Education

Two weeks before school starts a kindergarten from Kolozsvár had to move

The story of the Lime Tree Aroma Kindergarden of Kolozsvár/Cluj-Napoca shows perfectly how issues are handled in Romania: discrimination, late reactions, “surprised” offices and clerks, citizens who suffer the consequences and ad-hoc solutions, all can be find in this new case in Kolozsvár. The Lime Tree Aroma Kindergarten was moved to another location just two weeks before the school year starts, even though those in charge have known for years that the institute has to be moved.

The Lme Tree Aroma Kindergarden with 150 children, distributed in five Romanian and one Hungarian groups, has been renting a building form the Jewish Community from Kolozsvár, together with another school. In 2011, the Jewish community notified the local council which operates the institutions that they would like to transform their property into a cultural and social center, and would like to begin the restoration of the building. The two institutions – the school and the kindergarten – have been spared eviction for seven consecutive years until 2017, when the Jewish community has told they won’t renew the lease. In 2018 the school moved, but the operators of the kindergarten did not take the warning seriously, so it remained in the building for the 2018/2019 school year paid no rent. As a result, the community started an eviction lawsuit, which they won two weeks ago, so the kindergarten had to move. The local council tried to place the kindergarten groups in other institutions, with more or less success.

Oláh Emese, the Hungarian deputy mayor of Kolozsvár told local news portal Maszol.ro that they are attempting to resolve the issue efficiently, but she also admitted that the local council was late with the implementation of the plans for the kindergarten. In 2017 the kindergarten was offered a building in the city – next to the ghetto –, which had to be restored before they could use it. But the restoration was a big investment and the council couldn’t finish it in two years. The employees of the kindergarten and the parental community knew they had to move sooner or later, but they thought they will be placed in the newly restored kindergarten as the council has promised earlier. It took them by surprised that they got evicted and have nowhere to go.

After the Jewish Community won the lawsuit, the school inspectorate of Kolozs/Cluj County has started to place the 6 groups. One of the Romanian groups was eliminated, and the other four had been transferred to other kindergartens, only the Hungarians group’s situation wasn’t resolved. It was first moved to the Happy Little Train Kindergarten, which according to kindergarten teacher Gergely Erika was not adequate for it. But, for other reasons, the group didn’t accept this solution. The teacher said they don’tunderstand why their group was not accepted by the Firefly Kindergarten, which had four empty rooms but accepted only two Romanian groups. She also told that what happened to them could be called discrimination, but she refrained from using the word.

The property of the Jewish Community that formerly housed the kindergarten. Photo: Maszol.ro/Zsizsmann Erika

 

In despair, Gergely Erika wrote a Facebook post about their situation, which finally set things in motion. Deputy mayor Oláh Emese began to take action and found a place for the remaining Hungarian group, another kindergarten offering its only empty room. The only problem with this solution is that while the building they got evicted from was next to the city center, this new space is on the outskirts of the city, 2 km away from the original location and can only be accessed thorugh a very busy road.

The parental community underlined in an open letter that they are happy that they can remain in one group, but they also expressed their despair. “The question is that when today’s children will go to school in a year or two, will there be enough children for this Hungarian group to function? Will anyone be willing to spend several hours a day in the traffic besides us? If not, who is responsible for the elimination of a Hungarian group? Or would that be some kind of political bargain? How and why could this happen?”, they wrote.

(Title image: The Romanian groups situation was resolved properly, only the Hungarians wasn’t handled quite well. Photo: Facebook/Gergely Erika)

Author: Orsi Sarány