Edumacation


Well it’s come to my attention that some learnéd fops and big cheeses have been reading some of my posts on Gypsies (if you’re new to my thoughts on the subject, you can start here). I don’t wish to get into that subject today however but I do want to discuss a related topic.

Essentially all modern “civilized” thought on Gypsies is that their culture must be modified in two ways. One is civic responsibility, meaning they must adhere to social norms such as no stealing, no shouting on the street at 3am, learn to brush their teeth, regularly wash, vote, etcetera. The other way is education, as in their children must be forcibly educated.

As I said, I’ll leave that topic for another day. But I recently realized, after talking extensively to some people, that if you wanted to utterly destroy what’s left of Romania’s economy you could do it in one simple step – eradicate free university tuition.

There’s absolutely no coincidence that the four biggest cities in Romania are all home to multiple universities. Bucharest, as the national capital and home to half of Romania’s urban dwellers, obviously has a more diversified local economy. But if there were no more universities in Cluj-Napoca, Timisoara and Iasi, those three cities would collapse overnight.

Very few countries still have a system like Romania’s although it was once common even in the ruthlessly competitive United States, that graduating high school students were given access for free to public universities. Ronald Reagan, the former President of the United States, actually cut his political teeth by dismantling that system in California when he was governor there.

In my own lifetime, Britain went from having a large number of free spots at public universities to now a more American system where tuition rates are exorbitant. You could buy yourself four brand-new good automobiles for what it costs to attend a quality university in many countries these days. But here in Romania, as long as you maintain a certain level of scholastic achievement, it is still free (albeit there are secondary costs such as books, food, etc, depending on the situation).

Iasi, Timisoara and Cluj-Napoca are completely dependent on this system to survive. Here in Unicorn City alone there are some 60,000 university students every year. They shop in the stores, they drink in the bars and they provide gigantic infusions of cash on a yearly basis. Students do a lot of the part-time work and are employed in lower-level positions and are a fundamental part of the local economy.

Furthermore, because these top universities in the big four cities are so prestigious, they have the net effect of sucking in tens of thousands of students from smaller cities and rural areas. Many students receive money from parents or family back in these smaller cities and rural areas and this money in turn gets spent in one of the big university towns. Essentially, Cluj, Timisoara and Iasi are factories that draw in enormous sums from families in other areas that gets spent in the big city.

This isn’t exactly news for anyone who has lived in a university town anywhere on the planet. But in Romania there are two key differences. The first is that a student from a poor family still has a chance to come to the big city and study at a top-notch university. This means that ordinary Romanians have a chance to get a good education and then parlay this into a good career, improving the quality of life for future generations.

The second key difference, sadly, is that the very smartest students, the most ambitious entrepreneurs, the brilliantly multilingual geniuses which pass through the doors of Romanian universities are nearly all being vectored out of the country. They go on to study further or to pursue careers in other countries and so Romania suffers badly from a brain drain. The smart and ambitious people end up leaving which means fewer and fewer top quality people left in Romania to sustain the economy and pay taxes so that the next generation can continue to receive a quality university education at little to no price.

It’s quite a vicious system and it is on the path to collapse, either through the imposition of tuition fees or because too many of the smart and education people have left Romania and the economy can no longer fund tuition-free university studies.

When that does happen, when the balance is tipped through one or both of the reasons listed above, the cities of Cluj-Napoca, Iasi and Timisoara will implode. Or at least their economies will. It’s true there is a little bit of light manufacturing and some other industries in these big 3 cities (particularly the computer/IT stuff) but overwhelmingly everything in these areas is completely dependent on 50,000 or more university students arriving each year and spending money, learning valuable skills and knowledge, which then gets converted (some of the time) into a smarter, more savvy workforce. Take away the universities and the whole thing collapses like a house of cards.

In countries like Britain, graduating university students are highly likely to keep their skills in their home country. Even when they decide to emigrate and work in places like France, this is balanced out by a roughly equal number of equally qualified graduates from foreign universities (such as those in France) coming to work in Britain. But here in Romania there is a steady and unrelenting torrent of smart and educated and capable people all leaving to go work and study abroad and virtually no equivalent immigrants coming here to take their place.

I was born and raised in cities and so it wasn’t until 2011 that I ever learned how to make my own butter. Of course I’d been eating it all my life and knew what it looked like but I never truly understand what it was. It turns out that if you take fresh (raw) milk, allow it to cool (especially in a refrigerator), the cream actually does rise to the top. You then remove the cream, put it in a container and then apply friction and the fat molecules in the cream will coalesce into butter.

