Brief Summary of the Doctoral Thesis by tyndale


                          FAMILY PROTECTION AND EDUCATION

       Babes-Bolyai University, Faculty of Public Administration, Sf.Gheorghe, Romania

       The paper focuses on the analysis of family allowances and educational social policies in
Romania, after the 1989 Revolution, their linkages with governmental politics and their image in
the written press. My assumption was, that after 18 years of democratic government and social
policy development, Romania failed to develop a complex social protection system, and lacks those
programs, resources and regulations which could include the country in the welfare-states family.
       The Romanian social policy after 1989 has a very strong residual aspect, with a low level of
precisely targeted groups, lack of social development strategy, causing social exclusion and
inequity. The press representation followed the practical achievements of the political elite,
appreciating the efforts and blaming the passive helplessness of the governing political parties.

       The experience of the last decades proved that social policies might have essential roles and
functions, such as: economic and social development, social inclusion and integration, support for
the poor, improving the living conditions and the quality of life of the population. All these aspects
of social policies are directed toward a general aim: an acceptable level of life quality permits for
the individual affirmation in the society, access to education, health care and a decent job, respect
for human dignity, a high level of social inclusion and civic participation, all this ensuring
satisfaction and personal happiness.
       When we analyze societal aspects, we have to take into consideration the main
characteristics of the capitalist welfare state. Welfare states provide support not only for the poor,
but they run social services for the whole population or for different social groups. By and through
this strategy, the welfare state tries to apply and to promote the concept of social citizenship,
something new and controversial in the political discourse. The reason for this controversy is the
distinction made among citizens, foreigners, refugees and residents. EU member states introduced
the same social rights for every individual, citizen of a member state and having residence permit.
Other states provide only a few social services for their non-residents.
       Despite the different social policy paths chosen by different states, a welfare state is not a
political entity based on perfect equality. Welfare state realizes distribution and redistribution at the
highest governmental level, including income, goods and services. Welfare states are not based on

charity, but on the contribution of almost every individual in the society. For the system to function,
everybody has to contribute and to sustain it, according to his or her possibilities. There is a need
for social solidarity and a highly achieved consensus among the members of the society, because
only in this way can public goods be produced and can serve the public interest.
       Welfare state development, and one of its basic components – distribution – would not have
been possible without a certain level of administrative organisation and political decision.
Economic-, education-, labour-, family- and other public policies are, in fact, a consequence of
those administrative processes, which combine political will and commitment, resulting in various
decisions, programs and institutional behavior.
       The social aspects of public policies are incorporated in, and represent a major dimension of
governmental decisions, at each governmental level. It can take forms, like: protection of families
with children, single parents allowances, health protection, unemployment benefits, providing equal
opportunities in education by eliminating social exclusion, introduction of a minimum wage or
pension etc.
       When analysing Central- and Eastern-European social policies, we have to rely on the fact
that freedom and stability for these nations arrived only after the fall of Berlin Wall, but their
consolidation is still an open question, and one of the most controversial point is the relationship
between those internal and external forces which shaped and directed the governments` position
toward adopting certain social policy measures.
       All social policy experts admit that the first period of transition was characterised by a
“reactive” policy-making, trying to resolve the suddenly emerging negative consequences of the
economic and social changes which occurred after the collapse of the communist regime. This was
also the case of Romania, where the transition period was dominated by not only ad-hoc, sometimes
irrational social measures, but very often adopting the        “passive” method, postponing social
problems, or even not taken them into consideration.
       According to Manning (2004), there are three stages in the evolution and development of
social policies in Eastern-Europe.
       The first phase comprised the period between the collapse of the communist regime and the
first democratic elections in each country. Unemployment benefits have been introduced, covering
more or less the unemployed population. Some countries offered a very generous unemployment –
benefit scheme, but after a few years, the benefits were cut-down, or their value had undergone a
high depreciation. The eligibility criteria were modified and became time-framed.
       The second urgent need was to operate changes in the pension system, which comprised
several inadequacies and injustices. The pension reforms lasted for several years, each country
choosing a different path of development. The innovative and highly appreciated pension system of

