As provided by Law on Education No. 84/1995, republished in Official Gazette No. 606/10.12.1999, part I, Art. 121, “Pupils belonging to national minorities, who study in educational units with tuition in Romanian language, shall have the possibility to study their mother tongue and the history and the traditions of the respective national minority as a school subject, at request, under the conditions of the present law”.
Starting from this legal basis, conscious of the importance of lear-ning the mother tongue to preserve, develop and express the identity of persons belonging to national minorities (the right to identity being guaranteed by Art. 6.1 of the Constitution of Romania), the Ministry of National Education took a series of measures that aim to ensure the access to the study of the mother tongue in schools with tuition in Romanian language. As orders and notifications issued in this field comprise a longer period, it is indispensable to resume them in a single public act with a coherent and unitary regulation.
I. The language and the literature of the mother tongue
1. The status of the subject “Mother tongue and literature” in schools with tuition in Romanian language
In accordance with Order No. 4150 of the Minister of National Education on the national curricula (Appendix I, par. 1.1.5. on Common trunk), Order No. 3207/03.02.1999 on the application of the new Framework plans for education beginning with 1999/2000 school year and Order No. 3113/31.01.2000 on facilitating the access to the study of the mother tongue for pupils belonging to national minorities who study in schools with tuition in Romanian language (Art. 1 and Art. 4.),
a.) Lessons of The language and the literature of the mother tongue are part of the common trunk of the framework plans and, consequently, these lessons are included compulsorily in the timetables of schools;
b.) The number of lessons devoted for this subject is 3-4 hours per week in each year of study.
c.) The subject The language and the literature of the mother tongue cannot be included in the category “at the disposal” of the school, with the exception of the case when the pupils ask to extend their knowledge of the mother tongue and already have insured 3-4 hours per week at this subject.
d.) After the option was expressed, the study of the mother tongue becomes compulsory during the entire primary and middle school cycle, and after a new option during the entire secondary school cycle.
2. Who has the right to study the mother tongue?
Any pupil who considers, or whose parents or legally appointed guardian consider that the mother tongue or the nationality of the pupils is not the Romanian has this right. It is banned to condition the access to the study of the mother tongue by a declaration on nationality, as Art. 6 of the Constitution of Romania guarantees the right to identity, and the personal data of censuses are confidential. Since the affiliation to a nationality or to a mother tongue cannot be checked, it is self-evident that any pupil of any nationality can study the language and the literature of the mother tongue if he/she and the parent or legally appointed guardian consider this is for the advantage of the pupil.
Any pupil has the right to begin the study of the mother tongue in any grade from the level of beginners.
In case a pupil or several pupils (group/form) did not study the mother tongue previously and wish to join an already existing study group/form other than beginners, they must prove knowledge of the mother tongue of the respective level by taking a language test.
3. Who and in which way can ask the setting up of groups or classes for the study the mother tongue?
According to Art. 180 of the Law on Education No. 84/1995, republished, “the parent or the legally appointed guardian shall decide on the right of the minor to study in Romanian language or in the language of a national minority”. By extending the idea, the same paragraph can be applied when the study of the mother tongue is concerned. Parents, guardians or pupils who consider that their mother tongue or nationality is other than the Romanian, or who consider themselves of other nationality, but wish to study the respective language as mother tongue, can ask to study the mother tongue.