Romania is a bit like that bottle of milk. The cream, or the brightest, best and smartest young people in this country, are being siphoned out of the bottle (country) and then going on to France and Germany and Singapore and America and everywhere else to make “butter” (things that improve society). What’s left behind in Romania is increasingly the stupid, the uneducated, the illiterate, the criminals and the elderly.

And this process repeats itself every day, every week, every year as more and more of the best people are being lost and so the crap at the bottom of the “bottle” is becoming more and more concentrated. Besides the elderly, every day there are more golani, more drunks, more drugged-out fiends, more ditch diggers, more people who read Click!, more bad drivers, more ignorant fools who listen to manele and ride burned-out scooters, more bribe takers, thieves, con artists and criminals.

The people who could make this country better have no incentive to stay. And so the only people who are staying behind are those too old to make a change and those too stupid or incapable of doing so so. And it is this generation of scammers, beer drinkers, scooter drivers and leather jacket aficionados which Romania is depending upon to pay for the next generation’s top-notch university education. And that, right there, is a recipe for disaster.

In a few generations at most, if nothing changes, Romania will resemble its smaller cousin, the Republic of Moldova, a vast region full of nothing but elderly potato farmers and one or two decrepit cities run entirely by clans of mafia bandits. RM already holds the unfortunate distinction of being one of the few countries where more of its citizens live outside of its borders than inside of it. And it won’t be long before Romania is much the same.

And then all the shiny Starbucks, the nice malls, the smooth highways and the BMW dealerships will be nothing more than hazy memories of a brief moment in the sun when things were good.

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15 Responses »

  1. What is there to be done? … sometimes I think thusly: if you take societies as evolving organisms, then they too should be judged from an evolutionary point of view. There is nothing anywhere stating that our society must exist or that it should be conserved. If Romanian society goes to hell, then so be it. It means that Nature did not find anything of use out of this niche and maybe it will have a better luck some place else. It may sound harsh, but seriously, who says we need to preserve oursleves at all costs even if we’re a tad unsure of it as well !?

    IMHO, Romania and its society is like all the “missing links” or other intermediate steps in the evolutionary paths of so many living organisms; and I fear that our end is nigh.

    *to be taken with copious amounts of salt*

  2. Now you see why our enthusiasm decreased and many of us left behind all those beauties you described in the post about “flipping” channels.

  3. The day Sam finally breaks and moves west we can give ourselves a big collective pat on the back for showing him how we’re making sure we’ll never be happy as a society.

    Also, as a fellow Romanian thinking about returning home, I’m quite torn when reading this article. Either Sam is becoming a lot more Romanian than he used to be (in the lamenting fatalistic ‘Miorita’ shepherd way that I dislike so thoroughly), or what he says is really true. What we need is an army of psychologists.

    • A bit of both. Sam is getting a better picture of our problems, but since he is actually NOT Romanian (not even latin), he thinks that we might react like other nations. We don’t. We are unpredictible (even to us).
      The future may be bleak, no question about it, but again it might not be. It is possible to come out on top just when everybody has given us for dead (it happened couple of times in our history).
      Also, Sam is actually too serious to be a Romanian (meaning that when he sees a problem he never gets a moment peace until he finds – or think he has found – a solution). We are not like that (most of us, anyway). We have so many problems that if we were to be so serious we would never smile and got really depressed – which might be what’s happening with Sam.
      You think now it’s bad? How about when Romania did not exist as a state, instead there were 3 principates and each occupied by a different empire? How about when we had no schools, the official language in Romania was actually NOT Romanian, the country was led by governors appointed in Istanbul or Moscow (or both), every couple of years the country was occupied by various armies who plundered and killed etc. etc.? This happened not that long ago.
      And yet, here we are. We have problems, it’s true, but if you know a little history you will see that actually we are now in a good situation. Have a little faith.

    • Cristian, I’ve been so busy lately (NaNoWriMo and all) that I’ve ncgteeled to keep up with anybody’s blog (including mine!). Last time I read about Irevuo, it was an idea without a name. I was stunned to see how quickly you’ve transformed this fantasy into a reality. I can’t afford to contribute monetarily right now, but I’d be honored to give Irevuo some mention on my blog in the near future. Possibly in the form of an interview (if that would work for you). Just because we’ve never met in person, doesn’t mean I can’t be very, VERY proud of you and this endeavor (BRAVO!!!)