Chile, based on a three-tier system – enforced by the World Bank – was introduced only in a
couple of countries – Hungary, Poland, Croatia, Czech Republic – and despite the efforts of the
countries in the region, many of the peculiarities of the old pension system, like those involving a
universal orientation in pension insurance and the existence of special provisions for determined
professional groups, such as farmers, military personnel, or war prisoners are still valid (Deacon,
2000; Popescu, 2004).
       Democratic elections are the starting point of the second phase, marked by the beginning of
hardships of the economic transition in the region, like the decreasing of GDP, rising of inflation,
the worrying increase of poverty rate percentages. The negative development of these economic
indicators called for an urgent need to change the government perception of the social problems.
       The third phase is considered to emerge at the end of the `90s, with some countries, like
Poland, Hungary, the Czech republic and Slovenia – taking the lead in this process. It was evident
by then which countries will join the EU in the first Eastern-European enlargement process,
therefore there is a visible change in their social policy orientation in order to fulfill the EU`s
requirements. The social policy orientation of the first Eastern-European countries joining the EU
were mainly influenced by the European model, while the Romanian and Bulgarian social policy
net development was influenced by the International Monetary Fund and The World Bank (
Manning, 2004; Jordan, 2006; Deacon, 2000), adapting a social policy construction based on a
liberal ideology.
       In the following pages I will analyse the family protection system and educational policy
achievements in Romania between 1990–2008, and their representation in the written press.

Social policy between 1990–1992

       Shortly after the Revolution of 1989, fragile non-communist coalitions followed the
dictatorial regime of the Ceausescu family. The political ownership passed to the National Salvation
Front (FSN) of Ion Iliescu drew up an impressive economic and social program, which was backed
up not only by the political parties, but also by the IMF and WB. The governmental program
explicitly stated the commitment of the governing political forces to achieve a welfare state based
on social solidarity and equity. According to the FSN, the educational policies should focus on
social objectives, like: promoting non-discrimination and equal opportunities, providing access to
free education for every child; providing scholarships; the autonomous governance of higher
education institutions; new public education legislation; development of the statute of teachers and
university professors.

       The family protection ideas were centered around the following provisions: extension of the
kindendergarten and day nursery system; protection of young families; reduction of women`s
housework (!).
       Immediately after the dramatical changes of 1989, the National Salvation Front introduced
benefits mostly for those segments of the population, which were left out from the previous social
protection system. On the other hand, the hardships of the transition period resulted in the
deterioration of the family protection system and the erosion of cash benefits. At the end of 1993,
most state subsidies were cut-off and many of the Romanian families ended up in poverty. The
family protection system had the following components: maternity leave and maternity benefit up to
one year; state allowance for children up to the age of 16 (26 in case of attending university
courses); birth grant; tax allowance for families with at least one child; benefits for families with
handicapped children, introduced in 1992. Some of these measures had a controversial effect or
were discriminatory. The state allowance for children excluded the families working in agriculture,
and the tax allowance favored families with higher monthly income, instead of addressing to the
poorer ones.
       Education-related social protection measures lacked the necessary vision and strategy during
the first decade after the fall of communism. The first reforms in education were aimed at the
introduction of structural measures and did not concentrate on human capital components. As a
primary objective, the first democratically elected government established narrow scholarship-
schemes and certain cash benefits, which targeted mostly the poor, the orphans, military and police-
officer students, or pupils enrolled in vocational schooling. The amount of scholarships provided for
pupils enrolled in primary, secondary education and university level could not exceed 1 – 5 % of the
total number of students enrolled in a specific educational institution.
       University students were granted cash allowances if they had serious infectious diseases, or
they went on a maternity leave, for summer holiday camps and for their educational performances.
       A serious outbreak in the scholarship scheme was accomplished in 1991, when the income-
tested scholarship was introduced both in primary, secondary and university education. In the same
year, pupils enrolled in public education, living in localities other than where their educational
institution, could get travel compensations. Poor students received textbooks and free school

