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FAKE NEWS: Maia Sandu closed 120 schools and laid off more than 5800 teachers

Scolrite
©EPA-EFE/DUMITRU DORU  |   Two girls discuss during the opening ceremony of scholar year at lyceum named after Moldovan writer Gheorghe Asachi in Chisinau, Moldova, 01 September 2017. The school year traditionally starts on 01 September in the countries of the former Soviet Union.

Maia Sandu closed schools and laid off teachers, according to the Socialist Bogdan Țîrdea, one of the main promoters of disinformation in Chisinau. The narrative, which is contradicted by statistics, has been used before and is being reactivated now, in the context of the election campaign, in order to destabilize the party founded by Maia Sandu, PAS, which, according to opinion polls, is the favorite.

NEWS: “Almost 120 educational institutions were closed, and 6,000 teachers lost their jobs, during the period in which the position of Minister of Education was held by the current president of the country, Maia Sandu. The data are included in an answer given by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Research to an interpellation made by the PSRM deputy, Bogdan Țîrdea ”, says Accent TV, a station affiliated with the Socialist Party

“According to the MP, being a minister while still a World Bank employee, Sandu contracted from the international financial institution a 40-million-dollar loan to liquidate and reorganize hundreds of primary and secondary schools, high schools and boarding schools.

“This project has been nothing but a disaster”. According to the data provided by the Ministry of Education, 119 schools were liquidated between 2012 and 2015. According to the NBS, the total number of institutions in 2009 was 1667 while in 2015, i.e. when Mrs. Sandu left office, it was 1446. Which means that, in just three years, we lost 221 schools, high schools, colleges and universities”, Țîrdea said.The deputy pointed out that, during this period, a drastic drop in the number of students and pupils was also registered. According to the NBS, from 579 thousand students and pupils in 2009, six years later, when Maia Sandu left the Ministry of Education, their number had decreased by over 100 thousand, down to only 462 thousand.Following the reform promoted by Sandu, the teaching staff also suffered. Before Maia Sandu took over the ministry, almost 49 thousand employees worked in education. In 2017, there were only 37.5 thousand teachers left. During Maia Sandu's term alone, almost 5834 teachers were fired. These massive layoffs took place despite the fact that there was a shortage of teachers in the country", according to Accent TV, quoting Bogdan Țîrdea. The statements of the Socialist deputy were taken over by a large number of media institutions, affiliated or close to PSRM.

NARRATIVE: Maia Sandu is guilty of closing schools in the Republic of Moldova, of reducing the number of pupils / students. Maia Sandu left teachers without jobs.

LOCAL CONTEXT / ETHOS: The narrative about the closure of educational institutions in the Republic of Moldova has been used by the left in all election campaigns in the last decade to discredit right-wing parties and the West.In the campaigns for the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections, the former President of the Republic of Moldova, Igor Dodon, tried to blame the closure of schools on his opponent, Maia Sandu, who in 2012-2015 served as Minister of Education.The narrative is being used again in the current campaign for early parliamentary elections. Maia Sandu does not officially participate in the elections, but she is strongly associated with the Action and Solidarity Party, which she led until December last year and which is listed with the best chances of winning the elections.The number of schools has indeed decreased in the Republic of Moldova, but it is a process that has lasted for over 15 years in the context in which the number of students has been steadily declining since the 2000s and has practically halved in the last two decades.

PURPOSE: To bring back into discussion the subject of school closures so that, by attacking Maia Sandu, to destabilize the Action and Solidarity Party. To resume the accusations against the West.

WHY THE NARRATIVE IS FALSE: The accusations launched by Bogdan Țîrdea and taken over by the press are based on an informative note sent to the Socialist deputy by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Research. First of all, it refers to the number of schools closed in four years, and Maia Sandu held the position of Minister of Education for three years, between 24 July 2012 and 30 July 2015. Secondly, most of the decisions to close the 119 schools were taken in 2012 (68 decisions) before Maia Sandu took office, as the process was to be organized until September 1, when the school year starts in the Republic of MoldovaAt the same time, out of the 119 decisions to close schools, 114 were made by local councils and only five by the government.Bogdan Țîrdea also refers to the reduction of the number of students and pupils but mentions the period 2009-2015. Indeed, their number decreased, but it is a process that has lasted since the early 2000s. For example, even in the period 2001-2009, when the Communist Party was in power (the current leaders of the Socialists, Igor Dodon and Zinaida Greceanii, were also part of the team), the number of pupils decreased by one third - from 620,000 to 415,000. And the number of students has been steadily declining since 2007, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.The drop in the number of pupils, due to the reduction of the population, was the main factor leading to the need for optimization.  From 2000 to 2020, the number of pupils halved. In the 119 schools closed in 2012-2015, the number of pupils ranged from 1 to 300, but most of them were educational institutions with up to 100 students.The news reads that “during Maia Sandu's term, almost 5834 teachers were laid off”, but these accusations have not been confirmed by the Ministry of Education. In the informative note, the Ministry of Education claims that it does not have such data, mentioning however that the education system is facing a chronic shortage of teachers.

GRAIN OF TRUTH: Schools were closed during Maia Sandu’s ministerial term, just as before and after.

THE NARRATIVE BENEFITS The Electoral Bloc of Communists and Socialists, to attack the main candidate in the elections, the Action and Solidarity Party, and to compromise the image of Maia Sandu; Indirectly Moscow, to feed the anti-European choices of the citizens of the Republic of Moldova.


  • Publication / Media:
    Accent TV
  • Date of publication:
    31/05/2021
  • Language / Target audience:
    Undecided voters
  • Amplification:
    A large number of media outlets affiliated with PSRM
  • Political affiliation:
    PSRM
  • Key narrative:
    Maia Sandu is guilty of closing schools in the Republic of Moldova, of reducing the number of pupils / students. Maia Sandu left teachers without jobs.
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  • Maia Sandu closed schools and laid off teachers, according to the Socialist Bogdan Țîrdea, one of the main promoters of disinformation in Chisinau. The narrative, which is contradicted by statistics, has been used before and is being reactivated now, in the context of the election campaign, in order to destabilize the party founded by Maia Sandu, PAS, which, according to opinion polls, is the favorite.
  • The narrative about the closure of educational institutions in the Republic of Moldova has been used by the left in all election campaigns in the last decade to discredit right-wing parties and the West.
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