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„Re-professionalising Romania”: The launch of a national project
Roxana MAZILUIn the early ‘70s, a Romanian delegation visited some key units of the British aeronautical industry, including the Concorde works. The small group included, among others, Professor Henri Coanda. The British designers and engineers presented him with a complex problem they were working on, and asked for his advice. They were looking for a way to reduce take-off and landing noise, which exceeded the ceiling laid down in new international regulations. Coandă thought about it for a moment, then answered, “Why don’t you take it the other way round—instead of reducing the noise, try to increase it beyond what the human ear can perceive.”
This is the kind of creative, innovative thinking that we need. When we get stuck, when classic procedures don’t work, we must have the heart and the strength to take a radically different approach. This kind of thinking “outside the box” is promoted by “Re-professionalising Romania” - a national project that focuses on the role of human capital in the development process. The project was launched three years ago by the Institute for Innovation and Development Projects (IPID).
What was only a draft in 2008, when the Institute’s first report was released, is gaining a clearer outline this year, with the release of the second IPID report, entitled “The solution for Romania: People. Re-professionalising Romania II.” Unlike the first analysis, the 2009 report includes seminal contributions by high-profile figures in the Romanian science, which provide not only a strict diagnosis of the state of play in the field, but also concrete lines of action, which blend demographic, educational and research-innovation approaches.
The goal of this work, as defined by Călin Georgescu, executive director of the Institute, is to “call for a comprehensive national debate on the role and social functions of professionals in all fields, political and administrative ones included, in the next two decades.”
The crisis as an opportunity
The volume launched in the Auditorium of the Romanian Academy on March 11th also occasioned a first exercise in dialogue between politicians, scientists and civil society – who should meet a lot more often. Since “institutional opacity” is one of the flawed practices in Romania, president of the Romanian Academy Ionel Haiduc called for permanent communication between the academic community, which has the expertise and continuity, and the political community, which is always chancing and often focuses on matters of immediate interest.
March 11th also occasioned a lot of talking about the top story these days, the global crisis, viewed not only as a threat, but also as an opportunity. Indeed, painful as its forms may be, it is nonetheless a good time to radically rethink the core lines of Romania’s development.
Political scientist Cristian Pîrvulescu stressed that Romania is facing a particularly complex crisis: a moral crisis, a crisis of ideals and a political crisis, just as much as an economic one. He warned that, unless “professionalism outweighs the incompetence, we stand high risks of emerging defeated from this crisis.” Our current situation clearly proves that, in the context of the global crisis, developments in Romania also have undeniable Romanian characteristics. Although we are members of the European Union, we will not be able to overcome this critical period without having our own solution, which can only be provided by re-professionalisation. The need for a consistent nation-wide project that focuses on human resources has gained urgency because, as director Dan Puric put it, “we need to give back a sense of purpose to this nation.”
The critical role of national elites and role models was also stressed by HRH Prince Radu, who laid emphasis on the moral value and strength of character that true professionals have proved throughout the history of Romania.
A nation of more ambitious people
The meeting held in the Auditorium of the Romanian Academy was also an opportunity for political decision-makers to make substantive statements. Speaker of the Senate Mircea Geoană welcomed the initiative, pointing out that the solution for Romania is ultimately in its people, as the chief resource of any nation. He added that the report presented for public debate is both a warning signal and an invitation to build “a nation of more ambitious people.” “The worst thing would be for us to lose hope that Romania can change,” the Senate Speaker concluded. Re-professionalisation of politics is part and parcel of this innovative thinking. Romania needs more responsibility and foresight in pursuing its development goals as a European Union member country.
The key question: not “What do you know?” but “What can you do?”
This is how Academy member Mircea Malița phrases, in the report, the main challenge of the 21st Century knowledge-based society. His contribution sheds light on the ties and interdependency of education and lifelong learning programmes, on the one hand, and requirements in an always-changing labour market, on the other. Increasing the relevance of learning to actual working to one’s own benefit and for society at large ultimately provides the solution for overcoming the shortage of human capital that we are currently facing.