Social policy between 1992–1996

        The Romanian Party of Social Democracy – PDSR – became the successor of the FSN,
assuming the achievement of the welfare state, based on universal benefits. Much had been
declared, nothing was done. The party did not have either a well-defined family policy strategy, nor
a child-benefit scheme. They envisaged an early retirement pension for those women who had at
least 25 years of labour, but family protection from the point of view of the party was not an
essential and urgent issue.
        Their educational strategy prioritized the handicapped pupils and those who lived in remote
areas. They stressed the importance of adult education and the provision of free books for students
enrolled in public schools.
        The family protection system encountered serious problems in this period, because the
PDSR government put an end to two very important components: in 1993, the government ceased
to provide tax allowances for families with children, which lead to the decreasing of social transfers
with 60 % (Zamfir – Pop – Zamfir, 1994). In 1995, families with more than three children did not
receive anymore any kind of social allowances, causing the poverty slope rise considerably.

Table 1. Family protection between 1990–1996
Year      Real value of      Percentage of the         Percentage of state      Percentage of the       Family
             the state         state allowance    allowance for children (%)   state allowance for     protection
          allowance for      for children in the                               children compared        benefits
             children         social protection    1 child        3 children     to the real wage    compared to the
                                    system                                                              GDP *
1989             100                   –                –               –            10,44                3,1
1990            97,8                  9,8             100             100             9,73                3,8
1991            59,1                  4,7             90,7            65,1            7,20                1,9
1992            38,4                   3              48,1            34,6            5,37                1,3
1993              29                   3              44,8            28,5            4,87                 1
1994              25                  3,1             27,4            17,2            4,18                1,1
1995            28,6                  2,3              31             19,1            4,25                0,8
1996            28,6                  2,1             29,8            18,4            3,88                0,7
* state allowance for children, birth grant, maternity allowance
Source: Zamfir(1999): Politici sociale în România: 1990–1998, p.294–295.
         Chirca, Constantin–Panduru, Filofteia (2001): Trends and Indicators   on Child and Family Well-Being in
Romania.Country Paper, Unicef Innocenti Research Centre, Florence, p.16

        In 1993, the state allowance for children was universally extended, but there were still pupils
who were left out from the system, namely those who were enrolled in private education.
        The data analysis highlights the fact that family protection in this period failed to fulfill its
function, each components` replacement power encountering massive depreciation.
        The massive construction of the educational system supported important changes beginning
with 1992. Due to the World Bank and Phare program support, the educational development funds
highly increased in this period.
Table 2. Educational investments 1990–1996
                  1990          1991           1992           1993           1994           1995        1996
Educational        100          124,1           55             90            160,6          179,6        317

Source: Chirca, Constantin–Panduru, Filofteia (2001): Trends and Indicators on Child and Family Well-Being in
Romania. Country Paper, Unicef Innocenti Research Centre, Florence, p.18.

        Enrollment rate increased considerably in primary education and at the university level, but
in secondary and tertiary education there was a considerable negative tendency in attending
different forms of education, and a high rate of drop-outs (NHDR, 2000). Considerable positive
outcomes show figures about the government`s effort to provide support mostly for schools in rural
areas, World Bank(1997). In Table 3. one can observe that among social policy measures addressed
to support the poorest segment of the population, educational policies were the best targeted.

Table 3. The compensation rate of social policies in the household consumption of the poorest 20 % of the

                       Education                                                     18,1
                      Health-care                                                     9,2
                   Family allowance                                                   6,4
                    Unemployment                                                      6,2
                       Social aid                                                     1,1
                    In-kind benefits                                                  0,2
                         Other                                                        0,5
                   Primary education                                                 11,9
                  Secondary education                                                 5,4
                   Higher education                                                   0,8
                     Hospital care                                                    5,7
                    Outpatients care                                                  1,5
                      Rural clinic                                                    1,9

Source: World Bank (1997): Romania. Poverty and Social Policy,vol.I-II. Report No.16462, p.65.

