The nightmarish images of the Huedin Special High School, Cluj County, could be considered just another failed project from “Educated Romania”. More than 90 students and their teachers risk their lives, every day, in a school of… ignorance. The centuries-old building is in urgent need of repairs, but the authorities do what they know best: they care about their responsibility nonchalantly.
Huedin Special Secondary School, where 93 students study today, is a real danger. The building, built in the 18th century, was once a manor house – Barcsay Manor – and is today on the list of historical monuments.
Since 2000, it has been functioning as a school, but capital repairs have never been an issue. The walls are badly degraded, the heating is with wood stoves, and there is only one toilet, with water heated by a boiler.
Repairs on paper only
In 2017, the Cluj County Council initiated a rehabilitation project through European funds. Being a heritage building, things moved hard due to additional notices. Until January 2023, when they stopped everything without much explanation.
In an intervention at Digi24, the director of the institution spoke about the helplessness behind the walls.
“I have been director for a year. At the time when I came as director, there was a project initiated by the Cluj County Council, which proposed the rehabilitation, modernization and equipment of this school. The project had started in 2017 and the works were to be completed in end of this year. I don’t know for what reasons, I suspect financial reasons, at the beginning of this year, we were informed that funding was suspended and that new lines of funding, from European funds, were to be sought”, says the director of the Special Secondary School in Huedin.
“You can’t mess around with small amounts”
“All the fellow teachers put their hope in this project. With the hope that, from one month to the next, something happens, they tried to arrange their space as much as possible, to offer the students some comfort, as much as possible. Here very extensive works are needed, the infrastructure of the school is very degraded, so you cannot patch it up with small sums. It is a situation below the dignity of any teacher, not to mention the children – most of them come from vulnerable families, who do not have conditions not even at home and maybe it would be very good if they at least had it at school,” Mariana Pașcalău, director of Huedin Special Secondary School, told Digi24.
The authorities ignore their incompetence: “Call DGASPC. That’s why they are managers”
Contacted by Digi24.ro, the president of the Cluj County Council, Alin Tișe, told us:
“Call DGASPC Cluj, which coordinates all special schools. Belonging means one thing, running it means another. And hospitals, churches belong because they are public property. Talk to the management of DGASPC Cluj about investments, who will tell you what investment plan it has there, if it has European money, if it doesn’t. They manage the special schools. We allocate money to the account of several institutions, and they from there do their own organization, just like museums. We own a building, but it belongs only to as public property, it doesn’t mean that we run the institution, that’s why there are directors, managers. We allocate the money and from there the manager becomes a credit orderer and he decides on investments, that’s why there are managers”, Alin Tișe told Digi24. ro.
We tried, in vain, to get a point of view. The director of DGASPC Cluj is convinced that there is a misunderstanding in the middle. For investments, says Nicoleta Molnar, the County Council is directly responsible, not the General Directorate of Social Assistance and Child Protection…
A teacher’s cry of despair
The case came to public attention after a teacher published, the other day, on social networks some photos of the disaster in the school:
“I’ve been in the shadows until now, but I can’t anymore! This is what my school looks like, Mr. Ciucă, a stone’s throw from Cluj-Napoca! (…) There is no money for repairs! I understand, now, that there are no money not even for salaries! I furnished my room with my own money and I love going to school!”, Mihaela Ciupei wrote in a manifesto post on social networks.
Editor: Izabela Zaharia