Structure of Education System in Romania

Our mentors gave us the task to compare the education system of Finland with that of our own countries. For me it seemed like there could be books written about the subject, so I wasn’t quite sure how to make this post short and concise. I already wrote a post about educational technology in Romania, where I discussed the history of education in Romania from the point of view of funding and technology in schools. In this post I will try to focus on the structure of the education system in Romania, and compare that with how education is organized in Finland.

Structure of the educational system in Romania

The structure of the Romanian education system changes a bit almost every year, but these changes are mostly in administration, the basic structure remaining quite the same. There are two major national examinations: one at the end of the secondary school, age 14 and the baccalaureate, at the end of high school. The first national testing results determine which school the students gets into (if the grades are not good enough for high school, they are placed in a vocational school). The second national testing (Baccalaureate, age 18/19) is important for admission to universities.

Kindergarten is not compulsory except the last year of it, which prepares children for school. Pre-primary education in state institutions is free, but parents are required to pay for certain things (food, materials, etc.). The education  from primary school up to 10th grade (age 16) is compulsory and free (although parents are often required to pay for different things). From 16-18 the education is free, but not compulsory. At universities there are free places offered, and also some with yearly fees (students with high grades get the free places).

education system

Sometimes it’s difficult to see what is different in Romania from other countries, because some little things are just so natural for us. In this blog a person from England living in the part of Romania which has a Hungarian majority describes his experiences with education in Romania: . I found his writing very insightful and amusing, I think it’s worth taking a look at.

As I already explained in the post about educational technology, there is a huge difference between rural and urban areas in Romania. Here you can see a video about the situation in rural areas:

Structure of the Educational System in Finland

The structure of the Finnish system is quite similar to the Romanian at first glance as you can see below. However, in the Finnish system there are no examinations, which is great in my opinion. In the Romanian system there are many students who for some reason don’t do well in the first national evaluation when they are 14, so they loose many options.

The other difference is that education in Finland is free on all levels, and that children get food at school for free. The number of hours spent in the classroom is also less than in Romania (e.g. I spent around 38 hours/week in high school).

Structure of Educational system in Finland

About vocational training

When I first started to get acquainted with the Finnish education system, the part that was most difficult for me to understand had to do with the vocational “path” students can take. You can go to a vocational school during your high school year, and then continue your studies in a polytechnic or a university of applied sciences. These institutions focus on providing their students with practical knowledge, and those who graduate will have a well defined profession. Students can learn to become for example nurses, optometrists, programmers or dance teachers.

If you look at the Romanian model, you will immediately notice that the vocational education leads… well, nowhere. Ok, that’s not quite right, after completing 2 years in a vocational school, students have to possibility to pass an exam and get a certificate in their field, or they can opt to study two more years, and get a higher level certificate. These certificates are not very valuable, and usually they lead to unemployment or very low salary. If they want to continue studying in a university or polytechnic they have to spend another year preparing for the Baccalaureate exam, however the success rate of these students is very low.

As I already said, there are so many differences between the two education systems, that it’s difficult to pick out the “main difference”. I would say that in the case of the structure of the education systems, the keyword is flexibility. In the Finnish system children can make choices, and the choices they make in their teenage years don’t have to be definite, they can always reorient themselves.

Another important difference is that in Finland they value and respect all professions. In Romania very few students choose to go to vocational schools, they usually end up there because they couldn’t get into high school. Those who graduate from vocational schools (plumbers, electricians, welders etc.) are not payed well, and they would need more training to become professionals. This situation leads many people to struggle through the theoretical training in high school and sometimes at university, just so they can have a “diploma”, even though they would be more skilled in other areas and don’t plan on pursuing a career requiring a theoretical background.



About Marta Sobocinski

Doctoral student at LET Oulu
This entry was posted in Advanced studies, Learning of Expertise, LET studies and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Structure of Education System in Romania

  1. contae says:

    This post was very interesting and also the video.
    I think in Italy we have the same kind of gap between vocational schools and workplaces. Even graduating from vocational schools doesn’t give student enough professional skills and will force them to look for any low-payed job, not necessarily related with the studies done.
    The video made me understand how strong is the relation between education, attitude towards the school and the culture and cultural values.

    • Marta says:

      I’m happy you found it interesting. I also saw the similarities in our education systems after reading your post, I think it would have been much easier to compare those two to each other, than the Romanian/Italian system to the Finnish:-)

  2. timo palmu says:

    Hi, Marta
    This is Timo commenting of your blog writing.
    You’ve done a very good job. Your writing gives me an impression of your fine motivation and devotion to the task. It always makes me happy when I meet right, positive attitude like yours. You have made some good perceptions of the similarities and differences between those two systems. I think that is important. Not because of showing that one system is better than the other, it is not that simple, but to make you think more deeply (like an adaptive expert) the obstacles and possibilities in these systems in five countries to organize education and help you to find better solutions to develop your own ideas for structures of education in Romania or where ever you live. Maybe you some day will return to your home country and become a secretary of education. If this won’t happen, you also as an ordinary teacher will have a great influence in your environment.
    Your two examples you’ve picked up are very interesting and give the reader a wider and concrete image of the local situations and spirit. Also your findings of the main differences are sharp. Maybe it would be fruitful to you to put some time to think your keyword, flexibility. What does it mean, how does it help, what side notions are there, how much does it cost, where does it lead you to? I think this kind of processing opens new views to you especially if you share your thoughts.

    Thank you for your writing.
    See you next week.
    bw Timo

    PS. We mentors decided in our meeting on Monday (by the way we were waiting for you four too to participate) that we’d like very much, if you wrote a few words about the task. How did you feel about it, what were your experiences of it, did it make any sense from your point of view.

    • Marta says:

      Hi! Thank you very much for taking the time to write this comment, it’s good to get feedback. I think there was a bit of miscommunication yesterday, I wrote to Virpi that I couldn’t be there because I was feeling very sick. I talked to one of my colleagues and she was waiting for the invitation to Google hangout, but she didn’t get one. Next time we’ll make sure that we understand where we have to be 🙂
      I will think more about the question of flexibility (i also think it’s worth investigating more) and write a post reflecting on how I felt writing this analysis.
      See you next week!

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