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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Teaching and learning in primary education


5.Primary education

5.2Teaching and learning in primary education

Last update: 9 June 2022

Primary education is equally provided for all children, including the ones with special educational needs either in units of special education or in mainstream education institutions. Primary education gives all children equal opportunities in accomplishing the first stage of basic education (elementary education) and in continuing their education in the subsequent education levels.

The curriculum for primary education, is established by the Ministry of National Education

The number of hours allocated to the subjects in the framework schooling plans is maximum 20 hours a week for the primary education.

In accordance with the general finalities of education, the in-force curriculum for primary education sets the following specific finalities for this education level:

  • To ensure the first stage of basic education for all children

  • To build up each child personality, respecting his/her own development level and rhythm

  • To ensure that each child acquires the basic knowledge, skills and attitudes that stimulate the effective and creative relation with the social and natural environment, and provides the necessary opportunities in continuing education.

For primary and gimnaziu education the National Curriculum establishes the following types of educational objectives:

  • The frame objectives: educational objectives, referring to the development of capacities and attitudes generated by each specific topic and pursued over a number of years of study. For most subjects the frame objectives are established for one education level (i.e. primary, etc.)

  • The reference objectives: educational objectives specifying the expected learning outcomes per year of study and following the progress of the pupil regarding the development of capacities and knowledge’s every year. The reference objectives are established within the syllabus for each subject and grade and are derived from the frame objectives of the subject for the given education level.

Curriculum, Subjects, Number of Hours

According to the provisions of the Law of National Education (Law 1/2011), the National Curriculum represents a consistent set of framework schooling plans and pre-university curricula and syllabi.

The framework schooling plans include the compulsory and optional subjects, as well as the minimum and maximum number of lessons for the compulsory and optional subjects.

The Framework Educational Plans are elaborated and approved according to the Methodology on the elaboration and approval of the school curriculum - framework curricula and school curricula of 18.06.2016. In this process are involved representatives of the Ministry of National Education and of the Institute of Education Sciences, representatives of other institutions and competent bodies of MNE and other specialists in the field of education / training.

The common part is made up of the compulsory subjects, and the curriculum upon school decision, is made up of the optional subjects.

The syllabi establish for each subject the study manner of the curriculum, the pursued objectives and describe their basic theoretical, experimental and practical content, offering general methodological guidance for their achievement.

The framework schooling plans and syllabi for the preuniversity compulsory subjects are elaborated by competent institutions and organisms of the Ministry of National Education, and are approved by order of the minister of education, research, youth and sports.

Curriculum upon school decision and curriculum in local development (CLD) is made up both of optional subject packages, offered at national, regional and local level and also of subject packages offered at the level of the educational institutions, in accordance with the pupils’ learning needs and interests, with school’s specificities and with the needs of local communities / economic partners.

The board of the educational institution, after consulting the pupils, the parents and on the basis of the available resources, sets the curriculum, on the school decision. Syllabi for the optional subjects are elaborated by the educational institutions, upon consulting the teacher’s council, the pupils’ advisory council, the parents’ representative committee, as well as representatives of the local community. Syllabi are approved by the board of directors of the educational institution in question.

The compulsory subjects represent 80% of the framework schooling plans for the compulsory education; the framework schooling plans for the optional subjects represent 20% for the compulsory education.

The syllabus shall cover 75% of the teaching and evaluation hours within each subject, which places 25% of the time allocated for the subject in question to the teacher’s disposal. According to pupils’ features and the school strategy in which the subject is included, the teacher shall decide whether 25% of the time allocated to the subject is to be used for remedial learning, in the case of children with special problems, for the consolidation of pupils’ knowledge, or for the stimulation of pupils able to achieve higher performance, according to individual schooling plans elaborated for each pupil.