The procedures to ask for the study of the mother tongue are different, but each aim at facilitating the access to the study of the mother tongue and the prevention of bureaucracy according to the criterion of good faith.
a.) The easiest and most frequently used method is to go ahead the request of pupils and parents. In schools with tuition in Romanian language, where it is known that there are pupils belonging to national minorities, the schools organize the framework for the study of the mother tongue. The pupils only need to enrol to the respective lessons (the parents or guardians have the possibility to withdraw the child from the respective subject if he/she does not agree with the option of the child).
b.) The parent of the legally appointed guardian requests orally the introduction of the study of the mother tongue at the meeting of the Committee of Parents. The request is registered in the minutes of the meeting and the school is obliged to take the necessary measures to create the framework for the study of the mother tongue.
c.) The pupil, the parent or the legally appointed guardian submits in writing a request for the introduction of the study of the mother tongue to the respective school.
d.) The parents who consider due to various reasons that their request is better represented by the associations and the alliances of the respective minorities, in compliance with Order No. 3113/31.01.2000 of the Minister of National Education shall inform orally the association or the alliance about it. The associations and the alliances of the respective national minorities or ethnic group nominate the pre-university educational units in which the parents and pupils are interested in the study of the mother tongue and send a notice in this respect to the educational unit and the county school inspectorate. The association or the alliance of the respective national minority or ethnic group shall draw up a list with the parents who request that their children study the mother tongue on the basis of oral declarations, on their own responsibility. If the respective school questions the authenticity of the respective list, it may request to be verified. In this case an impartial committee formed of representatives of the county school inspectorate, the Control Body of the Ministry of National Education and the General Directorate for Education in the Languages of National Minorities of the Ministry of National Education shall analyze the authenticity of the list and take the necessary steps. The association or the alliance in question has the right to delegate an observer to the procedure of verifying the authenticity of the lists.
4. When must these requests be submitted?
At any time between January 1 and May 31 as the requests concern the following school year.
5. What must the school, the school inspectorate and the Minis-try of National Education do after acknowledging the request?
In accordance with Order No. 4150/13.07.1998 of the Minister of National Education, Appendix I, par. 2/d, the school shall set up the forms or groups for the study of the mother tongue as follows:
a.) The study is organized in forms (15-25 pupils) or groups (7-15 pupils)
b.) In the case of a reduced number of pupils (under 10 pupils/cycle), the school shall notify the county school inspectorate on this fact, and the latter shall submit a request to the Ministry of National Education for the approval of setting up groups of study with an insufficient number of pupils
c.) In case of reduced number of pupils at several cycles (for ex. 3 pupils in grade I, 3 pupils in grade II and 2 pupils in grade III), simul-taneous education can be organized respecting the procedure of the former paragraph.
In case in which in a school there are less than 7 applications, the school shall report the situation to the county school inspectorate. The inspectorate shall propose for approval to the MNE the concrete modality of setting up groups or forms for the study of the mother tongue at locality or county level (the regulation and establishment of this particular case see below at I.9.c. The setting up of groups or forms for the study of the mother tongue at locality or county level).
In case until May 31 (the deadline for the requests) the pupil has already chosen a large number of optional subjects, he/she shall have to renounce to some of them. This means that together with the 3-4 lessons of mother tongue (in grades VI-VII 4-5 lessons, including the lessons of the History and traditions of national minorities - see below Chapter II), the maximum number of hours per week cannot be exceeded.
6. Who will teach the subject the Language and literature of the mother tongue?
In grades I-IV, the lessons of the mother tongue shall be usually taught by the teachers who know the mother tongue of the pupils. The teacher of the form has priority in teaching these lessons, if he/she speaks the language and belongs to the respective community. As in schools with tuition in Romanian language the mother tongue lessons are not part of the compulsory work quota of the teachers, the lessons can be paid by the hour.
In case the teacher of the form does not know or does not wish to teach the mother tongue, these lessons may be distributed to another titular teacher or substitute teacher of the school who speaks the language. The lessons may be included in that teacher's work quota in case the respective teacher does not have a full work quota in the school, or they may be remunerated by the hour if exceeding the maximum obligation.
In grades V-VIII, in vocational schools and in high schools the mother tongue lessons shall be taught by specialist teachers or personnel without a specialist qualification, but who can prove with documents or by testing that they have a good command of the mother tongue that they are to teach.
