The president of the Republic of Moldova is closing down universities and schools with teaching in Russian language, Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes, picking up on an older narrative targeting Maia Sandu. Just like the others, this too is a false narrative: although some schools do actually close down, it is in fact a measure linked to reforming and streamlining the education system, having nothing to do with the teaching language.
NEWS: “The president of the Republic of Moldova, Maia Sandu, has started reforming the education system applying the European model, which means less universities.”
[…] “The deputy of the Supreme Soviet in Tiraspol, Andrei Safonov, said Sandu will close down not just Russian universities, but schools too, just like she did during her term as Minister of Education.
Safonov recalled that, while acting as Education Minister, Maia Sandu closed down the majority of Russian schools.
Now, Safonov argues, she will continue to do the same thing, in order to meet the criteria the Republic of Moldova must fulfill as an EU candidate country”.
NARRATIVES: 1. Maia Sandu is closing down universities and schools in the Republic of Moldova as per the EU’s request. 2. The pro-European government in Chișinău is violating the rights of Russian-language speakers.
BACKGROUND:The Ministry of Education and Research in Chișinău announced it will reduce the number of universities and research institutes, which are expected to be integrated in larger higher education institutions. The Ministry said a public debate about this move has been ongoing for a few years already, and the decision is necessary considering the number of students is going down.
The reform of the education system, which includes closing down a number of schools, has been a favorite topic of the left-wing opposition in the last decade. Leftist parties have accused pro-European forces of closing down schools as instructed by the West. The topic has been particularly promoted during the campaign for the presidential elections of 2016 and 2020, blaming Maia Sandu for being the architect behind the closure of a number of schools.
This thesis is also used by both pro-Kremlin and Russian media to promote the equally false idea about undermining the rights of Russian-speaking minorities.
PURPOSE: To promote the misconception that Moldovan authorities violate the rights of Russian-language speakers.
WHY THE NARRATIVES ARE FALSE: It was not Maia Sandu who announced the reform of the higher education system, but the Ministry of Education. Although Maia Sandu remains the de facto leader of the ruling party in Chișinău, she cannot be attributed every action the government takes.
Talks have been ongoing about the reform of the higher education system in the Republic of Moldova for many years, starting with the Education Code voted in 2014. The process is in no way connected with Moldova obtaining EU candidate status, which the European Council granted this country on June 23, 2022.
The number of pupils has gone down by half since the start of the 21st century, from 630 thousand to approximately 330 thousand. During this time, the number of schools was reduced by approximately 20%. Schools with both Romanian-language and Russian-language teaching were closed down. The Minister of Education and Research, Anatolie Topală, recently said that there are currently 972 schools with Romanian teaching and 261 schools with Russian-language or mixed-language teaching in the Republic of Moldova, which reflects the exact difference between the share of Romanian and Russian language speakers, according to the latest census.
GRAIN OF TRUTH: Chișinău authorities have announced the closing down of a number of universities and research institutes, which will be absorbed by other education units.