The closing down of a grammar school for 51 pupils gave rise to a false narrative claiming that “Russian-language schools are being closed down in the Republic of Moldova”.
NEWS: “The authorities want to close down the last remaining Russian-language schools in the district. As part of the program aimed at improving the education system, the number of schools with Russian-language teaching in the Republic of Moldova is going down every year.
Now, they plan on shutting down the only grammar school with Russian-language teaching in the district. It is located in Misovca village (with a population of approximately 500 inhabitants, e.n.) in Ialoveni District. Parents are worried their children will no longer be able to assimilate the curricula taught in state schools and will have a hard time sitting next year’s graduation exams. Pupils will be forced to study not just new subjects, but also new words”.
At the end of the article, the author claims there are 51 pupils enrolled at the school in Misocva, and that there are over 200 schools with Russian-language teaching in the Republic of Moldova.
NARRATIVES: 1. The (pro-European) authorities in Chișinău are closing down Russian-language schools. 2. The rights to education of national minority groups are being undermined in the Republic of Moldova.
BACKGROUND: The Republic of Moldova is an ex-Soviet country where Russian held a privileged status during the Soviet period, being used as the language of the communist elite and of minority groups, Russian and Ukrainian minorities in particular.
According to legislation adopted at the end of the Soviet era, Russian is used as a language of inter-ethnic communication. The law was declared obsolete in a Constitutional Court ruling. Meanwhile, the share of the national minorities went down, and according to the 2014 census, 82% of the population is Moldovan/Romanian (in 2004, 78% identified itself as Moldovan/Romanian), followed by Ukrainians with 6.6%, Gagauzians with 4.6% and Russians 4.4%.
Although the share of the Russian-language speakers is dropping, there are still politicians and parties who are trying to use national minorities for electoral purposes, by promoting certain themes such as declaring Russian as the second official language of Moldova.
The issue of Russian-language teaching is also tackled in the context of a prolonged process of reducing the number of schooling units at national level, considering the overall drop in the country’s population and hence the number of school children.
The political left-wing is accusing the pro-European right-wing of closing down schools at the West’s bidding. The favorite target of criticism is Maia Sandu, the current president of the Republic of Moldova, considering she served as Education Minister during 2012-2015.
This was also one of the main topics for debate in last year’s campaign for the presidential election. At the time, the authorities however made public statistics showing that the number of schools has been dropping constantly starting 2002-2003, in the context where the number of pupils has also gone down. In the last 20 years, the number of schools was cut back by approximately 300 units, accounting for 20% of the total number of schools, while the number of pupils went down by nearly half, from 631,000 to 334,000.
Moreover, even during the Socialists’ term in office (2019-2021), schools were shut down, although the Socialists are the most vehement critics of the school reform.
PURPOSE: To refuel the phobias of national minorities by making them believe the pro-European government in Chișinău will limit their rights. To support the pro-Russian and anti-Western views of most of the representatives of national minority groups.
WHY THE NARRATIVES ARE FALSE: Although the article is titled “Schools with Russian-language teaching are being closed down in the Republic of Moldova”, in fact we’re talking about a single school with 51 pupils, who at any rate will have to enroll in a high-school with Russian-language teaching in a different district or in Chișinău, or to opt for a Romanian-language high-school. If they choose to sign up for a school with Romanian-language teaching now, it will be easier for them to assimilate the curricula and prepare their final exams.
Moreover, the authors of the article fail to mention the fact that the citizens of the Republic of Moldova, including its pupils, must speak the official state language.
In the Republic of Moldova, 16% of schools have Russian-language classes, accounting for the exact share of national minority groups. Hence, no rights to Russian-language teaching have been violated.
GRAIN OF TRUTH: In the last two decades, a number of schools have been closed down in the Republic of Moldova due to the decreasing number of pupils. However, the process has affected schools with both Russian and Romanian language teaching.