Education and Care in Communist Romania

Nicolae Ceausescu was President of Romania from 1974 to 1989. He exercised complete control over the nation. His wife, Elena, considered herself to be the "mother" of Romania.

Eager to enhance the strength and prestige of Romania, the Ceausescus hit upon a plan to enhance the vitality of Romanian children through state intervention. Their effort was described in an academic journal:

[Rumania's] system used economic activity to serve the state, rather than to meet human needs. . . .

Central to Ceausescu’s economic plan were specific prenatal policies to increase the population from 23 to 30 million people. . . . Women younger than 45 were expected to have five children. To enforce these policies, women were rounded up at their workplaces each month, taken to government clinics, and checked for pregnancy. . . . [P]regnancy was monitored . . . [with mandatory] “health checkups.” . . . Unmarried persons over 25 and childless married couples . . . were assessed a special 30% tax on income.

A second Ceausescu policy, known as “systematization,” severely hampered the ability of families to care for their children. . . . [Whole villages were relocated], with a devastating effect on extended family systems. The social networks that previously existed to help care for infants and small children, as well as children with special needs, were disrupted. . . . The state’s full employment policy further negatively affected family caregiving. Women were required to return to the workplace after only three to six months of maternity leave . . . .

At the most basic level, therefore, the state’s socioeconomic system affected the family’s ability to care for small children and handicapped persons. . . . [T]he overarching solution to the problems associated with caring for children was institutionalization. Since doctors could be punished if a child died in their care, the tendency was to refer children to hospitals and institutions if there was any question about their health or home environment. . . . Without normal parenting, these children did not [learn] to walk or talk. . . . [They became] permanent residents of the institutional system. . . .

. . . Estimates suggest that [the number of Rumanian children in institutional care] may be as high as 200,000, or about 4% for the child population. Many different types of children’s institutions exist [for different demographic categorizations]. . . .

. . . .

Once institutional care begins, it is difficult to change the decision. . . . [R]arely do committees recommend that children return home. . . . This occurs partly because institutions receive government funding based on the number of children in their care and partly because there are no social workers trained to work with the families . . . . Typically, therefore, children age into the next type or level of institutional care . . . indeterminately.

Alice K. Johnson et al., Foster Care and Adoption Policy in Romania: Suggestions for International Intervention, 72 Child Welfare 489, 491-94 (1993)(citations omitted).

The "child-friendly" Ceausescu approach de-stabilized Romania by creating a large population of people who could not function in families or as individuals. The Ceausescus did not strengthen Romania, enhance the Romania's intellectual capital, improve child welfare, or develop a robust citizenry. On Christmas Day, 1989, angry Romanians executed Nicolae and Elena Ceausescu during a populist revolt.

Romania's plight demonstrated the ultimate futility of centralized, homogenized, government-directed, Platonic child care. Monetary incentives do not disappear within a bureaucracy. Instead, the incentives simply take on a different form from the those that impel a capitalist in a free market situation. Both bureaucratic and capitalist institutions have, by inherent design, built-in monetary incentives that prevent the institutions from adequately substituting for autonomous, private family units.

Nation that disregard family structures and private education will eventually stagnate, and then collapse under a pattern of social anomalies which engender internal instability.See also Systemic Civic Dysfunctions; Education in National Socialist Germany; Educational Policy in the Communist Manifesto.

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