        The government introduced changes in several fields of education. The scholarship scheme
had undergone a major reform, several student categories received a certain amount of cash
benefits: families with more than three children, students who had outstanding performances in
educational competitions, income-based scholarships, descendants of a revolutionary hero.
        In 1995, the so much waited educational reform law was passed by the PDSR government.
The law promised a very generous cash and in-kind allowance system for pupils and students, but
almost nothing was achieved. Students who previously received both educational and social
scholarships, were not eligible anymore for both, student campuses were closed, cash benefits for
school equipment and transportation withdrawn, the hot meal promised for primary schoolchildren
never administered, payments for students` traineeship forgot to honour.
Social policy between 1996–2000

        In the third parliamentary elections of 1996, the central-right wing coalition, named
Democratic Convention of Romania – CDR – won the majority of the seats, promising a
revitalisation not only of the political agenda, but the social aspects of the society. The already
crashed Romanian economy, governed by a deeply corrupt political elite, having a strong
connection of the newborn oligarchy, was hard to set aside, which was one of the reasons why the
coalition of several democratic groups and political forces failed to achieve its governmental
        The CDR believed in a liberal, residual-based welfare state, where social protection should
be administered by the state, but with a strong implication of the market forces and civil society
actors. Using this perspective, several social services were delegated to local authorities, but in
those chaotic circumstances and administrative conditions, without a well-defined, proper
legislation, and a constant lack of funds of the local authorities, the social protection system did not
        The coalition`s governmental program consisted of several provisions related to family
protection: they promoted a two-year maternity leave with a corresponding funding scheme;
mothers who raise their children and do not work should receive a monthly allowance; state
allowance for children should be considerably increased; widows with children should receive
monthly cash benefits.
        Education remained a priority, compulsory education being tuition-free, allocating
considerable amounts of funds. The coalition prioritised higher education, the development of
university campuses, and the opportunity of orphans and poor students to get access to education.
        According to their promises, the CDR raised considerably the state allowance for children in
1997. The well-intended measure did not reach its goal, because of the high inflation rate, the 10,5
% allocated sum was lower than the amount registered in 1989, compared to the social protection
expenditures (Zamfir, ed., 2001).
        In the same year, a new family protection scheme complemented the social safety net:
allowance for families with more than two children. According to the data, the replacement rate of
this cash benefit decreased by each year, being one of the visible outcomes of the high inflation.

Table 4: Percentage of child allowances compared to average income
                                        1996           1997             1998          1999          2000
State allowance for children            3,88             7,4             6,2           4,3           3,2
State allowance for families with         –             13,7            10,1            7            5,5
more than two children
Source: Zamfir (ed. 2001): Poverty in Romania: Causes, Anti-Poverty Policies, Recommendations for Action.
UNDP Report, Bucureşti.p. 28.

       The negative aspect of this measure was the conditioning of the allowance upon the
enrollment of the child in a public school. Because of this regulation, it is considered that about 10
% of the families in need did not receive this kind of benefit (Mărginean, 2004).
       Also in 1997, a two-year maternity leave regulation, accompanied by the 85 % of the basic
salary, was adopted and introduced by the government. Although this measure was of high
importance for families, many mothers preferred to work instead of accepting the benefits of this
social measure, fearing they will loose their jobs. Complementary to this reglementation, after three
years, fathers could take five days off from their working places, to assist take care of their new-
born child.
       At the end of their mandate, the coalition introduced the insurance-based benefits package,
but these measures were applied and implemented by the next government.
       The educational law outcomes, adopted in 1995 became visible in the upcoming years.
Education was among those public policies of the period which encountered a positive
development, mostly in infrastructure adjustments. The enrolment indicators became higher, except
the tertiary and vocational education. This is a consequence of the restructuring of the compulsory
education from ten to eight years, and of the fact that vocational education lost its attractiveness,
becoming almost stigmatised.
       Another negative aspect related to the inefficient and ineffective state intervention into
education can be easily identified in rural areas, where many pupils and students could not afford
anymore to pay the high cost of transportation, textbooks and the everyday expenses necessary to
attend an educational institution outside their residence, therefore the dropout-rate among them was
much more higher, both in tertiary education and at University level.
       According to the educational law from 1995, the educational institutions should provide
transportation costs and a hot meal for primary school students, but this was not the case, as
theeducational institutions could not afford to honour these commitments, due to the lack of funds.
       Less funds were available for education, less students were attending school, a fact having
evidence in the number of students living in a boarding school, which halved by 1999, compared to
1990 (Romanian National Statistical Yearbook, 1995, 2001).
       Although the government tried desperately to compensate economic losses in education by
changing and modifying the scholarship schemes and their eligibility, the real value of these cash-
benefits were lower than during the previous governmental period.
       In table 5., one can see a high decrease of educational investments and scholarships, and a
smaller decrease in financing educational textbooks and didactical tools.