The entire process of human capital training and retraining in Romania is taking place against the backdrop of disquieting demographic trends. In the report, Professor Vasile Ghețău explains their current state and near-future consequences, starting from the fact that over the past 20 years Romania has lost 10% of its population, particularly because of decreasing birth rates. Consequences will include a 60 per cent increase in the number of pensioners and a 33 per cent fall in the number of working-age population. Half of this shrinking population live in rural communities, most of them employed in agriculture, which is rather obsolete for an EU member state. “A national economy develops, among others, thanks to the human capital it can rely on, and human capital is a reserve of education, professional training under various forms, preservation and improvement of health,” Professor Ghețău cautions.
Negative demographic developments can only be offset by high-quality education, but Romania is hardly any better in this respect. At present, over 50 per cent of the 15 year-old students are below the scientific literacy threshold. We got here because of the lack of foresight and flexible long-term policies that address core problems, both in the urban and, more importantly, in the rural environment. Continuing education, interdisciplinary approaches, and curricula adapted to the actual needs of society, are principles that must shape the public education and professional training policies, taking into account the ever-changing socio-economical context.
As a result of flaws in the education system and of chronic under-financing, at present the number of contributions by Romanian researchers to major scientific publications and that of patents submitted for certification is 10-50 times smaller than that in other states in the same category. Technologically advanced states are states whose political leadership and society at large have understood that 21st Century civilisation will rely increasingly on knowledge and continuing innovation, and have increased investments and budget allocations to scientific research and technological development.
The solidarity of competences
Given the quantitative losses generated by the severe demographic decrease, education and innovation are valid solutions to offset this through the quality of the Romanian human capital. Without science, education and research, Romania will never be able to meet the standards of the European civilisation. Without re-professionalisation we will not be able to adjust to changes, nor to grow. The solution for us, as a nation, is to become better, to invest in education and research, to be professional.
Participants in the meeting regarded this movement towards solidarity among true professionals in all fields, as it emerged among science elites, as a positive signal. And the fact that this movement has gained impetus in 2009, the year of the global economic crisis, is a natural and healthy response of the Romanian social organism.
In their highly valuable contributions, the authors of the report substantiate their belief that Romania has not yet lost its professionals. Although few compared to what the country needs, these professionals prove their willingness and capacity to become actively involved in solving the complex problems that the Romanian society is facing. And in this context, as Cristian Pîrvulescu states on the last page of the report, “the role of civil society, to the extent to which it is accepted as a tool for civic engineering, is not only to contain a state that becomes abusive, or to help strengthen a weak state, but also to allow for critical and alternative thinking.” The pressure of elites and civil society invites the political community to work together to improve the Romanian institutional system by radically tackling its structural flaws and through the courage of thinking “outside the box” so as to find the best solutions for Romania’s progress in a democratic and thriving Europe.
By Roxana MAZILU
Publicat în : English de la numărul 65
Comentariul nr.1 -d2b a spus în 18.04.2009 01:04:00:great point of view indeed if may I say so. There is a romanian version ( or more ) of mine from 2008.
Revolutia din decembrie 89: Pacatul originar, sacrificiul fondator este prima carte dintr-o serie de sapte volume dedicate ultimelor doua decenii din istoria României. Nu am pretentia ca sunt detinatorul unui adevar politic, juridic sau istoric incontestabil, si sunt gata sa discut si sa accept orice documente, fapte sau marturii care pot lumina mai bine sau chiar altfel realitatea. Educatia mea stiintifica si religioasa m-a ajutat sa cercetez faptele în mod obiectiv, eliberat de ura sau intoleranta. Recunosc însa o anume încrâncenare în ceea ce am scris venita din durerea unui om care a trait în miezul evenimentelor si se simte lovit de acceptarea cinica a crimelor, abuzurilor, coruptiei si minciunii, sau de indiferenta la fel de cinica cu care sunt înca privite de catre o mare parte a societatii românesti.... Am scris aceste carti de pe pozitia victimelor mintite sau speriate, care nu-si cunosc sau nu-si pot apara drepturile. Le-am scris de pe pozitia milioanelor de români cinstiti care cred în adevar, în dreptate si în demnitate. Emil Constantinescu (text preluat din Introducerea cartii).