7. What is taught during these lessons?
Pupils belonging to various national minorities attending schools with tuition in Romanian shall study the mother tongue on the basis of teaching curricula approved by the ministry, of the school textbooks elaborated in compliance with them, or the authorized textbooks in conformity with Order No. 3811/1998 of the MNE.
During the study of the mother tongue the general and the operational objectives of the educational reform in Romania shall be put into practice.
Teachers shall have the right to select from the textbooks, the texts which they consider adequate for the pupils' level of knowledge, recommending for supplementary reading those which cannot be studied in the number of lessons provided.
8. How are the pupils assessed?
After stating the option for the study of the mother tongue, the pupils shall take an evaluation test in order to assess exactly the starting level.
The so-called evaluation during the school year is in conformity with the methodology of assessment. In grades V-XII, the pupils shall be given a written paper per semester in the mother tongue.
The capacity examination in the mother tongue for this category of pupils shall depend on the latitude of the school management, with the compulsory consultation of the parents and pupils.
In each case, one should keep in mind that some pupils start from a very low level of knowledge the study of their mother tongue.
9. Special cases
a.) Minorities that do not have a standard language
Pupils who belong to a national minority that does not have a standard language, and whose language the linguists consider as a dialect of a standard language, have the right to study the respective standard language. This is the case of the German minority formed of Saxons, Swa-bians, etc. that has always studied in schools with tuition in German. (The same situation is valid for the Carashovenians, who can choose Croatian, the Chango-Hungarians, who can choose the study of the Hungarian language if they want to, the Ruthenians, Hutzuls, etc. who can choose the study of the Ukrainian and for all those who consider themselves in the same situation.)
b.) The study of Romany as mother tongue
Considering the specific character of education for the Gypsy populations, the following additional provisions shall be observed:
1. The study of the Romany language can begin in any year of study or at any moment of the school year irrespective of whether they have permanent residence in the respective locality.
Likewise, the study of Romany as mother tongue can be introduced at all levels or at any moment of the school year, including the case of Gypsy pupils who do not speak the language and wish to study it.
2. Appointment of the teaching staff
In case of a limited number of teachers qualified in Romany language or in their absence, Gypsy high school graduates (with school leaving certificate) shall teach the lessons.
In exceptional cases, Gypsy high school graduates without school leaving certificate or graduates of at least 10 grades shall teach the lessons. Their payment can be assured, in conformity with the financial regulations in force, by non-governmental organization that set as a goal the schooling of the Gypsy population.
- The Gypsy pupils shall choose or not the Romany language as a supplementary subject at the capacity examination according to their option.
- In grades V-XII, the written term paper (essay) in Romany language is compulsory.
c.) The setting up of groups or grades for the study of the mother tongue at locality or county level
Usually, the study of the mother tongue is ensured at the school where the pupil studies. Still, in extreme situations, in case the total number of pupils who request the study of the mother tongue is very low (under 7 pupils), the pupils shall be distributed to a school in the locality where they can take part at courses of the mother tongue in conformity with Order 4699/14.10.1999 of the MNE (on setting up forms with tuition in Greek). In case even at the level of the locality the number of the pupils is less than 5-6, (which would justify the approval of the MNE to set up a group for the study of the mother tongue), the pupils who wish to study their mother tongue can be transferred to the closest school in the county where the respective mother tongue is studied. (For example in the case of the Greeks, the pupils from the schools of Constan?a and Br?ila Counties, as well from the municipality of Bucharest study their mother tongue at one school in Constan?a, Br?ila and Bucharest.)