Table 5: Educational expenditures between 1998–2000 ($PPP million)
                                       1998                          1999                     2000
Textbooks, didactical tools             8,6                           5,3                      8,3
Scholarships                           44,7                          28,5                     33,2
Renovation                             87,1                          16,8                     12,8

Source: Ministerul Educaţiei şi cercetării (2002): România-propuneri de politică educaţională. Sinteze din
Raportul Băncii Mondiale.

         The lack of finances and funding is mainly responsible for the increasing disparities between
urban and rural areas, rural schools and rural population starting to experience under-funding, and
restricted access to education.

Social policy between 2000–2004

         In November 2000, the Romanian Party of Social Democracy – PDSR – came to power
again, with a remarkable 37 per cent of electoral support. The government was formed by a left-
wing coalition, where extreme left and social-democratic parties joined together to shape the
country`s new development paths. The governmental program stressed the importance of: new
social protection mechanisms for families; a minimum subsistence allowance, precisely targeting
those in need; increased state allowance for children and the amount of minimum wage;
diversifying the support for families with children of schooling age; introduction of supporting
measures for young families, making it possible for them to acquire state loans to buy a house or
other industrial goods; development of new financial mechanisms for family protection schemes
and for the introduction of new social services; promoting gender equality; safeguarding measures
concerning the protection of motherhood; protection of children`s rights; diversification of
measures adopted for the protection of children with special needs; extension of the compulsory
primary education; organising and developing lifelong learning mechanisms; development of the
higher education sector.
         In the educational field, a special focus was oriented toward socially excluded children:
providing incentives and measures for poor families in order to send their children to school, eg.
providing a hot meal, introducing day-care facilities for primary school children, cash benefits for
educational tools, and raising the protection level of poor families.
         The educational priorities targeted rural areas, the infrastructure of schools and human
capital development. It was envisaged the construction of more than one hundred sport facilities in
rural areas and the provision of free transportation of children commuting to schools.
         At university level, the government planned to build student campuses, and the price of a
monthly rent to be funded between 20-50 % by the state. The lifelong learning programs and adult

education courses were planned to be extended, and those pupils and students whose income was
lower than the average wage/economy, were provided with free summer holiday camping
        Another innovative policy was the introduction of IT technologies in the educational
        Looking at the broad guidelines of the governmental programs, one can notice that
compared to the previous political forces, this coalition had clearly developed a strategy comprising
several innovative elements, considered by many scholars as having been introduced for the reason
of the EU accession.
        The family protection system in this period can be considered as being one of the most
successful, indicating a real commitment of the political authority to raise the quality of life of its
citizens.The social insurance-based social protection system, adopted in 2000, came into force, the
amount of maternity benefits for the mother`s depended on the previous employment period.
Parents now had the opportunity to take care of their sick children until the age of seven, and of
handicapped children, until the age of 18. Parents can take fourteen days off/year, making use of
their sick children benefit.
        Family allowances were modified. On the one side, the family allowance for children
remained an universal benefit, eligible for every child, but the allowance for families with more
children and the one-parent families` benefit became income-tested, targeting only the poorest
segment of the population. Those families` allowances which were receiving social benefits, were
raised with 25 %. There is a visible cut-off of the birth-allowance, because the government provided
it up to the fourth child, families with more children did not receive it.
        Although the family protection system was diversified trying to respond and to adapt to the
new circumstances (see table 6.), UNICEF (2001) evaluated the period between 1991–2001, as
being one in which families with more than three children became the poorest in the Romanian
society, their poverty rate being between 58,4 % – 68,3 %.

Table 6: the effectiveness of the state allowance for children, between 1996–2001
                                       1996               1997              1999             2000            2001
Targeting the poor %                   46,9                51,2             53,7             53,9            53,2
Targeting %                             28                 39,6             45,3             48,3            43,1

Source: Popescu (2004): Politicile sociale est-europene între paternalism de stat şi responsabilitate individuală.
Cluj-Napoca, p.189.

