was taken without consulting the representatives of minorities or experts in the field of minority education, and which was not thoroughly considered in advance, is certainly not the answer.