Role of history in forming person and modernizing society. IPN debate

The curriculum for a new optional school subject, dedicated to the study of the repression committed by the totalitarian communist regime in the 20th century, was recently approved. The provisions of this new discipline, the goals, pluses and minuses of the form in which it is introduced, why only now and what is to be done for the effects of this new discipline to be the expected ones were among the subjects discussed by the experts invited to IPN’s  public debate “The role of history in forming the person and modernizing society”

Igor Boțan, the permanent expert of IPN’s project, explained that the optional curriculum differs from the national one by the fact that in the case of the optional one, the initiative and elaboration of documents are fully within the remit of players of the education sector. The Ministry of Education examines the offers, but does not direct or monitor their elaboration. It must respect the essentials and not duplicate the specifics of the taught subjects. Each curriculum can develop different theories and orientations in the field of education sciences. The optional curriculum provides ground for experimentation.

At the same time, Igor Boțan noted that the repression of the totalitarian communist regime represents crimes committed against citizens by violating their rights to life, freedom, property, conscience, etc., including the organized hunger, the three waves of deportations, persecutions and deprivation of liberty for attitudes, visions, faith, etc. In Moldova, tens of thousands suffered from repression, if not hundreds of thousands of people. Given the aforementioned, it is appropriate to have an optional discipline on the repression of the communist regime in the school curricula, which would contribute to achieving the educational ideal of the Republic of Moldova stipulated in the Education Code, namely “formation of a personality with the spirit of initiative, capable of self-development, possessing not only a system of knowledge and skills necessary for employment on the labor market,  but also independence of opinion and action, being open to intercultural dialogue in the context of the assumed national and universal values”.

Alexandru Postica, president of the Association of Former Deportees and Political Prisoners of Moldova, voiced hope that the decision to introduce this optional discipline is a definitive one and will be the precondition for a new beginning, namely the inclusion of the discipline in a compulsory, not just optional curriculum. The document was approved with certain objections by the National Council for Curriculum and currently the curriculum is called “The totalitarian communist regime. Repression and the Resistance Movement”, being a curriculum in socio-humanistic education.

He noted that the idea belongs to the Association of Former Deportees and Political Prisoners of Moldova, which is the largest association that keeps alive the memory of victims of political repression. This scientific endeavor, which was initiated in 2021, was based on the effort of several people from the community of history teachers and scholars, including Ana Bîtca, Petru Golban, Ala German, Silvia Petrovici, Ludmila Tihonov, Liliana Moroșan and others who worked very thoroughly on this document.

According to Alexandru Postica, the victims of repression should not be limited to only several tens of thousands of people deported to Siberia. He supports the opinion of lawyers regarding the division of this category into three subcategories: victims of political, economic and religious repression. In his opinion, at least one third of Moldova’s population can be qualified as victims of political repression and, in total, there are over 800,000 people who should be classified as victims of political repression, which is about one third of the entire population of Moldova.

Ana Bîtca, doctor of historical sciences, history teacher, deputy director of “Liviu Deleanu” Theoretical High School, said that an optional subject was needed for this topic because it comes to extend the educational process in this field. The proposed curriculum, on which she personally worked, was intended to be a curriculum to enrich knowledge of history. But the new discipline is also related to the Education for Society discipline because it is also about moral values, tolerance, nationalism, chauvinism, other things that contribute to the formation of the personality.

She argued that the victims of repression are mentioned in school textbooks, but not enough for students to understand the extent of those repressive acts to which the population was subject. This made her support the initiative coming from Alexandru Postica and to work together with others to develop this curriculum for an optional discipline that aims to deepen knowledge of the repression of the communist regime.

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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