        The high increase of the state allowance for children in 1997 is due to the newly introduced
allowance for families with more than two children, but their value rapidly eroded due to the
        One of the major achievements of the coalition was the adoption of the law regulating
motherhood in the working place, entered into force in 2004. The law introduced several provisions
which were missing from the Romanian social protection, like: days-off for pregnant women who
work in dangerous working places; night-shift work for pregnant women is forbidden; at the
doctors` recommendation, reduction of the working time by two quarters, receiving the wage for
total working hours; 16 hours/ month for medical examinations; at least 42 days of child-bearing
leave; breast-feeding time; keeping the working place of the mother until she is on maternity leave.
        The left-wing coalition has introduced several innovations in the field of education.
Beginning with 2001, the government provided free transportation for commuting pupils enrolled in
primary education and       in 2002, the social inclusion law appeared, promoting free access to
education for everybody. Therefore, pupils whose families received social assistance, were given
scholarships, and 40 % of this yearly amount could spent for educational tools at the beginning of
the school year.
        For illiterate adults, the Ministry of Education introduced special educational courses to
combat illiteracy, and the poor university students received scholarships and free summer holiday
camping possibilities. To develop research and innovation, the government established a research-
fund, designed for Universities.
        The “roll and milk” program proved to be very successful, introduced for every pupil in
primary education, intended to compensate a certain proportion of the daily meal. Poor children
received free textbooks and educational tools.
        Those adults who could not graduate from the secondary school, could attend special
courses organized by the County Inspectorates at local level to obtain their diploma.
        Romania committed itself to respect and to promote those values and principles which were
adopted in 2000, in Nice, related to combating poverty and discrimination. To achieve this, the
government introduced several measures and initiated projects designated to the rehabilitation of
education in rural areas.
        Since 2001, students originating from rural areas can get a scholarship, on the condition they
return and work in their home village for as long period as they received the scholarship.
        Starting from 2004, educational institutions, which did not have land to use for educational
purposes, were allowed to require between 1–10 hectares land from the local councils.
        Teachers were also included in the rural development educational strategy. They could
attend mentoring courses, and educators had the possibility to attend distance learning courses.

Rural school libraries received considerable support and the schools were provided with educational
equipment and tools for improving their offer.
       A considerable success was the computer-buying-allowance an amount of 200 Euro, which
could be claimed by every student, and the so-called-high-school money, allocated to students with
a modest income.

Social policy between 2004–2008

       In the elections of 2004, the government coalition changed again, formed by a liberal
conservative union, comprising several political parties. Their governmental programs incorporated
the previous measures of the former government, introducing only a few new elements. They
envisaged increasing the protection of families with more children, raising the amount of family
allowances, providing tax allowances and cheaper family-holiday programs, and also a food-store
chain for large families, offering foodstuffs at a cheaper price. Young families should receive a cash
benefit which amount to 200 Euro, and poor rural families who owned not more than 0,5 hectare
land. Development of rural day-care institutions for children was another priority of the newly
elected government.
       The educational system constantly received a special attention, developing the infrastructure
and the quality of education. The coalition proposed the introduction of educational loans, an
extensive scholarship system, joint cooperation of the private businesses and local authorities, and
access to education. Teachers and educators, mostly from rural areas, received a special attention by
providing access for them to attend training courses, cash benefits for books and educational tools,
vocational training.
       Beginning with 2006, the liberal-conservative coalition raised considerably the sum of
parental leave cash benefit, and without taking into consideration the insurance principles,
everybody received the same amount of allowance. Also beginning with 2006, the government
introduced the so-called day-care tickets, available for those parents who did not receive entirely the
parental leave benefits because they returned to work.
        After one year, the government modified the state allowance for children system, every
child under two year received a considerable amount of money, and pupils older than two a
negligible benefit. Baby trousseau was expected by the law-makers to be delivered in form of
clothes, but this was later changed to a certain amount of cash-benefit.
       Looking at the data table, we can see, that except the state allowance for children, the family
protection was successful in the period 2000–2006. Considering the MONEE (2007) data about
birth (-1.9), we can say that for fewer children, the funds allocated for family protection increased.

