Over 9,500 people ages 10 to 25 left Romania for good last year. The country lost the equivalent of 400 classrooms full of children, and most of them never come back, a Ziarul Financiar analysis shows.
Around 28% (9,561) of Romanians who now leave the country never to return are Gen Z, a high point for the last decade. Ten years ago, only around 5,300 Gen Zs were doing the same. However, Romania’s young are only part of the people who decide to leave their birthplace for good. Last year, over 34,000 people left Romania without having the intention to return. The increase is obvious. In 2020, there were only 21,000, and ten years ago the figure stood at 18,000.
Some young Romanians leave with their entire family, while others go abroad alone, to study. In some cases, 20% of the graduates of some of Romania’s best high schools leave and never return.
„Most go to the EU – Netherlands, Germany, France, or Great Britain. Two or three of them go to the US”, Vasile Nicoară, principal of the Mircea cel Bătrân National College in Constanţa, told ZF. “Few of them want to return after graduating,” he added.
“They will go to America, England, Netherlands, France,” said representatives of the Gheorghe Lazăr National College in Bucharest, believed to be one of Romania’s best. Other schools are witnessing a dire situation. In one case, 80% of graduates expressed a desire to go abroad now that they had finished their studies.
Some might say that Romania is reaping what it has sowed. Countries like Norway or Sweden spend 7% of their GDP on education, while Romania invests only 3% on educating younger generations. Back in 2011, a law was passed mandating Romanian governments to grant 6% of GDP to education, but it has yet to be put into effect.
A dysfunctional education system means that Romania’s best and brightest head for abroad, while those who remain receive an improper education. Romania consistently ranks highest among EU countries regarding early school leavers – 15%, above the EU average of 10%. It also has a rate of functional illiteracy – having reading and writing skills that are inadequate for daily living and for meeting the requirements of most jobs – between 42-45%. After taking into consideration the entire young population, including those who’ve left school, one researcher set Romania’s functional illiteracy at 50%.
To remedy obvious failings, Romania’s president Klaus Iohannis, along with the government, launched the „România Educată” (Educated Romania) project. Results, however, remain to be seen.