Romanians / Romanian studentsWatch
Have you ever met anyone from Romania, or do you know anything about the Romanian education system? If you have, do share your experiences in this thread.
I have level 2 and 3 (GCSE/A-level) qualifications from both the UK and Romania. I am in my second year of university in the UK now. I will talk about the educational system's structure mostly since that is the first thing you asked for.
My experience with the Romanian educational system has not been very pleasant, to be honest. It is way harder than the British system. I was predicted A*A*AB/A*A*AA for A-levels, but I had to move back to Romania, where my grades are only average or slightly above average. However, different systems suit different people; for example, a Romanian guy I met did ridiculously well in the Romanian educational system and is now failing in the British educational system while I am more or less the opposite and most people are fine in both systems.
Romanians study almost all the possible subjects a person could think of during their entire academic career. (Oh, you think 14 GCSEs are a lot? Why not try 19 GCSE equivalents, which is what every single Romanian in year 11 does?) The only time when Romanians study only 12 subjects or less is in primary school and year 13.
The only upside of having so many subjects is that Romanians do not study topics in as much detail as people do in the UK educational system. We do not really have coursework either, which is quite nice.
When it comes to subjects, in high school (years 10-13), people must choose a specialisation, which decides what their Baccalaureate exams will be on. For example, a Philology or Social Sciences student will sit exams on Romanian Language and Literature, History, and one out of Geography, Logic, Psychology, Sociology, Economics or Philosophy. A Mathematics-IT or Natural Sciences student will sit exams on Romanian Language and Literature, Mathematics, and one out of Biology, Chemistry, Physics or Programming. (There are a few other specialisations, but they are for specialised colleges in stuff like TV and media production, telecommunications, art, etc. The 4 I mentioned are the standard ones any normal high school has.) Everyone has to sit exams on ICT/computer use and a foreign language as well, those they do not count towards the Baccalaureate grade.
The assessment is quite different in Romania. We are marked on tests and listenings (in a listening, if the teacher says your name, you have to tell the teacher everything you know, either based on questions or on a specific lesson) mainly, with a few presentations and other alternative methods occasionally. We get different grades over the course of the year, which count towards our average grade at the end of the year. There are no mark schemes in general. We must have at least 5 in every subject to pass the year. If someone has, say, an average grade of 4 in maths in year 11, they must repeat year 11 as a whole, which is seen terribly in Romania. This happens regardless of the year and subject. The average grade for the year is calculated by adding all the average grades in individual subjects together and dividing them by how many they are. Those who have a certain average grade (often 8.50 or above) get a bursary. However, we also have Behaviour and those who do not have a perfect score (10) in Behaviour cannot get a bursary. It is easy to get 10 in Behaviour; just do not miss a total of 10 schooling hours and do not do anything terrible. If someone misses 10 classes or more, it is fine as long as they can justify why, e.g. with a letter from the doctor. Students who miss 40 or more schooling hours are usually expelled unless they provide good reasons for their absence.
For classes that have classes in the morning (usually primary school classes and year 13, a.k.a. 12th grade), each school day starts at 7, 7:30, 8 or 8:30 AM, depending on the school. For classes with classes in the afternoon, it starts at 12, 12:30, 1, 1:30, 2 or 2:30 PM. A day has 6 or 5 classes of 50 minutes with a 10 minute break in-between all of them (lunch time and by extension, free school meals and canteens do not exist in schools because classrooms are shared by two classes; e.g. class 9-D, a ninth grade/year 10 class, might share the classroom with class 12-A, a twelfth grade/year 13 class, so 12-A would have classes from 7 AM to 1 PM and 9-D would have classes from 1 to 7 PM). For afternoon classes, school can finish as late as 8 PM! And since there is no time for lunch, there is no time for detention either, so detention does not exist in the Romanian educational system.
