Minister quits over teaching of Romanian in minority schools

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Romania’s education minister resigned Thursday over a political dispute involving the teaching of the Romanian language in schools serving the country’s ethnic Hungarian minority.

Valentin Popa told the Mediafax news agency he disagreed with a demand by the party representing the interests of Romania’s 1.3 million Hungarians to allow Hungarian-speaking teachers to keep teaching Romanian.

The Union of Democratic Hungarians made the demand after the government announced in August that only teachers with a university degree in the Romanian language can teach it.

Romania’s ruling Social Democratic Party declined to back Popa. Party leader Hunor Kelemen said the party wanted the rule to be scrapped immediately as “55,000 children are affected … the school year has begun and it’s chaos.”

“The Romanian language and Romania are not negotiable,” Popa said later in a statement. “All students should know Romanian to have a chance to live and work in Romania.”

Some schools serving Romania’s ethnic minorities teach in the minority language and also are required to teach Romanian.

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