MINTEA CEA SOCOTITOARE
de academician Mircea Malita, Editura Academiei Române, 2009 În volumul de eseuri Mintea cea socotitoare, aparut la Editura Academiei Române, acad. Mircea Malita formuleaza în crescendo o serie de întrebari grave ale timpului nostru: Daca omul este rational, de ce se fac atâtea greseli în economie
sau în politica?; Daca rationalitatea nu e de ajuns, care ar fi rolul întelepciunii?; Din viitorul imprevizibil putem smulge portiuni, daca nu certe, cel putin probabile?; Ce si cum învatam pregatindu-ne pentru viitorul nostru?; Este în stare omenirea sa îsi vindece crizele?; Ne asteapta oare un dezastru final? s.a. De-a lungul anilor, acad. Mircea Malita a staruit asupra acestor teme în lucrari recunoscute, însa acum o face raportându-se la dinamica realitatii imediate, inspirat de cuvintele lui Dimitrie Cantemir: socoteala mintii mele, lumina dinlauntrul capului. Eseurile sunt structurate pe patru parti - Mintea senina, Metaforele mintii, Mintea învolburata si Privind înainte. Finalul este de un optimism lucid care tine seama de potentialul de rationalitate si imaginatie al mintii umane si, fireste, de generatiile tinere care îl pot valoriza benefic.
Această carte de poezie este seismograful de mare sensibilitate care înregistrează cele două întâlniri ale sufletului, deopotrivă cu URÂTUL care ne schilodește ca ființă, ca neam, dar și cu FRUMUSEȚEA sufletească nepoluată ce stă ca o fântână cu apă curată pe un câmp plin cu peturi și gunoaie nedegradabile. Ce poate fi mai dureros decât să surprinzi această fibră distrusă de aluviunile istorice încărcate de lașități, inerții, apatii, compromisuri devenite congenitale ale românului? Vibrația versurilor, directețea lor, simplitatea dusă până în marginea cotidianului paradoxal n-au efect distructiv asupra tonusului moral al cititorului, ci produc neliniștea cea bună, cum ar spune Sfinții Părinți. Citești în revolta și durerea poetei un mănunchi admirabil de calități: o demnitate neînfrântă, o fiziologie a verticalității și, mai ales, o inimă creștină, o inimă din ceruri, cum ar spune poetul latin. Căci, în această inimă din ceruri, există lacrimi deopotrivă pentru românul umilit, distrus până și-n visele lui, dar și pentru copilul din Gaza, cu sufletul și trupul chircite sub șenilele tancurilor unui război ce tinde să devină mai lung decât viața lui, ale unui război-viață, lacrimi pentru copilul evreu ce nu a putut fi salvat de la deportarea bestială, lacrimi pentru Tibetul sfâșiat. Și toate acestea fără impostura unui ecumenism sentimental, ci izvorâte din acel suspin curat românesc ce face esența lacrimii creștine. (Dan Puric)
ISLAMUL SI SOARTA LUMII - Fundamentalismul islamic ca ideologie politica de Virginia Mircea "Islamul si soarta lumii - Fundamendamentalismul ca ideologie politca invita la o reflectie mai adanca asupra porceselor lumii contemporane. Judecata critica si independenta a autoarei a produs o lucrare de o veritabila investigatie stiintifica, exact la momentul in care tema tratata deseori fara solutii si perspective ocupa scena din fata a politicii si problemelor mondiale. Cititorii o pot aseza cu satisfactie in bliblioteca lor de referinta. Vor fi mult ajutati in intelegerea evenimentelor care ne sesizeaza in prezent si intr-un viitor in care tema nu se va desprinde de mersul lumii contemporane." (academician Mircea Malita)