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Update: Education minister resigns over row with UDMR

Valentin Popa has resigned on Thursday from the Education minister position following a discussion with the PSD chairman Liviu Dragnea previously in the morning.

However, Dragnea has not mentioned the minister would resign at the end of discussions when he came out for press statements.

Popa’s resignation comes amid suspension of the collaboration protocol of the ruling coalition with the Democrat Union of Magyars in Romania (UDMR) over the issue of teaching Romanian in the Hungarian speaking schools in the country.

Valentin Popa told mass media that he had resigned because he had not agreed with UDMR’s request that the ordinance on the Romanian classes at the national minorities schools should be amended.

I don’t agree with the UDMR’s request to adopt the ordinance provision that says the Romanian classes should be taught in the national minorities languages. UDMR would like these classes to be outside the basis norm and that schoolmasters who taught Romanian in the languages of the minorities should get wages higher by 20%. I announced Mrs. premier that I quit,” Popa said.

UDMR chairman Kelemen Hunor said about the resignation that “it doesn’t matter too much” and that he is more interested in removing the provision saying that only teachers with academic background on Romanian studies can teach Romanian within the grades of the national minorities.

Anyway he did not consult us either on the other issue on the government ordinance related to the Medicine Faculty in Targu Mures. In our view, the collaboration with him would have been extremely difficult“, the UDMR leader argued.

Kelemen Hunor has announced on Wednesday that until the issue of teaching Romanian language in the Hungarian speaking elementary schools is solved the collaboration protocol with PSD-ALDE ruling coalition in Parliament is adjourned.

More precisely, Ordinance 9/2018 stipulates that within the primary education, in the schools where the teaching is in the language of the national minorities, usually in Hungarian or German, the classes of Romanian language should be taught by teachers who have a university education in Romanian. The Romanian language used to be taught in these schools by the schoolmasters who had no higher education on Romanian language.

Later on, the ordinance has been repealed within the Government sitting.

UDMR has required an ordinance in this respect and the ruling coalition has endorsed this request. I let the ordinance follow its course, but I announced I won’t sign it and that I shall resign. I consider the Romanian language and Romania are not negotiable. Schoolmasters who have classes in the languages of the national minorities cannot monopolize the process of teaching Romanian language. UDMR’s request has a political goal and it is rather focused on teacher than on the pupil,” the resigning minister Popa said in an extensive press release, adding there have been no pressures on him to step down.

Valentin Popa was appointed Education minister at the end of January 2018 and has been repeatedly slammed for slips of tongue and grammar mistake made during his speeches and press statement.

About Alina Grigoras Butu