«Title of Document: EDUCATION AMIDST TRANSITION: THE CASE OF ROMANIA F. Tony Di Giacomo, PhD, 2010 Directed by: Professor Jing Lin, EDHI After ...»
Title of Document: EDUCATION AMIDST TRANSITION:
THE CASE OF ROMANIA
F. Tony Di Giacomo, PhD, 2010
Directed by: Professor Jing Lin, EDHI
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.
EDUCATION AMIDST TRANSITION: THE CASE OF ROMANIABy Francis Anthony Di Giacomo Dissertation submitted to the Faculty of the Graduate School of the University of Maryland, College Park, in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy Advisory Committee Professor Jing Lin, Chair Dr. Caroline Eick Professor Mark Ginsburg Professor James Greenberg Professor Steven Klees © Copyright by Francis Anthony Di Giacomo Dedication This study is dedicated to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the peaceful leadership she demonstrates in her native Burma. I hope her bravery and character serve to inspire all democracies, transitional and developing, and the citizens who are fortunate to have them.
A dissertation is known as an arduous and sometimes lonely undertaking, as years of solitude in libraries or in front of a computer screen can leave one feeling isolated. I wish to express my gratitude and love for all those family and friends who provided emotional, intellectual and spiritual support throughout my studies and writing process.
To my wife, Anca, for allowing our home and lives to benefit from sacrifice, and for exhibiting endless patience and love.
To my family, both American and Romanian, for their support and interest in my study—to my father Frank for sparking my curiosity about the world, and to my mother Mary Clare for juggling more than gravity would allow two hands.
To Mihai Meiu, a doctor of medicine, expert coordinator and consigliere who provided cultural and transportation navigation, patience, translation, and above all, the support to make this study possible.
To Petre Lazarescu, another doctor of medicine, who housed, fed and showed me around Bucharest literally and metaphorically; for making calls on my behalf; and for maintaining your faith in the beauty of Romania.
To my grandmother, Dorothy Evans, for showing me the power of what education can accomplish.
To my advisor, Dr. Jing Lin, I am particularly thankful to you for helping refine my character and skills, enhance my compassion, deepen my spirituality and hopefully become more effective as a positive force in this world.
To my doctoral committee, I wish to express my thanks for your time and guidance whether over the phone, over coffee, or in class for your unique perspectives,
To the interviewees, while you are unnamed in this study, your openness toward me and passion and love for your country were duly noticed and appreciated. Your contribution provides, with this study, another support mechanism for Romania, other transitional democracies and future democracies with important lessons.
Table of Contents
List of Tables
List of Figures
List of Abbreviations
CHAPTER I: OVERVIEW
Relationship to Topic
Framework of Analysis
CHAPTER II: PART I: LITERATURE REVIEW:
MACRO, EMERGING CONCEPTS AND PHENOMENA
Defining Eastern Europe
Democratization: Rapid or Moderate Pace
Change in Romania: Revolution or Coup d’état?
Styles of Democratization: Perestroika
Styles of Democratization: Static Polity
Defining Democratic Education
Education and Nation Building
Conceptual and Theoretical Traditions
Defining Colonialism and Neocolonialism
A History of Colonialism in Eastern Europe: The Roman Empire
Colonialism Transforming into Neocolonialism: Romania and the Soviet Union.... 35 Colonialism’s Lingering Effects
Globalization: Modernization and Globalization Linked
Globalization and Romania
Critics of Globalization: Dependency Theory and World-Systems Theory.............. 46 Modernism and Globalization: additional critiques with a long-term perspective.. 49 Globalization: Impact on Education
The Ill-effects of Globalization: Consumerism
The European Union and Isomorphism
European Union and Romania
Isomorphism: A Summary
Exogenous Forces Conclusion
Context for Romanian Education
Economic Reform and Political Economy of Romania
CHAPTER II PART II: EDUCATION, HISTORY AND REFORM
Historical Context of Eastern Europe
Sub-Context of Eastern Europe: The Balkans
Communist Education: Education as Indoctrination, 1947-1989
Lack of Trust
Transition: Education Reform in Romania—1989 to 2007
Romanian Education Reform: Challenges
Romanian Education System Today: An Overview
History: Education Reform and the Romanian Constitution
Vague Characteristics of Article 32: Missing Factors
Importance of Article 32
Article 32 Viewed from the Symbolic Lens
European Union and the Hope for Stability
Anticipating the Bologna Process: Romanian Education Act 84 of 1995................. 89 Challenges to Democratic Reform in Romania
Beyond Act 84: Additional Insight into Romanian Reform Context
Conclusion: Romanian Education Today
Research Methods: Overall Approach and Rationale
Characteristics of This Study
Observations about Interviewees
Threats to Credibility
Limitations of the Study
CHAPTER IV: RESEARCH FINDINGS, THE IMPACT OF TRANSITION............. 123 Introduction
Between 1945 and 1989
Education Before 1989
Change in Romania: Revolution or Coup d’état?