In this special case, the hours assigned for the study of the mother tongue (3-4 per week) shall be distributed on two days (2 hours one day + 1-2 hours on another day). The subject is recorded in the catalogue of the school where the pupils study and in the timetable of the school. The report on the school progress of the pupils is sent by the school where the respective forms or groups are organized to the school where the pupil is enrolled.
d.) The situation of the pupils who live in two minority cultures
One of the special cases is the situation when the request for the study of the mother tongue comes from pupils who are already included in the education for national minorities. The pupils who usually come from mixed marriages and live in two minority cultures (for example the German and Hungarian cultures) have the right to study both languages. For example, a pupil, who studies in a group/form with tuition in German, has the right to request to study the Hungarian as mother tongue. Likewise, the Gypsy pupil who studies in a group/form with tuition in Hungarian or another minority language has the right to request the study of the Romany as mother tongue. In this case, the procedure to access to mother tongue is identical with the access to the study of the mother tongue in schools with tuition in Romanian language (see above). In order to prevent the overburdening of pupils, the provisions of Art. 1 of Order No. 3812/10.05.1999 on the application of the educational framework-plans for middle and secondary education in the languages of national minorities shall be implemented. In accordance with the above mentioned article, the groups and forms in question “can function on the basis of their own scheme of timetable in which the maximum number of hours per week shall be equivalent with the maximum number of hours in schools with tuition in Romanian language”. This means that the number of hours is reduced at the decision of the school.
II. The history and the traditions of national minorities
As provided by Law on Education No. 84/1995, republished in Official Gazette No. 606/10.12.1999, part I, Art. 121, “Pupils belonging to national minorities, who study in educational units with tuition in Romanian language, shall have the possibility to study their mother tongue and the history and the traditions of the respective national minority as a school subject, at request, under the conditions of the present law”, as well as Order No. 4796/10.09.1997 of the MNE “pupils belonging to different national minorities or who study in schools with tuition in Romanian, at request, shall study the History and traditions of minorities as a subject”. The request to study the mother tongue automatically means the study of the History and traditions of minorities too.
Setting up of groups/forms at these subjects is similar to the setting up of groups/forms for the study of the Literature and language of the mother tongue (see chapter I, par. 5 above).
According to Order No. 3250/12.03.1999 of the MNE on the application of the Framework-plan for grades I-VIII in 1999/2000 school year provided that compulsory education is of eight grades (appendix II), the subject is part of the common trunk of the educational Framework-plan.
According to Order No. 4796/10.09.1997 of the MNE the subject the “History and the traditions of national minorities shall be taught in the mother tongue in one hour per week in grades VI and VII for all the national minorities”. This means that each pupil who studies his/her mother tongue as a subject shall automatically study the History and the traditions of national minorities.
In conformity with Order No. 4646/23.09.1998, paragraph f.) “Reli-gion shall be taught to pupils belonging to national minorities in the mother tongue of the pupil. The alliances and the representatives of the religious denominations are invited to contribute by ensuring the specialized personnel. In school with tuition in the Romanian language this provision is valid for pupils who study the subject Language and literature of the mother tongue. In this case there is no need for further requests on behalf of the parents. The school is obliged to contact the religious denominations in order to ensure the qualified personnel.
1. County school inspectorates, the school inspectorate of the municipality of Bucharest and the management of schools shall inform the parents and the pupils of different ethnic groups on the present Methodology that shall be posted permanently in a visible and protected place so that they may knowingly benefit of their rights.
2. School principals shall communicate in advance to the county school inspectorates they belong to the required number of textbooks for the mother tongue, having permanently in view the special printing conditions (once every four years for each title) in case of reduced number of printed copies.
3. County school inspectorates and the educational units shall have the obligation to provide textbooks for minorities, transmitting correctly and in time the number of textbooks required.
4. The General Directorate for Education in the Languages of National Minorities of the Ministry of National Education through its specialist inspectors shall grant support in the correct and efficient unfolding of the teaching process of the mother tongues of the national minorities by collaborating with all the responsible and interested factors inside and outside the educational network.
5. The present Methodology, elaborated in a spirit as to enforce the present legislation, represents a framework for the entire educational network in Romania as far as the implementation without delay of the positive measures assumed by the Ministry of National Educated is concerned.
Source: Government of Romania, Department for Protection of National Minorities