Table 7: family protection funds between 2000–2006
                                  2000     2001        2002       2003       2004        2005      2006

Percentage       of      family    10       10,3       11,7       11,5        10,4       10,2       10,2
protection compared to social
protection *
Percentage of state allowance     97,2      97,5       95,3        95         95,1       93,6       93,9
for children in the social
protection system
Percentage of birth-grant in      20,2      21.4        1,9        1,9        1,5         1,8       1,9
the social protection system**

Child-allowances in the social    0,6       0,5        0,45       0,50        0,8         1,0        –
insurance expenditure scheme
(million RON)

Source: * EUROSTAT database
       ** since 2002the birth-allowance financed by the local councils, were administered by the state budget.
The data are calculated based on the Romanian National Statistical Yearbook (2006).

           The educational policy of the Romanian government in the last 18 years has been one of the
most often changed and re-evaluated fields of public policies. Succeeding governments introduced,
innovated, implemented cut-offs and re-evaluated programs, laws, measures and strategies. The
liberal-conservative coalition followed the same pattern, certain allowances and benefits were
redesigned and the eligibility criteria narrowed. In order to line up with the social policy orientation
of the EU, the Alianta D.A. coalition focused on promoting equal access to education, trying to
implement regulations directed toward the poorest members of the society, and to develop human
           University students from rural areas could receive, since 2005, a social scholarship and a
special scholarship. Teachers and educators receive a 100 Euro grant for books and educational
resources, commuting school children get their transportation fees paid by the state.
           Although the educational facilities improved in the previous years, there are urgent needs in
terms of improving the quality of education. The enrolment rate of those between 15-18 years old is
very low, only 25 % of students in rural areas are enrolled in some form of tertiary education. There
are serious gaps in the lifelong learning and continuous education process, only 1,6 % of the adults
are enrolled in a form of a training course, compared to 9,9 % in the EU 25 (WB, 2007).

The representation of social policies in the written press

           This section comprises the final results of a research based on the relationship between
social policies and governmental attitudes toward them. I was interested in finding out the

sensitivity of the press to the social problems of the Romanian society, which were those social
aspects which gained the most attention and how these social problems were represented.
I selected two national newspapers, the Romanian Adevărul and the Hungarian Romániai Magyar
                  Using the method of content analysis, I used the following steps:
                  a) I counted all the articles referring to the selected fields, and I labelled them as being
                            positive, negative or neutral, according to their emotional tone.
                  b) In the selected articles, I identified those ones, which have social policy components. I
                            counted the percentage of the articles referring to social policies in the total number of
                            articles dealing with social problems.
                  c) I counted the percentage of social policy articles, and I obtained the data about the press
                            preferences, in all five governmental periods.
                  d) Using the comparative method, I evaluated those governments which respected their
                            social commitments included in their governmental program and I analysed the way the
                            written press appreciated it.
                  The proportion of social policy articles related to the information about societal problems in
the press has the following representation:

                                Proportion of social írások százalékos aránya a problems of the society (%)
                                Szociálpolitikai policy articles to articles dealing withtársadalompolitikai
                                                      írások arányához viszonyítva

           %            80

                        60                                                                               Magyar Szó
                        40                                                                               Adevarul
                                 1990-1992     1992-1996    1996-2000     2000-2004     2004-2008

                  Educational policies are viewed in this way:

                                       Educational policies in Romaniai Magyar Szó -ban
                                 Oktatáspolitika a Romániai Magyar Szo (%)


                       50                                                                           Pozitív
                       25                                                                           Semleges
                                 1990-        1992-        1996-        2000-       2004-
                                 1992         1996         2000         2004        2008

                                       Oktatáspolitika az Adevarul-ban
                                          Educational Policies in Adevarul (%)

   %          60


                         1990-1992 1992-1996 1996-2000 2000-2004 2004-2008

                 Family protection according to the press evolved as follows:

                                           Family protection Magyar Szó-ban
                                        Családpolitika ain Romaniai Magyar Szo (%)

                  % 80

                               1990-      1992-        1996-         2000-       2004-
                               1992       1996         2000          2004        2008

