State school versus private school. Teacher in the private system: “There should be no private schools”

In this school year, 770 children from Bucharest were moved by their parents from private to state schools. The number is similar to that of children transferred from the state to the private sector, namely 707.

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There are good schools in both systems. There are bad schools in both. And people make the difference, say education experts. Parents who choose private schools for their children generally look for increased safety and protection, individualized attention, extensive programs including afterschool, and access to extracurricular activities. But, in a country with a healthy economy, a healthy mentality and a healthy education system, there should be no private schoolsis the opinion of the coordinator of the Remedial Summer School program, Marcel Bartic, history teacher in a private school.

3.8% of the initial number of students enrolled in private schools in Bucharest, i.e. 770 children, were transferred by their parents to state schools during the year. At the same time, 707 students moved from state schools to private schools. The majority were secondary school students – 204 students, primary level – 192 students and high school level – 172 students, according to the data sent to Edupedu by the School Inspectorate.

There are approximately 250 private educational institutions in Bucharest. The number may seem large if you look at it globally, but there is mobility in the education system, and private institutions are part of the same system, and transfers can happen for various reasons. And if you divide 700 by 250, we are basically talking about a mobility of 2-3 students per school. It's not a number that can necessarily tell you anything. Another interesting statistic, in addition to the mobility from state to private, would be how many students transfer from state to state, from one unit to another, so that we can get a picture, draw some conclusions. If this percentage is similar for transfers from state to state and from private to private, then it is practically normal”, says the president of the Association of Private Schools, Christian Comșa.

The percentages are relatively balanced, says the coordinator of the Summer Remedial School program, Marcel Bartic, history teacher at a private school in Bucharest.

We don't have at the moment, or at least as far as I know, from the Ministry of National Education, we don't have clear data that says yes, sir, private education has become a kind of Mecca for all parents with a helping hand Romania, or, on the contrary, private education is rubbish and all parents take their children and go to the state. There are no such statistics at this time. And then, at least as far as I know, the percentages are relatively balanced. In general, this fluctuation of children is relatively balanced”, believes Marcel Bartic, who also emphasizes that the percentage of students from private education in Romania is insignificant.

We will never be an alternative for state education. We are a niche segment for a very small segment of parents who probably choose us, not necessarily because we are better, but because we are an education system where the external pressure factors are somewhat less than at the state. We have more autonomy, and that can make or break the school“, he adds.

Who drops out of private schools

There can be various reasons why parents opt out of private schools, and the most common reason is money.

The causes can be multiple. Obviously, we start from the financial aspect, maybe there are families that go through various stages. In addition to the financial aspect, it can also be the family aspect, something happens in a child's family and then it transfers. Maybe it's also a reason for the location, maybe there are parents who move from one neighborhood to another and then the transfer takes place. It can also be a reason related to the educational offer of the school, if the parents want something other than what the educational institution they are enrolled in offers. Dissatisfaction may also intervene, perhaps they are not compatible with the institution's rules. Mobility does not seem to me, if we strictly look at this number of children and the number of private education units in Bucharest, it does not seem like a large number to me“, states Christian Comșa.

Fees for private schools start from 1,000 lei per month and can exceed several hundred euros.

There are parents who choose us and parents who choose to go back to the state. Most of the time, the criteria are rather financial. There are good schools in both systems. There are bad schools in both. And people make the difference. We should accept that they are fine people in one way or another. From now on, I would make the comparisons not between state and private, but between schools in urban environments, rich areas and poor areas. The serious problem at the moment is that schools in poor backgrounds are not supported by anyone in any way. The serious problem is inequity in education“, adds Marcel Bartic.

What parents want from private schools

Parents who choose private schools for their children generally look for increased safety and protection, individualized attention, extensive programs including afterschool, and access to extracurricular activities.

First of all the safety zone, being smaller units, the safety zone is given more attention. Safety meaning from conditions related to the ISU, the Directorate of Public Health, security, protection, supervision during breaks and so on. Also in the safety zone may be the fact that many of the private educational units, this is also the case at the state, may have a very good internal order regulation and the dynamics of an educational unit is managed by these regulations. Another aspect could be that of the smaller number of children in the class, as a rule there are fewer children in private education classes than in those of state education, and then the teacher can pay more attention to the child. Another element can be the extended program, all units or most educational units included an afterschool program, so the children do not stay at school only for the five hours, but stay for a longer period of time. Another aspect can be that of extracurricular activities, many of the private educational units facilitate children's access to various sports activities, artistically, sciences and so on, that is, they have a more complex educational offer. Another reason could be that of the teaching staff, the fact that the parent can know before enrolling in the school which teaching staff the child will have, so it is an area of ​​somewhat predictability“, explains Christian Comșa.

However, Marcel Bartic draws attention that “in a country with a healthy economy, a healthy mentality and a healthy education system, there should be no private schools“.

Our objective would be a public education system, strong, efficient, respected, well-funded, with well-trained teachers, perhaps with a different mentality among parents. That should be our ultimate goal, not a school where private education expands. There will always be that niche of parents who will probably want to send their child to a private school. If there are parents who choose us at the moment, they do it because we are, if you will, the lesser evil. But the ideal would be for public education in this country to become strong, well-financed, respected and supported including by the political factor. You can't demand performance from an education system by throwing a few budgetary crumbs at it. The major support from Romanian society, from the political factor, must go towards public education“, points out the history teacher.

How much does private school cost?

Fees for private schools range from €4,000 to €20,000 per year. Bucharest and Ilfov have the highest density of private schools, followed by Cluj, Constanța and Iasi counties. Private high schools offer alternatives for families who avoid public high school education, offering small classes, extracurricular courses and clubs, high-performance facilities and unique profiles. There are also private high schools that offer international programs such as the IB Diploma Programme. They offer a wide range of educational options, from humanistic and theoretical profiles to bilingual and international programs.

The number of private schools in Romania has increased significantly in the last ten years, from 170 in 2011 to 315 in 2020, according to the INS.