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Bolyai Highschool and politics

For the readers who never heard the name of the great mathematicians, father and son, founders of non-Euclidian geometry, Bolyai stands for nothing but discord in the Romanian education system. In Cluj, plans are afoot for the segregation of the University-, while in High School- has become, as of this year, an education unit with exclusively Magyar tuition.

The political community managed to attract a large number of criticisms on this institution. The nationalist paranoia of some Romanian parties and the UDMR obsession with recovering the emblematic institutions distorted this symbol of the Magyar minority, and fostered hatred and intolerance among the youth.

From the heart of the city of Târgu Mureş, from the Flower Watch, a lane with a medieval aspect leads up to the Teleki Library. Stores and bars scattered along the street contrast with the plain, cold castle wall erected above them. It is one of the side walls of the high school building. At the pupils’ gate, from Târgului Street, walls are equally gloomy. Anxious lovers, most of them looking like passionate rockers, warmly kiss their girlfriends by the high school wall. Long-haired boys, with rings and earrings, leather jackets, girls dressed in long, large clothes, hiding their femininity, until one can no longer tell which is the boy and which is the girl.

Where teenagers are kissing today, former Education Minister Ecaterina Andronescu was making, in 2002, ambiguous statements about the future of the high school. But the PSD-UDMR Protocol was stronger than the will of a handful of politicians, so that, as of that year, Bolyai has been an exclusive Magyar-tuition high school.

You get into the cold building (in both meanings of the adjective), and everybody is startled at your greeting in Romanian. The doorman gazes at you as if you entered a church in a bathing suit, and then asks you what you want, in a snappy and inaccurate Romanian. If you are intuitive enough and answer in Romanian, but with a Bucharest accent, you are off the hook, and the politeness level rises proportionately with the purpose of the visit. You ask two of the teenagers who seem glued to each other whether it’s better like this, without their Romanian classmates. They scornfully look through you and, before turning their backs, throw gruff “I don’t know” (in Magyar) at you. Another couple comes up, more decent this time. They seem to be only class mates, and are quite good-humoured. We sit on a bank in the small park guarded by the statues of the two Bolyais, father and son. Noemi and Levi speak a very fluent Romanian.

Romania is not our homeland. Neither is Hungary

The two young people speak about history without fervour, and prove to be quite informed in this respect. “You know? We came to this high school because it’s a very good one. But I’m definitely not considering attending Sapienţia (the Magyar-tuition university, editor’s note). I’m learning English and German because I want to leave the country. Not to Hungary, no. I feel Romania is not our homeland. But Hungary isn’t either. It may be homeland for the children of Frunda, Tăriceanu, Borbely, Năstase, Verostoy or Ţiriac, but not mine; my parents and common people. In 1990 I wasn’t going to school yet, I was very young, but I kept hearing that Romanians were our enemies. I grew up and saw it wasn’t true. Over the past two years, I felt sorry for the colleagues in the Romanian section. They were tolerated in this “prestigious” high school, they were treated like those visiting relatives that you can’t get rid of. Indeed, this building was erected by our Hungarian forefathers, by why should we be so obsessed with the past? This is what I say now, but then I did nothing to end the segregation. It would have been useless anyway. The decision had already been taken, by authorities. The Romanian colleagues allowed PRM to manipulate them, and we successfully played the part UDMR politicians imposed on us. But I’m sure this is not what history books will report.” It is the confession of a young man too disappointed with all he sees. “We are tired of hearing that Romanians are the lazy bastards that want us out of the country, and we are humiliated with always being accused of trying to seize Ardeal. It is the politicians and media which perpetuated these obsessions, and the so-called fighters for democracy had their own interests,” Noemi adds. The two leave, and their eyes show not only sadness, but also acquiescence.

The history of Bolyai

The Reformed College came into being at the onset of the Religious Reform in 1557. It was initially named Schola Particula, and was one of the first Reformed schools in Transilvania. In the beginning it was hosted by the old monastery building, offered by Queen Izabella. Obliterated by General Basta’s troops in 1601-1602, Schola was relocated to a building on the current location of the high school. The current aspect of the building can be traced back to the late 19th Century.

Ever since its establishment, the training level was tied with the culture and civilisation, with the ethical standing of the teaching staff. The first three rectors were graduates from the University of During the emancipation war led by Prince Francisc Rakozi the Second, many students and teaching staff enrolled under his coat of arms. Year 1718 sees the beginning of a new era in the history of the school. Students of the college in Sarospatak, chased away in the wake of the religious conflicts triggered by the religious reform and counter-reform spreading, are also accepted in the school. Schola Particula becomes a higher education institution and will receive the name of “Reformed College.” Ideas of the Enlightenment were sown among students by the eminent professor Fogarasi Pap Jozsef, promoted as professor in Buda by Emperor Joseph the Second, a supporter of the Enlightenment. In 1807 the famous professor Koteles Samuel releases the first work on the college’s 250-year history. Legal studies in introduced in the school curricula in 1794.

The fame of the college grew after Bolyai Farkas took over the mathematics chair. The Bolyai era of the college reached a climax during the activity of brilliant mathematician Bolyai Janos, founder of the non-Euclidian geometry.

In 1866 the college becomes a Academy-.

In 1911 the new building is inaugurated, but before long, during the First World War, its elegant halls were used for hosting the military hospital. Between the world wars difficulties began, and after World War II classes were resumed with only six office holders in the teaching staff; the rest were pensioners and substitute teachers.

In 1948 the Communist regime nationalised the building and cancelled the school’s status as a Reformed College. The communists did not stop here, but renamed the building after Communist fighter Iosif Rangheţ. InNovember 17, 1956 the Communist government and local authority officials returned the high school its old name, namely the High School-, with Magyar tuition. Four years later the school became a mixed school, as several Romanian classes were transferred from High School-. In the 1980s, after vocational classes were introduced, the education level dropped. The vocational courses were eliminated after 1990. At the same time, an attempt was made to return to the Magyar tuition status, which led to the ethnic conflicts in March. The Reformed Church, legitimate owner of the high school, has fought relentlessly to regain the high school and re-establish the Reformed College. The College operate distinctly from the high school, with eight classes totalling 236 students. Attending the school are 976 pupils, in elementary, secondary and high school classes.


Naturally, such a history fully justifies the reaction of the Magyar minority, well known for its strong ties with the values of the past. The problem is now with the discrimination, this time against the majority. A Romanian teenager cannot attend the prestigious high school, unless he speaks Magyar. Asked about her view on this situation, co-president of the Pro Europa League Smaranda Enache, known as a passionate fighter for the Bolyai cause, answers bluntly: “If a Romanian student wants to study in Bolyai, he must speak Magyar! Romanian is not a religion.”

By Cora Muntean

Publicat în : English  de la numărul 31
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