Education Amidst Transition: The Case of Romania
DiGiacomo, Francis Anthony
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After enduring centuries of colonialism, followed recently by the exogenous forces of globalization and isomorphism, Romania and other countries in Eastern Europe have had unique opportunities amidst formidable challenges since they began their transitions toward democracy. In this case study, I explore these forces and resulting challenges that influenced the Romanian education system between 1989 and 2007. With this approach, I try to elucidate the difficulties endured by the Romanian political and education elite when transitioning the country from totalitarianism toward democracy. I conducted an extensive literature review and document analysis, coupled with in-depth interviews with the Romanian bureaucratic education elite who influenced the country's education reforms. My research investigated the complicated manner in which education plays a role in supporting a country in transition. Two central questions drove my research: (1) What factors impacted Romania's transition from a totalitarian regime toward democracy? (2) What role did education play in Romania's transition from a totalitarian regime toward democracy? My findings suggest that too many poorly constructed short-term focused reforms, developed by an elite deeply entrenched in its communist past, slowed significantly the development of a democratic education system in Romania. Exogenous forces such as colonialism, globalization and isomorphism further compounded the challenges of Romania's political transition. The elements of these findings, in addition to domestic factors such as Romania's history and culture, coupled with its nascent political system and colonized mentality, partially explain the reasons for the core of the education system remaining largely status quo.