Schools in Bucharest and Ilfov – a view from high above (2021-2022)

by Teodor Costăchioiu

A Eurostat analysis, picked up by most of our news sites, says that the population of Ilfov County is expected to grow by 42% between 2020 and 2050 in the next few years, while the population of Bucharest will decrease by 23%. Obviously, the news is taken without a link to the material’s source because that’s how it is done here.

After reading this analysis, I thought I couldn’t miss the opportunity to write about it, especially since we are among those who chose to change Bucharest for Ilfov. We are familiar with the advantages and disadvantages of living on the outskirts of Bucharest.

About 15 years ago, we gave up a nice apartment located on a boulevard with impossible traffic, noise, and dust and moved to a house located in a quiet area of Roșu (Com. Chiajna).

Since then, things have changed a lot; on every piece of vacant land, 8-10-storey blocks are built. Cramped, no parking, no green spaces. More recently, blocks have started to be built in the area of houses. Wherever there’s a demolishable house, a new block appears.

With the real estate development, the population of the village has increased, but the infrastructure does not keep pace with the development. A first effect – traffic. When we moved to Chiajna, access to Bucharest was super easy, even at rush hour. Nowadays, to arrive in Bucharest at 8 am, we have to leave no later than 7 am. An hour spent in traffic for a journey of eight, maximum ten kilometers.

We are starting to feel a decline in our quality of life here, and we are not the only ones with this problem. Last year, a cousin of mine sold his house in Ilfov and moved to an apartment that is about half the house area, just because he couldn’t cope with taking his kids to and from school.

We still have a few years to go before we get into the school-going frenzy, but we are already starting to pay attention to the school infrastructure.

How the school landscape looks like in Bucharest and Ilfov

In a moment of inspiration, I started to map all the schools in Bucharest and Ilfov.

I took the list of schools in Bucharest and Ilfov and put them on a map created in Google Maps. I started with the ones near the area where we live, and slowly, I extended the project to the whole city and Ilfov County.

For my map I used the following types of markers:

  • school marker for primary and secondary schools
  • a round marker with a square in the middle for colleges (grades V-VIII plus high school)
  • a round marker with a dot in the middle for religious and bilingual schools.

I have not mapped arts and crafts schools and special schools.

Then I started coloring these markers.

I chose the color blue for primary schools – only with grades I-IV. Such educational establishments can be found all over Ilfov, generally in small villages.

The rest of the schools I colored according to how good they are. Now, we have to discuss what a ”good school” means. As a basis for ranking the schools, I have chosen the top compiled by In this top, schools were ranked according to the average of the secondary school admission (”capacitate”) exam average per school, i.e., the average of the exam averages of the students in that school.

This ranking has some flaws. One of the things I’ve noticed is the tendency of some schools to “cheat the system.” Thus, students’ school performance is overrated so that they graduate with the highest possible average. This school year’s average then contributes 20% to the final grade for the admission exam.

I have even seen differences of more than 2.4 points between the school year’s average and the national assessment exam average. One such example is School No.1 in Afumați. The situation doesn’t seem to bother anyone; I haven’t read anywhere about parents questioning the school management or the school inspectorate.

Returning to the map, the school markers have been given the following colors:

  • green for educational establishments with an average above 9.01 in the national evaluation exam
  • yellow for educational establishments with an average of between 8.01 and 9
  • orange for educational establishments with an average between 7.01 and 8
  • red for educational establishments with an average between 6.01 and 7
  • Dark red for schools in the “God forbid” category, with an average below 6.

I’ve also added to the map a rough approximation of the areas where it becomes feasible to walk to and from school—these are the grey areas. To see exactly which school an address is assigned to go to

Some conclusions

The school network in Bucharest remained at the level of the 1990s with very few new schools built. The school network is dense in the old parts of the city, and wherever you choose to live, you are likely to be able to walk your child to school within a maximum of one kilometer, which is a 20- or 30-minute walk.

The areas on the outskirts, however, are forgotten by fate and by the authorities. The town has expanded greatly in the last thirty years. Instead of fields where corn used to grow, villas and condominiums were built. Unfortunately, the authorities have forgotten that they also have to build schools in these areas. As such those who choose to live further out of town are forced to use their own car or public transport to get their children to school. The same goes for industrial areas that have become residential neighborhoods, but public transportation is also possible here.

In terms of educational results, most schools rank somewhere between 7 and 8 in the top list. We find in Bucharest areas with poorly performing schools especially in the suburbs and disadvantaged areas – Ferentari, Giulești. There are also some schools with a low performance surrounded by good ones in the central area of the city. Overall, I’d say it’s a pretty balanced distribution of schools.

Ilfov county – a disaster

From the point of view of the educational offer, Ilfov is a county that does not keep up with the population dynamics. The school network is undersized, with large distances between schools, especially in the northern part of the county. Some establishments offer only primary education (one to four grades), usually in small villages in the county. It is debatable whether minibus transport can solve some of these problems.

