Igor Botan: You cannot build a future if you don’t know your past

The National Council for Curriculum and Evaluation at the end of January approved the curriculum for the optional discipline dedicated to the study of the repression of the totalitarian communist regime in the twentieth century. Igor Boțan, the permanent expert of IPN’s project, said that this discipline is essential for students to better understand the phenomenon of repression at the local level. “You cannot build a future if you don’t know your past because you don’t know what is absolutely necessary to avoid, while this optional curriculum I think is very important for young people, students to have basic knowledge of what our society has gone through,” the expert stated in a public debate hosted by IPN.

Igor Botan noted that he learned about the repression from his family. “We all know, at least those from my generation, what conditions we are in, even if the deportations, the atrocities that our grandparents, our ancestors went through were far away. Now the new generation can find out all these things and it is important to learn them through a course like this curriculum. And we start from things we know from the Bible: “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free”. Otherwise, you can'’ judge. And it’s purely practical stuff. We have neighboring countries that are rewriting history and trying to convince through rewritten history that all empires, for example, were bad except for one empire that was good and made everyone happy. We see that this empire has now started a war in the neighboring country. We see the consequences of this war and we understand that if things are not properly settled, if they are not brought to the attention of the younger generations, they remain untapped, and people subsequently become victims of those who care to revise history,” said the expert.

He went on to say that in that country that says it was the only positive empire, today people are arrested and go to jail for displaying the word “peace”. Elderly people are sent to prison for publicly expressing their attitude towards what is happening. No one should have any illusions that what happened cannot repeat. For society not to allow such things to happen again, it must educate its citizens from an early age so that they have a kind of “antidote” to such processes from the very beginning. The task of any school and curriculum is to “seed” knowledge that later, during personality development, will help form well-educated people who know how to value freedom, who know what happened in the past and what can no longer and should no longer be allowed.

Igor Boțan does not rule out the possibility that young people, if they find a well-elaborated material that emotionally touches them, they will certainly want to later find explanations why an absolutely normal society, from the point of view of socioeconomic development, for now lags behind, but, at the same time, has aspirations to reach a community of states where it can find its place and which will allow this society to develop absolutely normally,  enjoying all the freedoms that humans have from birth.

The expert said that improved knowledge of the past can influence the option of Moldovan society towards European integration, noting that all former communist countries in Europe are currently members of the European Union. “Of course, in our society we see this from opinion polls. There is this division, this cleavage. It is very deep. This cleavage surely has historical roots and now it is deepened even more because of the occupation war of the Russian Federation against Ukraine. We cannot be a nation if we don’t know our past, if we don’t know our history because knowing the past and history is nothing but respect for our ancestors. This is very important. We have roots and we need to know these roots. Each family apart and the community as a whole must know who we are, what we have gone through, what lessons we have learned from this past so as to build our future,” concluded Igor Boțan.
The public debate entitled “The role of History in forming the person and modernizing society” was the 29th installment of IPN’s project “Impact of the Past on Confidence and Peace Building Processes”, which is supported by the Hanns Seidel Foundation of Germany.

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