Romanian schools do not have uniforms. If they have a uniform, no one ever wears it. I noticed that when I was in year 11 in the UK, my school gave us all notebooks, but Romanian schools do not do that. Instead, textbooks are provided by the school 95% of time. They make us buy them sometimes, but that does not happen often.
A minor difference is the age range. Everyone is 18-19 when they finish their high school education (one cannot sit the Baccalaureate at 17 because they turn 18 in August and go to university a month later). Most people are born between March/April of a year and March/April of the next year, though it is not rare to see a class with an age range from, say, February 1997 to September 1998. Since people cannot take qualifications early in Romania, no one can start school early or finish it early. I myself started school early at the age of 5 (Romanians start school aged 6-7), but I am the exception and have only met one other person who did this.
The reason why Romanians start school aged 6-7 is that Romania has 12 years from primary school to high school, not 13. That means year 3 in the UK is second grade in Romania, year 11 in the UK is tenth grade in Romania, year 13 is twelfth grade, and so forth. Primary school is from first to fourth grade (years 2-5). Middle school is from fifth to eighth grade (years 6-9). High school is from ninth to twelfth grade (years 10-13). Each class is named 'the number-th X', with X being a letter, e.g. class the eleventh F (eleventh grade, class F), the fifth B (fifth grade, class B), and so on. Some schools only go up to B, D, E or F, but others go all the way up to I.
Because the classes are numbered (more like lettered) and there is like no freedom of choice when it comes to subjects whatsoever, students do not change classes or classmates. Instead of going to the relevant room with the other people in their group, they sit in the classroom assigned to their class with the same people all day and the teacher comes to the class, not the other way around. There is no 'Oh, I know this person from biology/English/business studies/etc', because EVERYONE in their class (you can see it as a tutor group) is in their biology/etc class and every single other class of theirs. On the bright side, that means no walking around to find classrooms.
Everyone has a deskmate. By deskmate, I mean that there are desks with two chairs rather than individual desks, so all students must share their desk with another person. That person is their deskmate. Students can choose their deskmate 99% of the time and whenever teachers try to assign deskmates, it ends up in a small student riot. Having a deskmate is usually really cool because it is a good opportunity to make a best friend in school! The only problem is when someone is getting bullied or is not liked and no one sits with them, which makes them become even more excluded and isolated.
You know how the UK has clubs/societies, college/university newspapers, volunteering, student ambassadors, and other such cool things to get involved into during your time at that school or university? Those do not exist in Romania.
In terms of learning facilities, there are no learning facilities in schools and universities. My university has the library and study spaces, but they do not exist in Romania at all. This is part of why I chose to come to the UK instead of staying in Romania for university.
The best high schools are named national colleges and the worst are named technical colleges. Most average high schools are named theoretical high schools.
I would also say that in Romania, teachers and classmates are far less accepting and nowhere near as nice and polite as in the UK. If bullying happens, it happens and no one does anything about it. If someone comes out as anything but heterosexual, they might get made fun of (this is less prevalent in the best high schools, but it is still a thing in most high schools). If someone is even a little overweight, everyone will make fun of them. If someone does not get along with a particular group, they get branded as 'crazy', 'weird' or 'stupid' and everyone avoids them. Teachers might openly call a few problematic students out on their lies, attendance or class behaviour or even make fun of them in a worst case scenario. In fact, teachers are more likely to do nothing or side with the bullies if bullying happens, and mental health support is practically non-existent (sure, we have a school counsellor, but no one ever goes to see them).
On the topic of teachers, many Romanian teachers are really smart, but teachers as a whole are terrible at making learning interesting or engaging with their students. I have met maybe 2-3 teachers who could do this effectively in my entire 11 years of Romanian schooling. Revision methods like flashcards or learning apps are never even spoken of; the only way we are taught to learn things is by reading everything a gazillion times until they get stuck in our heads.
Personally, I do not like the Romanian educational system because it is difficult and there is no shortage of mean people.
I hope this answers your question(s) a little. If you have any specific questions, feel free to ask me.