  4. The thing is that it doesn’t seem enough to be brilliant and have a solid education and subsequently a fine career in order to change something for the good in this country. You must also want it. I know many wonderful, simply wonderful people who studied hard in Romania and chose to make a life in Romania as well. They are without exception honest people who work hard and pay their taxes. Do they make any difference? No. Why not? Because they aren’t interested to do so. Many of them are working like slaves for some MNEs without even thinking to protest, many have children and elder parents to care for. What if this kind of intelligent and educated people would start to get involved in their community’s life? Do whatever, start asking the local mayor how did he spend the money collected from a particular tax, start a campaign for saving the communitary cats (there are a lot of such cats in Bucharest) or the Roman ruins from your city, anything. None of those I know has ever thought to do it although they are highly intelligent and educated persons. Therefore, if education is a necessary condition for saving Romania, unfortunately it’s not also a sufficient condition. Something like that.

    On the other hand….to give my least favorite example, I still remember that once upon a time an iliterate girl whose main occupation was to tend the sheep woke up one day and said to herself: “Today I’m going to go and save France.” And guess what happened? She did save France (which wasn’t her country at that moment but who cared?) and she did have no high education, no military experience whatsoever and on top of that no decent politicians to facilitate her job. So it looks like it may be possible yet for Romania to be saved, even if our chances aren’t looking good at the moment. We may not be the Chosen People but we too were taught to believe that mountains can be moved in time with just an ounce of faith and hope.

    • There are people who are doing what you are saying, but most of us are just too busy with our own lives. “Primum vivere, deinde philosophare”

      • Exactly; which is why I’ll never blame anyone who simply doesn’t have the time for such things nor I would ask anyone to leave his child or ill mother unattended and come with me to pay our respects to Captain Hook, for instance. All I ask is to at least consider this kind of things and actions and don’t reject them only for the reason that your neighbor may see you and don’t approve of you or because it’s not “trendy” or “cool”.

      • I am currently fiiihsnng up my BA in Child Development and Family Studies and thus far I have only work with children from 2 weeks to adolescent while helping support their families. The Physician that I would want to work under is an Obstetrics (OB) because they are in direct contact with pregnant women and their children during pregnancy. I would choose this particular specialty for a variety of reason such as having the opportunity to see individuals become parent for the first time, seeing how much love is surrounded in the process, being there to help the mothers while there in a vulnerable state. One of my main reasons is because I think that the whole birthing process is fascinating and to be able to be a part of family’s lives while going through this process, I imagine to be extremely rewarding.A of physician specialty that I would least want to work with would be a psychiatrist. Although I believe that psychiatrist do some spectacular work and help a lot of people through difficult situations I personally believe that this job would be to emotionally draining and overwhelming for me. This makes me question whether or not I would be able to handle it. When I set out to do a job my goal is to do the best that I can and I don’t feel that I could successfully do this job to the best of my ability.

    • and she died in horrible circumstances saving France…

    • If it can teach you important skllis that you can walk away with then it may be worth a shot, but I think I would hire someone who came from a standard Uni before an online one.

  5. I beg to differ about the “top notch”-ness of the education level in Romanian universities. Most are underfunded, with underprepared professors or provide useless study programs.
    I know quite a number of fresh new grads that have finished a university and have come out with next to NOTHING! It should not be possible to be able to graduate without attending classes and getting your graduation projects off the internet with few people above caring. Very few degrees in Romania nowadays actually mean something. Everybody and their uncle is higher educated.

    And don’t worry. The cities will not collapse. People will be moving from the villages to towns and taking up the low level jobs anyway, without being students. Nobody wants to live in a village nowadays, the clubs are closer in towns. Also those that do want to go to university will start taking out student loans, that they will have to stay in the country to work for to pay off afterwards, less opportunity to actually leave. Or leave the country regardless, to work abroad. Come 2014 the rest of the western European countries will have to drop restrictions and there will be outward migration in both educated and uneducated realms by the millions.

    Romania will be ripped for the picking by our owning empires as few people will actually still be living here, making way for large corporations (possibly the Chinese) to move in with their own workers and take whatever resources the country still has left with little to no resistance. There will be noone left to protest.

  6. pues por lo que se ve, solo criticas a la UNAM a lo pdeenjo. tambien se nota que saliste de la FES Aragon po que cada vez insultas a la FES. Ademas creo que eres de esos pdeenjos que se sienten menos por que nunca alcanzaron un empleo deseado y le echan la culpa a la UNAM. Pues para tu informacion wey, no es la institucion, fuiste tu quien fue tan pdeenjo de no lograrlo. O talvez nunca terminaste una carrera que pensanste que te iba a sacar de pobre como todos los fracasados que estudian ings.

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