According to the provisions of the Law of National Education (Law 1/2011), Art. 68, the national primary education curriculum focuses on 8 categories of key skills determining the pupil’s training profile:

  • Communication competence in Romanian and maternal language, in the case of national minorities

  • Communication competence in foreign languages

  • Basic mathematics, sciences and technological sciences competences

  • Computer skills (using the information technology in order to acquire knowledge and solve problems)

  • Social and civic skills

  • Entrepreneurial skills

  • Cultural expression and sensitization skills

  • Learning abilities.

Physical education and sports in pre-university education are included in the common part of the curricula.

The subject Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) is an optional subject for pupils from 1st – 4th grades.

The curriculum for preparatory grades pursues the physical, social, emotional and cognitive development of language and communication, as well as the development of the learning abilities and attitudes, providing the key to the development of the 8 key skills.

According to the provisions of the Law of National Education (Law 1/2011), Art. 18, the framework schooling plans for primary education, include religion as a school subject, which is part of the common part. Those pupils belonging to the cults acknowledged by the state, irrespective of their number, are granted the constitutional right to participate in religion class, according to their respective religion. Subject to the written request of the parents or of the tutor-at-law, the pupil may be exempt from attending religion classes. In this case, the school results shall be calculated without taking this subject into account. The same goes for the pupil who, for objective reasons, was nor granted the conditions for attending religion class. The subject of religion may be taught only by qualified teaching staff, according to the provisions of the present law, authorised on the basis of the protocols between the Ministry of National Education and the religious cults officially acknowledged by the state.

The foreign languages classes in the primary education can be taught by teachers with specialized graduate studies for the primary education at the respective group or class, within the job activities, if they prove their qualification by the study diploma or competence certificate. The foreign language classes in the primary education can also be taught by teachers with specialized higher education, being included in their workload, or through payment by the hour, if the teachers in the primary education from the respective group or class cannot prove their qualification by study diploma or competence certificate.

The syllabi for the primary education establish, for each compulsory subject, the educational aims (frame-objectives and reference objectives). The syllabi for primary education comprise the tuition contents and the curricular standards of achievement for each subject at the end of the cycle. Meanwhile the syllabi give methodological guidelines to the teachers (including suggestions for tuition) for their planned activities to achieve the educational aims and the developing curricular standards.

In the case of the subjects with specified number of weekly periods (minimum and maximum), the curriculum frameworks has a common part with compulsory reference objectives and contents which  corresponds to the minimum number of periods and supplementary reference objectives and contents marked with asterisk which corresponds to the extensions (maximum number of periods).

The curricular standards of achievement are evaluation criteria for the learning process. They are synthetic statements which indicate the level of the objectives attained by the pupils at the end of primary education.

The National Curriculum for preparatory grade and for grades I to IV is structured in seven curricular areas, defined on the basis of epistemological and psycho-pedagogical principles and criteria (according to Annex 1 of Order of Ministry of National Education no. 3371 / 12.03.2013):

(1) Language and communication: Romanian language and literature (P, grade I-IV), Foreign language (P, grade I-IV).

Note: In the preparatory class and grades I and II the discipline Romanian Language and Literature is entitled Communication in Romanian.

(2) Mathematics and natural sciences: Mathematics (P, grade I-IV), Natural sciences (P, grade I-IV).

Note: In the preparatory class and grades I and II, the Mathematics and environmental exploration are integrated.

(3) Human being and society: Civic education (grade III-IV), History (grade IV), Geography (grade IV), Religion (P, grade I-IV).

(4) Physical education, sports and health: Physical education (P, grade I-IV); Play and Movement (grades III - IV) - also responds to the thematic area 5; Music and Movement (P, grades I to IV) - covers also the thematic area 5.

(5) Arts: Play and Movement (grades III-IV) - covers also the thematic area 4, Music and Movement (P, grades I to IV) - covers also the thematic area 4, Visual Arts and Practical Skills (P, grades I - IV) - covers also the thematic area 6.

(6) Technologies: Visual Arts and Practical Skills (P, grades I - IV) - covers also the thematic area 5.