Even worse is the situation in the localities close to Bucharest, which have experienced a strong expansion in the last 30 years. In these localities, the school network has remained at the 1989 level, which creates significant problems in being able to take children to school. It is very rare to be able to take your child by the hand and walk for 20-30 minutes to get to school.

That’s why many parents choose to “find a way” to take their children to school in Bucharest. This leads to terrible traffic at every entrance to the city and overcrowding of schools on the outskirts, with some even resorting to three-shift classes.

Moreover, if we look at the ranking made by we notice that no state school in Ilfov manages to ensure admission averages above 8. The rankings are dominated by schools whose admissions average is somewhere between 6 and 7, with many disaster schools not even achieving admissions averages of 6.

What can we do?

Are you thinking of moving to Ilfov or to the outskirts of Bucharest because housing is cheaper? Consider that you will become a driver for your children.

If the authorities have not built schools in 30 years, don’t expect them to do it now.

This usually means giving a bribe to an individual who will allow you to establish your residence at their home – so you can obtain a temporary residence permit in the area where you will enroll your child in school. You will spend an hour in traffic every day on the way to school, time lost for both you and your children, especially since this time is taken from their sleep. You will lose just as much time picking them up from school. You and hundreds of other parents in the same situation will be stuck in traffic jams on streets that were not designed for current traffic levels.

Public transportation is not a solution. With small exceptions, the Ilfov localities are served by pre-rural lines, with old buses and a high cadence between runs. And even if you choose public transportation, you will still have to accompany your children, especially in primary school.

Add the time needed to take children to tutoring sessions and other activities, and you will see that, in the long run, the savings made from buying a cheaper home are spent on the additional costs related to access to education.

Overall, the condominiums built during the communist era in Bucharest are the best solution for easy access to school infrastructure. It is still worth taking a look at to see which school a certain condominium is assigned to, preferably before deciding to buy or rent a property there.

So, what about that forecast predicting a huge population increase in Ilfov alongside a population decline in Bucharest?

Private schools

This article wouldn’t be complete without writing about private schools. So I created another map on which I put all the private schools I found on the school inspectorates’ lists. I used a color scheme similar to the state school map:

  • blue for primary schools
  • purple for secondary schools that are not listed in the top list.
  • green for educational establishments with an average above 9.01 in the national evaluation exam
  • yellow for educational establishments with an average of between 8.01 and 9
  • orange for educational establishments with an average between 7.01 and 8
  • red for educational establishments with an average between 6.01 and 7
  • dark red for schools in the “God forbid” category. There is only one private school in this category, somewhere in Ferentari.

Not surprisingly, the network of private schools in Ilfov is mainly concentrated in wealthy municipalities such as Voluntari, Pipera, and Corbeanca.

Many private establishments offer only primary education. They may be a solution until more children grow up, but there is no data on the performance provided.

As for private schools that also offer secondary education, only a few of them are present in the top. Interestingly, however, these schools have achieved very good results in high school admissions, often scoring above 8 and even above 9.

We also find schools that are not present in the ranking, probably because they are newer and have not yet graduated a full generation of students.

Update: September 2022

I just found some time now and updated the maps with the 2022 results. For those interested in the old version, I’ve left links here to maps of state and private school results for 2021.

The evolution shows a “leveling up” of school results, with higher averages than in 2021. This is after the pandemic when we all know how (not so) much schooling has been done. This whole thing seems like an attempt to fool ourselves In addition, high grades create problems in sorting out students, you can end up losing your place at a good high school by one or two hundredths.

There are far too many changes between schools to take each one separately, so I’ve grouped them as follows:


  • Two private schools go straight into the green
  • Another private school goes orange

Changes for the worse

  • Two schools fall from “green” to “yellow”
  • Three schools drop in the ranking from “yellow” to “orange”
  • Six more schools have gone from “orange” to “red”
  • Two schools fall massively in the rankings from “orange” to “dark red”
  • A school goes from “red” to “dark red”
  • Two private schools had no candidates in the national assessment

Changes for the better

  • Five schools go from “yellow” to “green”
  • No less than 24 schools have changed from “orange” to “yellow”
  • Another 22 schools have gone from “red” to “orange”
  • Seven schools go from “dark red” to “red”


Also here we find a lot of changes in the ranking, overall the performance is better than in 2021

  • Two private schools enter the rankings for the first time, one on “orange” and one on “red”
  • Two state schools enter the rankings for the first time, one on “red” and one on “dark red”

Changes for the worse

  • A private school goes from “green” to “yellow”
  • Another private school goes from “yellow” to “orange”
  • Three schools go from “orange” to “red”

Changes for the better

  • A total of 16 schools go from “red” to “orange”.
  • A school takes a giant leap from “dark red” to “orange”
  • Eight more schools went from “red” to “orange”

Photo by Ivan Aleksic on Unsplash

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