Romania: The Hans Spalinger Waldorf School is located in the heart of Romania, in a small village called Rosia in Transylvania. In Romania, there are villages where there is great poverty - one of them being Rosia. But even here, there is a Waldorf school, which offers kids a fun, real learning experience and future opportunities. In Romania, the Waldorf schools have been developing since 1990 and are part of the public school system. The school has an attached kindergarten group and leads the students from first to eighth grade.
The Waldorf School in nearby Sibiu founded the Hans Spalinger School. It started in 1998 as a literacy program for children from the Roma minority, and in 2000, the initiative was officially approved by the School Inspectorate in Sibiu as a public Waldorf school, and was then eventually extended by a vocational course with the emphasis on agriculture in 2004. Unfortunately, all vocational schools were abolished in Romania in 2009 and therefore, the school has to fight for a new official recognition by the Ministry for its professional training. Since September 2010, the school also has a kindergarten class, which is supported by the Waldorf association and is additionally funded through donations from Switzerland.
It is a typical November morning at 8 o’clock. It is wet and cold outside, and where the earth is not paved or tarmaced, there is a more or less thick layer of mud, less in the privileged upper village, therefore often more than ankle-deep in the valley, “la vale,” as the lower-village is called here. Today, as usual, the majority of the children come uphill from the lower village, a few lucky ones in rubber boots, onto which a thick layer of clay is glued, but many in footwear that is actually designed for summer days. Fortunately, it is really warm in school and the feet dry quickly and become warm again! The children come out of their small clay huts, which are only sparsely heated by wood stoves, in which they have to share a bed with several siblings and in which a hot meal is not provided on a daily basis.
There are many villages like Rosia in Romania. Rosia has about 800 inhabitants, two thirds of which belong to that poverty-stricken fringe group which until recently considered itself as Romani. Today more than 95% of them do not wish to be labeled ethnically and thus be excluded. Instead they want to finally be “ordinary Romanians”. Until they actually are, most of them have to face difficult social challenges.
The Waldorf teachers belong to the state school system and with salaries of 120-200 € they pursue a career that remains one of the lowest paid professions. A factory worker earns only about 100 € more then a Waldorf teacher, but that at least covers the monthly rent for a small apartment. In order to “get by” as an individual, independent from parents or other relatives, € 600 a month would certainly be necessary!