How did a university professor become the promoter of dual education?
The first university I graduated from was the University of Brasov (today UTBV), where I studied engineering. It was actually a typical dual education system because every semester we did a month of practice in the factory, the diploma project was also in the factory and later, when I became a teacher at UTBv I had the department also in the factory, and all the research hours had to be based on projects with companies in the field. The irony is that when I participated in Switzerland in the commission that created the law for dual education, I had as a model exactly the study model of the Romanian polytechnics. Moreover, even today a medical school is still a dual school because you cannot do medicine without harmoniously combining theory and practice, the basis of dual education. And the irony is that today, many people in charge of dual education in Romania, are opposed to this system, which is considered a bit demeaning for a university.
What does a typical day in your life look like?
The typical day in my life changed depending on my age and the institution where I worked. In fact, I don't remember having many days under 10 hours of work but my great advantage was that I always enjoyed what I did and didn't consider work a chore. For almost four years since I opened the Romanian branch of winsed.swiss, many days are spent on the plane and trains. Obviously, during the pandemic, the habit of working a lot online and having meetings with colleagues online came up.
If you were to change one thing in the education system of Romania, what would that be?
I would start exactly with the dual system that must find its deserved place in Romanian education. For Romania and for many other countries, the revival of vocational and dual education is fundamental. Unlike other countries, we have quite good declarative knowledge, but we are worse off with practical skills and abilities. Even in the old regime, we were good with theory but "practice was killing us". We had -and I hope we still have- a quality intelligentsia but it had and still has serious problems in transferring knowledge into real life. I hope that now, as an honorary advisor to the Prime Minister, I can make a small contribution to the promotion of dual education. The Chamber of Commerce Switzerland- Romania has strong economic actors who know that it could never have developed without an important pragmatic spirit and quality craftsmen. Through the chamber's education group, which I have the honor to lead, we try to help our members to build a solid education system in Romania like in Switzerland.
You once mentioned that the Swiss live to work, not the other way around. Under what conditions and when do you think this mentality might develop in Romania?
Every country has its own culture and values. I was just saying that in Switzerland I have the impression that people live to work, while in Romania (and not only!) it's a bit the other way around. Is it worse? Is it better? Can we generalize or import Swiss values into Romania? I don't know. But I do know that Romanians are very creative and know very well how to combine the useful with the pleasant. The success of a country consists in relying on its own culture, on its own values and to perform under these conditions. After all, it is perhaps more important to be very efficient in 4 out of 8 hours than to stay at work until late in the evening without much-added value. The problem is not only mentality but first and foremost organization. Well, there's some work to be done.
Should a culture of excellence in services become a mandatory subject in schools?
There is a lot of talk about the state of happiness that we need to implement in schools. School is a place of learning, effort, of hard work, and is not a holiday camp. This does not mean that we should not strive to create an educational system in which learning is not only suffering but also pleasure. Effort and pleasure in learning are not opposites. The teacher's talent is to make the student like what he learns and thus he learns with pleasure. Whoever visits the famous Ecole Hoteliere de Lausanne today will notice something extremely important that has put EHL on the highest step of the podium of universities in the field: students who leave the classroom or the laboratory enthusiastic about what they have learned. Today, however, the primary role of schools is to teach you how to learn.
What are the objectives of the Education Group within the CCE-R for the upcoming year?
Our priority is to create a system that will effectively help members improve their training system because the biggest challenge today is the workforce. We are trying to build through a series of conferences the knowledge needed by Swiss companies in Romania on how a professional/dual system can work in specific Romanian conditions, implementing as much as possible of what can be implemented from the Swiss system, one of the best performing in the world. I believe that the organizational spirit, Swiss rigor together with Romanian creativity is the best recipe for success