Testimonial from a Romanian parent of a child who recently joined CSC
The greater majority of Romanian parents face educational dilemmas: “What primary and secondary school should we choose for our children? How will our children face the challenges of the Romanian state education? What grades will they obtain for their final evaluations at the end of Grade 8, and how can we support our children to achieve the highest grades? What high schools will be appropriate, based on the outcome grades from the ‘Capacitate’ exams? How will our children successfully complete their high school careers, and will they be accepted into good universities?”
There are many cases where students are not accepted into a quality high school due to limited places available. Some parents choose the private system, but they follow the same curriculum with the same teaching methods of earlier generations. We hear about students who are obliged to learn the names of all tributaries into the river Tisa, along with all the states and capital cities of Africa. These examples from geography can also be identified in all the other academic subjects. Students are obliged to learn things that are not relevant for their lives, things that, if found relevant, can be easily accessed on the internet. Important matters for the social and cultural development of children such as freedom of expression, tolerance towards others and civic responsibility are marginalised in the orthodox state education provision.
Since 2000 there have been attempts to modernise the Romanian educational system through a new National Curriculum following the model of the new framework for England and Wales, and popular adherence to the Cambridge International Examination offer (CIE) which is the global leader. Under the UK provision, children benefit from diverse and general education before 14 years of age, and the knowledge they receive is relevant to real life and real world learning. From 14-16 years’ students narrow their learning foci and increasingly specialise on an average of 8 subjects for their GCSEs (equivalent to Capacitate). This first tier of exams is taken at age 16.
Once they successfully pass this stage, students may choose a minimum of 4 subjects for in-depth study for A Level (Baccalaureate). Students follow the advanced syllabus between the ages of 16-18. According to this education system, students focus on a smaller number of subject options but study in much greater and more meaningful depth; and learn what is most relevant for their lives and future career prospects.
A new and innovative system in Cluj-Napoca is the radical concept implemented at Cluj Study Centre. Here students are enrolled in a distance-learning school in England. They have an individual tutor from the school for each subject they choose, and they also have a pastoral project coordinator in CSC. Every subject has set assessments at the end of each learning unit, and this is marked by subject specialists who provide extensive feedback to students and parents alike. At the end of each two-years cycle, the students will sit their examinations in an accredited CIE centre in Romania which is affiliated to CSC.
This niche education initiative is becoming more popular in Romania, both for local and international families. It is suitable for students who wish to opt out of the traditional education system because it is too arbitrary and narrow, and it is equally attractive to parents and families who must relocate between regions and countries due to job requirements.
The immense advantage is that all students learn at their own pace and can rely on their tutors at any time. For the first time we have in Romania this attractive opportunity: assisted distance learning with the added incentive of good pastoral care and safety. The CSC support for distance studies is ensured by specialised teachers who know the curriculum and the requirements, and they provide their expertise in a controlled environment. CSC teachers operate as mentors and monitors who supervise progression and continuity, and who collect progress and assessment data for reporting when parents require it.
Students of mixed abilities and ages share the same learning space and they work with teachers on a personal needs basis. CSC also offers add-ons in English, drama, art, music, technology and mindfulness. This is all offered within the afterschool system. CSC students are positively encouraged to become more responsible for their own studies, progress and choices. As the medium of study is through English language, students find it easier to connect with the world via modern technologies. This new niche concept put into practice by CSC follows the lines of a university-oriented programme, where students are enabled to choose the subjects they wish to follow; they have visitor-lecturers and they are informed about methods of personal development and the requirements of real world careers. This approach helps CSC students to find their own niche in the world. CSC offers a variety of mindful academic journeys.