The educational system was reorganized both structurally and in terms of content after the political upheavals in 1989. The former strong emphasis on practical subjects, placement in the workplace and the favoring of communist ideology were removed. Language, philosophy and the arts have come into the classroom stronger.
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There is a 9-year compulsory school from the children is 6 years. The primary school is 4 years old, the secondary school 5 years old, and the secondary school 3 years old. Admission is required to enter the general secondary schools, which are preparing for higher education. In addition, admission exams are required to enter higher education institutions. Vocational schools provide specialization in various subject areas.
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Higher education is provided at 125 different institutions. The oldest universities are located in Iasi (founded 1860) and Bucharest (1864).
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1989 Exit Ceaucescu
The government introduced a state of emergency, but a sector within the old state apparatus carried out a coup d’état with the support of the popular uprising. Over 1,000 people were killed in the fighting against especially the hated Securitate security forces. Meanwhile, those numbers in the Western media were up to 10-100,000 – supplemented with horror images from the country. Both were later revealed as Western propaganda.
In the final phase of the fight immediately before Christmas, Ceaucescu and his wife were placed on a stand, charged with “genocide, corruption and destruction of the economy” and executed by the military. In his place, the Front of National Salvation took power. The front leaders came predominantly from the old apparatus of power and were met with a great deal of suspicion. Resistance to the new government grew and it came to violent street clashes. At the 1990 elections, the front officially got 85% of the vote, but international observers could confirm rumors of election fraud.
In September 91, Prime Minister Petre Roman and his entire cabinet filed their resignation petition. This was at the same time the demand of thousands of miners who had launched a march against Bucharest in protest of the privatizations initiated by the Roman government. The workers were sharply pursued during their three days in the capital – at least three were killed and over 100 injured.
After declaring himself willing to meet at least some of the miners’ demands, President Ion Iliescu, Theodor Stolojan, appointed new Prime Minister. He had been the Minister of Privatization in the previous government. The appointment was interpreted as a reassuring gesture by Iliescus to the foreign investors and the international financial institutions.
In December 91, 77% of voters voted for a new constitution that changed the country into a presidential regime based on the existence of multiple political parties. However, the Constitution received very sparse support in Transylvania, where the majority of the population is of Hungarian descent.
On December 1, 92, the agricultural cooperative structure introduced by the Ceaucescu regime was formally abolished, but in reality it continued to exist.
The government was subjected to ever-increasing criticism from international financial institutions and Western countries for the slow implementation of liberal economic reforms. One of the aspects that was criticized was the ownership of the land. Yet in 94, the state owned 30% of the country’s land.
Also 1995 was marked by discrepancies between Bucharest and a number of its trading partners – i.e. EU – on the speed of implementation of reforms. After two years of negotiations, Bucharest finally passed a law on the privatization of commercial enterprises in June.
International human rights organizations like Amnesty International also criticized the governing body – especially for the violence and discrimination faced by the 500,000 – 2,000,000 Romanian gypsies.
After several years of preparation, in September 96 Romania and Hungary signed an agreement on the 1.6 million Hungarians living in Romania. Hungary had to be content with the wording of “guarantees for the rights of this minority” and had to abandon the demand for “autonomy” for Hungarians in Transylvania. With Iliescu’s defeat in the November elections, the most ultranationalist tendencies diminished, relations with Hungary improved, and this opened a consulate in the capital of Transylvania, Cluj. Yet the specter of nationalism emerged again when Parliament voted down a proposal for university education to minority groups.
The winner of the November presidential election, Emil Constantinescu inaugurated a new government that was tasked with fighting corruption and organized crime. Prime Minister Victor Ciorbea devised an economic program for structural adjustment inspired by proposals from the IMF: Public budgets needed to be reduced, privatizations expanded and administration decentralized. However, the constant disputes between the parties that formed the basis of the government slowed down the reforms, and Parliament’s adoption of laws was delayed.
The popular dissatisfaction with government policy led to a new wave of protests, which reached a tentative peak in October 97. One of the main objectives of Romanian foreign policy in 98 was the acceleration of accession in NATO and in the EU.
The new government coalition failed to create either economic or political stability. In June 98, Daniel Daianu resigned from the post of finance minister when his proposal to cancel the purchase of 96 helicopters abroad was rejected. A majority of the government also decided to reject the proposal to open a Hungarian-language university, which further destabilized the coalition. The party representing the Hungarian minority in Romania threatened to withdraw from the government if the university was not established. Eventually, the parties agreed to open a “multicultural” university to teach in Hungarian and German.