                                            Family protection in Adevarul-ban
                                         Családpolitika az Adevarul (%)

              %          60

                         40                                                               Negatív
                         20                                                               Semleges
                              1990-      1992-        1996-         2000-        2004-
                              1992       1996         2000          2004         2008

                 There is a visible increase in those measures, allowances and benefits which make up the
Romanian social policy net, between 1990–2008. Although Romania needed more time than its
neighbors to cope with its economical and social problems, the succeeding governments introduced
and developed a social safety net which is much more sensitive to social needs than it was in the
`90s. There is a strong correspondence between political decisions and the attitude and behaviour of
the decision-makers to the content and nature of press articles. The press tried to inform – more or

less successfully – the citizens about the new laws and regulations, about welfare provisions,
criticizing, appreciating or adopting a neutral point of view.
                   Since 1990 until 2008, the social policy topics increased considerably, following the
evolution of the social policy net.

                           A szociális fogalmi háló alakulása 1990-2008 között
                    Evolution of social policy topics in the press, between 1990–2008 (Number of topics)

     témák száma

                                                                                                   Magyar Szó
                           1990-         1992-         1996-         2000-        2004-
                           1992          1996          2000          2004         2008

                   As an overall conclusion, I can affirm that:
                   1. From a political perspective, the Romanian governments did not have an essential role in
directing the evolution and the development of social policies. After 1989, the political parties
concentrated their efforts on launching the economy, and were not interested in the continuously
aggravating social conditions of the society. At present, Romania is a country based on political
pluralism and different ideological orientations, and every political party included in their political
program social objectives, striving to achieve them.
                   2. The Romanian social policy, promoted by different governments in the past 18 years, was
not directed toward the general development of the society. It still lacks a developed social
protection system, including regulations, programs, resources, in order to help those in need.
                   3. The Romanian social policy after 1989 has a very strong residual aspect, with a low level
of precisely targeted groups and a high level of socially excluded population. The system promotes
inequity by favoring certain groups and the value of social benefits is very low.
                   4. Considering the governments` commitment toward their social policy objectives, I ranked
them as follows:

           Alignment to the      Family Protection           Education
1               PDSR                Alianţa D. A          PDSR 2000/2004
              2000/2004              2004/2008
2            Alianţa D. A.             PDSR                Alianţa D. A.
              2004/2008              2000/2004              2004/2008
3                CDR                    CDR                    CDR
              1996/2000              1996/2000              1996/2000
4                FSN                    FSN               PDSR 1992/1996
              1990/1992              1990/1992
5               PDSR                   PDSR                    FSN
              1992/1996              1992/1996               1990/1992

    5. The representation of social policies in the written press has the following conclusions:
           a) The Adevărul newspaper shows higher sensitivity towards social problems.
           b) Educational policies were more mediatized than family protection.
           c) The majority of the articles published in both newspapers are neutral, because they
              refer to social policy regulations and laws.
           d) Between 1990–1992, the positive articles were dominant, negative tone was
              observed between 1992–2004, followed by an optimistic view after 2004.
           e) Considering the practical know-how of the political governments, the press
              evaluated the activity of the political elite in this way:

                     Family Protection       Education
                       Alianţa D. A         Alianţa D. A
positive                2004/2008            2004/2008
                     PDSR 2000/2004        FSN 1990/1992
                      CDR 1996/2000       PDSR 2000/2004

positive                  FSN              CDR 1996/2000
negative                1990/1992

negative             PDSR 1992/1996       PDSR 1992/1996

              f) According to the promoted social policy and compared it with its representation in
    the press, I obtained the following results:
                Rank                               Social Policy              Press preferences
                 1                                    PDSR                      Alianţa D. A.
                                                    2000–2004                    2004–2008
                 2                                 Alianţa D. A.                    PDSR
                                                    2004–2008                    2000–2004
                 3                                     CDR                           FSN
                                                    1996–2000                    1990–1992
                 4                                     FSN                          CDR
                                                    1990–1992                    1996–2000
                 5                                    PDSR                          PDSR
                                                    1992–1996                    1992–1996


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***** EUROSTAT database
***** Adevărul, 1990–2008
***** Romániai Magyar Szó, 1990–2008


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