Education in Romania: more dropouts than graduates, imminent teacher shortage

Nearly 60% of those who entered the Romanian education system in 2010 failed to complete the 12-year primary and secondary education cycle. A looming teacher shortage could make the situation even worse, as more than half of those currently active are expected to retire in 10 to 15 years.

Some 216,000 children were born in Romania in 2004, according to the National Institute of Statistics (INS). In 2010, almost 204,000 were enrolled in the first year of primary school, according to the Romanian Ministry of Education. Twelve years later, only 84,000 have managed to graduate from high school by passing the baccalaureate exam. The rest, more than 111,000 – 58.4% – had dropped out of school earlier, immigrated or retained.

The “current number of baccalaureate enrollees is the lowest in the democratic history of Romania”, said Minister of Education Sorin Cîmpeanu, quoted by

The number of graduates already tells the story of a bankrupt education system, but another crisis looms over Romanian schools – a shortage of teachers.

Currently, less than one in ten primary school teachers are under 30, according to Eurostat data cited by Economedia. Conversely, more than half are over 50, which makes their retirement inevitable in 10-15 years. The same situation can be observed in middle and high school, indicating an impending shortage of teachers in Romania.

Overall, of the more than 208,000 teachers in Romania’s pre-tertiary education system, only around 19,000 – or 9% – are between 18 and 30 years old, according to a FRAMES report.

The shortage will hit some counties harder than others. On average, the oldest teachers were in Teleorman, Gorj and Caraș-Severin, while Sibiu, Cluj, Giurgu and Bucharest had the highest proportion of young teachers.

The education system is not the only one experiencing a staff shortage. More than 1.9 million Romanians – the so-called “decreței”, or children of the decree, people born after the 1967 decree banning abortion and contraception, which led to a surge in births – are expected to retire in over the next 10 years. -15 years, leaving behind far too few younger workers than needed to cover demand.

“Unfortunately, too few young people are replacing the workforce in most economic sectors. In the industrial sector, in construction or agriculture, we will most likely bring in workers from Asia, in terms of education, the problem will be really sensitive. In this case, there will be hardly anyone to teach our children,” said Frames director Adrian Negrescu.

Despite government promises, wages in the sector remain unattractive. The lowest salary in pre-higher education is 2,647 RON (535 EUR) and the highest is 4,709 RON (952 EUR).

Meanwhile, the number of students is on the rise. For the first time since 2014, INS recorded an increase of 1,200 student enrollments compared to the previous year, totaling 3,495,800 students currently in Romania.

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(Photo source:

Helen D. Jessen