RESEARCH FINDINGS, EDUCATION AMIDST TRANSITION
Primary and Secondary Education
Decentralization of Education
Reform and Culture
Impact of Education Policy & Law
Teachers and Teacher Education
Summary of Chapter Findings
CHAPTER VI: THEORETICAL AND PRACTICAL REFLECTIONS
Theoretical Reflections Summary
Insufficient Change: The Unaltered Core of Romanian Education
CHAPTER VII: CONCLUSION AND TOPICS FOR FUTURE STUDY
The Study’s Original Contribution
Characteristics of the Study
Possible Direction 2: Policy-making amidst transition
Possible Direction 3: Refining Indicators of a Strong Democracy
Possible Direction 4: Revisiting Democracy Exportation
Possible Direction 5: Democratic ecology
Possible Direction 6: Education to mitigate isomorphism
Topics for Further Study
Special Needs Education
Role of Development partners
Table 1: Comparative Measures Table 2: Interviewee Characteristics Table 3: Philosophical Assumptions with Implications Table 4: Emerging Categories
Figure 1: The J curve Figure 2: Transition Characteristics Figure 3: Organic Transition Figure 4: Coup Transition Figure 5: Colonized vs. Colonizers Figure 6: The Education System in Romania Figure 7: Ordinal Relationships of Phenomena Figure 8: Overlapping Impact of Phenomena Figure 9: The J curve Re-presented Figure 10: Open-curtain Policy
Act 84: Education Law of 1995 in Romania EU: European Union IMF: International Monetary Fund UN: United Nations U.S.: United States of America USAID: United States Agency for International Development WB: World Bank
The purpose of this introductory section is to provide the overview, focus, purpose, research questions, framework of analysis and potential significance of my case study. This study investigates the major trends, forces and phenomena that affected education and culture in transitional Romania between 1989 and 2007. This study explores also the nature of education as an institution with the potential to play a role in nation-building, social reproduction, cultivation of character, teaching of democracy and instilling of culture. However, in post- coup d’état Romania, the role of education was minimal as a component of transition due to competing forces that undermined education’s potential role, which may have contributed to disjointed, ineffective and illtimed policies and laws. For comprehension and clarity, this study will elucidate these forces and highlight why and how they influenced education with a discussion of the potential consequences based on evaluated literature and original interviews conducted with elite bureaucrats in Romania.
In this chapter, I lay the groundwork upon which I construct my analysis of Romania’s transition within the context of many historical and contemporary challenges.
Whereas many studies about democratic transition focus on the quality of the democracy or the process itself from a political perspective, I spotlight education when considering the transition, which provides a unique lens to view democratization and a country’s transition from one system toward another. Through this lens, and by providing a new
as well as other future transitional democracies. Moreover, even non-transitional democracies can benefit from revisiting their respective developments.
My relationship to this topic was initially based on my Eastern European ancestry.
This relationship was later strengthened by my interest in democratization, development and the integral role of education in both constructs. I hope my study elucidates for leaders in nascent, future and established democracies the importance of thinking and acting with a long-term perspective with regards to education as a component of national political development and democratic transition. Therefore, my relationship to the study is both personal and ideological, the combination of which irrevocably connects me to the outcome of this work.
The focus of my study was guided by the following questions:
(1) What factors impacted Romania’s transition from a totalitarian regime
These questions remain unanswered in the literature in terms of exploring the causes behind Romania’s transition in relation to changes in public and private education, and how the transition may have differed from other countries in Eastern Europe. For
Poland and Slovenia all liberalized their economies and moved quickly toward a democratic government and democratic society. Meanwhile, countries like Romania and Bulgaria were slower to transition: their Perestroika approach to reform involved a very slow, calculated shift from a closed and controlled government toward an open and democratic government, despite the passage of many reforms and policies. Moreover, the role of education is not adequately explored in the literature and possibly insignificant in supporting the transition. The question of whether education was a critical factor in a country’s transition toward democracy was not clearly delineated, nor was the issue of whether transitions were slowed by the failure to use education as an agent of rapid change.