Education trade unions have warned schools in Romania are at risk of becoming a dangerous space, which is why pupils and staff need protection
Safety in Romanian schools is back in the limelight after a teacher was stabbed on Wednesday in a Bucharest high school. A 10th grader stabbed the teacher in the throat with a pocket knife at the start of the Japanese class, for no apparent reason. The incident has sparked many reactions from both authorities and trade unions. The Education Ministry said the relevant institutions have launched an investigation, saying it will monitor the measures taken by the school both in legal terms as well as support provided to classmates who witnessed the incident. Education Minister Ligia Deca has described the assault as an alarm signal for other situations that highlight the importance of safety in schools. The school needs to be a safe space both for children and teachers, Ligia Deca argued.
In turn, the "Spiru Haret" Federation of Trade Unions has called on the Government to identify measures to prevent acts of violence in schools and tighten existing legislation. In a press release, the Federation says it is receiving reports of acts of violence and illegal drug consumption in schools on a weekly basis. Schools lack the necessary instruments to take immediate and efficient action in cases of violence targeting school employees, Federation members say. Besides, the current sanctions, which include disciplinary action and downgrading offenders' overall school conduct rating, simply don't work. This is why the Federation has called on MPs to also introduce safety measures addressing employees in the system.
In turn, the Federation of Free Trade Unions in the education system says the incident should sound the alarm for all education system stakeholders. "Schools are already unsafe. Suffice it to look at the latest acts of violence, threats, abuses or illegal substance consumption", the Federation writes in a press release. Education unionists claim the lack of swift and firm action from the authorities will make teachers afraid of carrying out their activity in schools, while pupils will be negatively impacted by those who violate school regulations. A study of World Vision Romania warned a few years back that 71% of Romanian pupils have been witnesses to or victims of violence on their way to school, during break or even class. Additionally, a World Health Organization report placed Romania in third place in a ranking of 42 European countries where bullying is a growing phenomenon. (VP)