(7) Counselling and guidance: Personal Development (P, grade I-IV).

Optional subjects/activities can fall in either of the curricular areas.

According to the provisions of the National Curriculum, the modern languages are part of the common core curriculum.

The study of the first modern language starts in grade III and the study of the second modern language starts in grade V. 

Teaching Methods and Materials

The teaching methods applied in primary education are carefully chosen so as to meet the finalities of the education level and the pupils’ age and individual particularities.

The teacher is fully responsible for choosing the methods, taking the structure of the class into consideration, the teaching aids available in the school and following the methodological guidelines provided by the National Curriculum and the teachers’ guides for each subject.For most of the subjects, a given class works with the same teacher all the way through primary education; foreign languages, religion and, in some cases, music and physical education are taught by other teachers.During a given lesson, the class management is entirely the responsibility of the teacher. In consequence, teachers can organise the activities with all the pupils (frontal activities), in smaller groups or individually (differentiated activities) – depending on the specific objectives of the lesson and the level of the pupils. 

Regarding the teaching methods, the following general remarks can be taken into consideration:

  • The oral communication methods utilized can be classified as:

    • expository methods (story telling, description, explanation, etc.)

    • conversational methods (conversation, heuristic conversation, questioning on a special subject, etc.).

  • Teachers also use exploratory learning methods

    • direct exploration of objects and phenomena (systematic and independent observation, small experiments, etc.)

    • indirect exploration (problem solving, demonstration through pictures, films, etc.).

  • For teaching most subjects, teachers use extensively methods based on the pupils’ direct voluntary action (exercises, practical work, etc.) and simulated action (didactic games, learning through dramatisation, etc.).

  • At least in the first two grades of primary education, continuing the methods used in pre-primary education, the game is still used as an important modality to stimulate the mental and physical capacity of the pupils and to facilitate adaptation of the pupils to the requirements of formal education.

At the end of each lesson teachers usually assign the homework for the next class – foreseeing both further understanding of the knowledge acquired and exercise of the competences developed. The homework consists of exercises, activities, etc. chosen either from the textbooks or from other printed teaching aids (pupils’ textbooks, texts anthologies, problems and exercises collections, etc.).

In some cases pupils are also requested to perform as their homework specific practical activities – like measurements, observations, small practical projects, etc.

At the beginning of each lesson teachers usually check with the pupils the homework and, as the case may be, help them in accomplishing it, giving supplementary explanations. As a general rule, the Ministry of National Education recommends that time dedicated for homework should take into consideration the need of the children to play, socialise and perform sports and other leisure activities.

According to the provisions of the Law of National Education (Law 1/2011), only schoolbooks and other school supplies which are approved by the Ministry of National Education may be used in public or private educational institutions. Schoolbooks are elaborated and evaluated based on the curricula approved by the Ministry of National Education. The Ministry of National Education regulates the creation of alternative school textbooks.

Teachers select and recommend to pupils to use a certain schoolbook from the list of schoolbooks approved by the Ministry of National Education in the didactic process, based on the free professional initiative. Pupils and teachers of the compulsory public or private accredited educational institutions receive free schoolbooks, both for tuition in the Romanian language, as well as for the tuition in the languages of the minorities, in compliance with the law.

Curricular auxiliaries include methodological guides, and didactic materials the contents of which is in compliance with the applicable legal provisions and which may be selected by teachers and used in the classroom, based on the free professional initiative, with the purpose of improving the quality of the educational process.

The teaching aids used in primary education consist of:

  • natural materials (plants, insects, rocks, etc.)

  • technical objects (measurement instruments, home appliances, etc.)

  • intuitive materials (cast and clay models)

  • figurative aids (pictures, photographs, atlas books, maps, albums, audio-video images, etc.)

  • printed teaching aids (pupils’ textbooks, texts anthologies, problems and exercises collections, etc.). Printed teaching aids can be acquired by the schools’ libraries or recommended by the teacher and acquired by the pupils.