Dutch green education shows that extraordinary things can happen: Romanian educational institutes want partnerships!

16-09-2019

by Nellie van der Pasch, IDM lecturer & Romania country coordinator VHL. 11 September 2019

It has been overwhelming. Every subsequent day was even better than the one before.. We feel the relevance of cooperation between education, private sector and government for a better future of our green educational sector, our graduates and the private sector. We have to be creative in Romania and change our educational methods. The Netherlands proofs it is possible. (Mr Dima, state secretary of the Romanian ministry of agriculture and rural development).

A Romanian delegation, with representatives from the government and agriculture high schools, visited green education institutes in The Netherlands during the first week of September. Focus has been at MBO-level of green education as the urgency for drastic changes in the Romanian agriculture high schools (MBO-level) is high. There is a mismatch between what the high schools offer and what students and future employers want. Today’s curriculum of the 58 agriculture high schools is obsolete. Since almost 30 years hardly any change has occurred. The number of agriculture high school students diminishes year after year because of the bad reputation. If this continues, within a couple of years also these last high schools close their doors. Lack of resources and involvement from the ministry of education aggravates the present situation. The shrinking population in rural areas of Romania makes clear that action is needed. Green education can create a brighter future, also for rural people!

Urgency to act now

The ministry of agriculture (MADR) realizes the urgency to act now. Investing in these high schools is a must. The search for inspiration abroad led to the Dutch green education sector. Can the Dutch contribute to a total make-over of the Romanian agriculture high school education? Is their system how it can ideally look like?

Borderless Network Romania table, in which VHL plays a crucial role, is active in Romania since 2017, but getting feet on Romanian ground has been quite a challenge. Coordinating efforts works better. Hence with the support from the Dutch embassy in Bucharest, LNV, RVO, a representative group of Borderless Network organized a programme for the Romanian delegation to The Netherlands that fits their needs.

There is plenty to show and the programme was packed! During 3 days the delegation visited Lentiz college in Naaldwijk, Nordwin college and VHL in Leeuwarden (including FACT, WETSUS and Dairy Campus) and Zone college in Zwolle. On top of that they met with representatives of Dutch private and education sector already active in Romania.

Action plan

The Romanian delegation was impressed. Their expectation at the start of the visit were highly exceeded since they saw many opportunities that can fit within the Romanian agri-education sector. On Friday afternoon, in the ‘Kas van Kaat’ in Zwolle, an action plan was prepared. These included actions for the agriculture high schools themselves, the ministries of agriculture and education and the collaboration with Dutch partners. The agriculture high schools decided to form an association. This helps to raise their voice towards the government. The ministry of agriculture wants a legal document on cooperation between The Netherlands and Romania’s agriculture ministries. Before 13 September the action plan is discussed and endorsed by the 58 agriculture high schools.

Actions

There are plenty of actions in which VHL, and other Borderless Network members, can play a meaningful role. This includes: partnerships between individual knowledge institutes, training of trainers, curriculum development in various fields eg circular agriculture and entrepreneurship, developing minors, students exchange, support in marketing strategies including image building, e-learning platforms, demo-farms, competition between student projects from NL and RO ..

The one-million dollar question is now: which VHL programmes and courses and which VHL lecturers and professors are ready to step in and are willing to contribute to this collaboration with Romanian partners. A perfect opportunity for international exposure of our students, lecturers, professors and other staff!

Take this momentum! A large agriculture event, INDAGRA, takes place from 30 October – 1 November in Bucharest. With the support from the Dutch embassy a whole day programme will be organized around the Dutch agri-education. It is our party! WE will be in the spotlights. So join!