In the past few weeks Hungarian teachers and educational experts alike have been outraged over a recently modified regulation, which states that starting this year the English language contest organised by the Ministry of Education will also test translation competences. The regulation specifies that texts in English can be translated exclusively to and from Romanian. This is unconstitutional, as well as extremely discriminatory towards pupils belonging to national minorities, whose mother tongue is not Romanian. This means that these students will face the added difficulty of having to translate English into another language and viceversa, none of which is their mother tongue.
The Covasna County School Inspectorate had previously asked for this regulation to be modified, on grounds that it violates the basic right and principle of equality before the law. However, the Ministry of Education refused to solve the matter, arguing that the national English contest is designed for students with a ”knowledge above average”. This argumentation nonetheless ignores the fact that the English language contest is supposed to test the pupils’ knowledge of English, not their knowledge of the state language – for which there are separate contests -, and secondly, such a modification clearly puts students belonging to national minorities at a disadvantage compared to their Romanian colleagues.
Our organisation has submitted a complaint regarding this injustice to the National Council for Combating Discrimination (CNCD). We believe that in the 21st century discrimination is unacceptable under any circumstances, and it is especially worrisome that starting from an early age children must face discriminatory treatment and the adverse consequences of belonging to a national minority.
Unfounded accusations against a Hungarian local representative
Sándor TAMÁS, the president of the Covasna County Council is being prosecuted for “publicly supporting war crimes and crimes committed against humanity, as well as publicly proclaiming legionary and demagogic ideas”. The denouncement was made by Mircea DIACON, the head of the Covasna County Commissariat for Consumer Protection, who has taken every opportunity in recent years to undermine the interests of local Hungarian businesses and events.
As we have reported in our newsletters last year, the head of consumer protection has demonstrated a manifestly anti-Hungarian behaviour on several occasions, in particular during an incident in Odorheiu Secuiesc/Székelyudvarhely, involving a Hungarian woman working at the grill unit of the Kaufland store, who apparently refused to attend a Romanian customer for not speaking Hungarian. Regarding this case, the president of the Covasna County Council stated that Consumer Protection was applying a double standard, and was taking anti-Hungarian measures with the support of the state, similarly to the Ku Klux Klan in America, more than a hundred years ago.
This statement was denounced by Mircea DIACON, who completely distorted the words of Sándor TAMÁS. In his complaint the head of consumer protection claims that the County Council president is promoting the activity of the Ku Klux Klan. This allegation is false, since Sándor TAMÁS did not in any way promote the activity of the KKK, quite the contrary, he vehemently condemned it, and only mentioned it as a negative example.
This case is a good example of double standards applied in Romania. While the rights of the Hungarian community are often ignored, and the local leaders that try to protect them from institutional abuses are persecuted, the author of the fabricated video that sparked the above-mentioned Kaufland scandal received no punishment. This incident also serves to show that the Romanian media often incites against the minorities living in the country, since for more than two days they ran a seemingly anti-Romanian video, which was later proved to be manipulated, and sparked considerable animosity against Hungarians in the country.