Human Rights Report on Moldova: Violence in School

Violence in schools is a topic that is present in public life. Mass media frequently broadcast incidents related to this phenomenon. Such acts, committed against children in school, do not fall within the definition of education, which involves an organized process of instruction and education by means of which the person reaches a certain level of physical, mental and spiritual training set by the state, and obtains the corresponding certificate.  Education shall be directed to develop the child's personality and talents, to prepare the child for his active life as an adult, to foster respect for fundamental human rights and for personal, national and of others’ cultural values.

These acts are also condemned by the Convention on the Rights of the Child,  which states that no child shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his or her privacy, family, home or correspondence, or to any unlawful attacks on his or her honour and reputation. The child is entitled to protection of the law against such interference or attacks.The ombudsman examined a case of psychological violence exercised by the teacher on the pupil. Given the extent of the conflict, which was not resolved by the competent local authorities, the ombudsman conducted an investigation on the site. During the investigation it was found that by the teacher‘s behaviour, the constitutional right of children to physical and mental integrity was violated. It was also established that the solution of the conflict was not possible largely due to lack of mechanisms stipulated in Article 43, paragraph (7) of the Law on Education No. 547-XIII of July 21, 1995.  For the same reason, the child-victim was not offered necessary assistance for rehabilitation care, as required by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.  Being alarmed by the given state of affairs, the ombudsman initiated a nationwide study,  which aimed to determine to what extent the legal rule stipulated in Article 43, paragraph (7) of the Law on Education is applied.

The results of the study showed that there are some contradictions in the law. Thus, the term "methodological office" is used only in the content of the Law on Education, while the regional Directorates of education operate with the term "methodological centre", according to Government Decision No. 1380 of  October 29, 2002 on approval of the Regulation-framework of the General  County (Municipal) Directorate on Education, which stipulates that the following services function” under the General Directorate: the school inspection, the methodological centre, the medical and psycho-pedagogical commission, the centralized accounting division, the  initiation group.”
Another aspect highlighted by the study shows that these services are poorly developed. The table below shows that the services, which are less developed, are the psychological service and the methodological-psycho-pedagogical centres, which operate in only three territorial- administrative units.
The reasons why the methodological offices/centres do not operate in the territorial-administrative units Nisporeni, Floresti, and Falesti is the lack of space and sufficient financial resources for the creation, development, maintenance of premises and staff wages. The methodological-psycho-pedagogical centres do not function because of: lack of financial resources (in 7 territorial-administrative units), the service is not planned in the structure of the Directorate on Education (in 7 territorial-administrative units), the lack of specialists (in 4 territorial-administrative units), lack of offices (in 3 territorial-administrative units). Although the Law on Education stipulates that "psychological services operate in each district centre, city (municipality)”, Government Decision No. 1380 of October 29, 2002, by which the Regulations-framework of the General County Directorate is approved and in which the structure and the duties of similar services are described, psychological services are not provided.
The medical-psycho-pedagogical commissions function in the vast majority of territorial-administrative units, except Basarabeasca district, where such services do not function because of lack of funds to pay the members of the commission.

The situation reflected in the findings of the study correlates directly with the total number of registered cases of violence in schools over the past three years. The data for the years 2009-2010-2011 provided by the district Directorates on Education, Youth, and Sport show a steady increase from year to year in the given period.  The annexed chart shows that the vast majority of reported cases are also confirmed as a rule; the proportion of cases that are not confirmed is insignificant. However, violence in schools does not necessarily manifest itself in the teacher/pupil relationship, as we are willing to believe at first sight, but also in pupil/pupil relations or pupil/teacher relations, that is why the request solicited also information on the structure of the cases depending on the type of relation of the reported case.  Data analysis shows a continuous increase of cases of violence in all types of relationships. Violence in pupil/pupil relationship has a significant share in relation to other types of violence. At the same time, the number of cases of pupil/teacher relationship violence exceeds the number of cases of violence of teacher/pupil relationship. Even if the difference is insignificant, it is, at least, an unexpected trend.
The ombudsman believes that the Law on Education is a determinant act in ensuring the right to education, but also through the mechanisms stipulated in Article 43, paragraph (7) which shall provide the children’s physical and psychological integrity throughout the educational process. It should develop the child's personality and talents, reason for which it is important to provide a favourable psychological climate for the child.

It is regretful, but as long as the law will be found only on paper and the officials will find themselves in the situation to face lack of support on behalf of specialized local and central authorities to set up mechanisms meant to ensure their actual operability, one fact remains certain, the phenomenon of violence in schools is increasing. The results of this situation need not be proven; they are outlined in the statistics presented above. In this context, the functioning of the mechanisms stipulated in the Law on Education should be approached at the level of supreme bodies of state power to ensure the child’s maximum potential, because the children themselves do not require observance of their rights, as do other social categories. It is the state’s duty to find special leverage for their protection.

According to Article 36 of the Constitution (1) the right to health is guaranteed. (2) Minimum health insurance offered by the state is free of charge. (3) The structure of the national health care and the means of protecting the person’s physical and mental health are determined by organic law. However, the provisions of Article 50 of the Constitution of the Republic of Moldova guarantee that "mother and child are entitled to special care and assistance." The content of article 24 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child stipulates that “States Parties recognize the right of the child to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health and to facilities for the treatment of illness and rehabilitation of health. States Parties shall strive to ensure that no child is deprived of his or her right of access to such health care services and shall take appropriate measures:  to diminish infant and child mortality; to ensure the provision of necessary medical assistance and health care to all children with emphasis on the development of primary health care; to combat disease and malnutrition, including within the framework of primary health care…”

The Green Line "Child Phone Line" functions under the aegis of the Centre for Human Rights in Moldova. One call, which was registered, informed the ombudsman about a case of TB infection of 15 pupils, out of a total number of 52, at the gymnasium from the village Briceni, Donduseni district. According to the information, the administration of the gymnasium knew that an employee of the gymnasium was infected with TB in open form, but did not take measures to protect the children.
According to Article 21 of the Law on Government no. 64 of May 31, 1990, the ministries are central state bodies, which, pursuant to the laws of the Republic, enforce the Decrees of the President of the Republic of Moldova, the Government policies, its decisions and orders within the areas of competence of the entrusted domains and are responsible for their functioning.

According to section 8, paragraph (5), and (6) of the Regulation on the organization and functioning of the Ministry of Education, approved by Government Decision no. 653 of November 6, 2009, the Ministry of Education "coordinates the development of state educational standards, approves, monitors and ensures their implementation in educational institutions; coordinates and monitors the teaching, the didactic-methodological and the educational activity of the educational institutions, regardless of their subordination.” Also according to section 9, paragraph (45), the Ministry examines the interpellations, the requests and petitions received in its address. Pursuant to the above, the ombudsman asked the Ministry of Education to carry out a control and to determine the persons responsible for the spread of the epidemic disease and to apply disciplinary sanctions to the persons, who have demonstrated negligence in their work. The ombudsman submitted a similar notification to the Prosecutor’s Office.
Having examined the case, the Ministry of Education informed the ombudsman that on the employment date the TB diagnosis did not appear in the medical records of the infected employee, which made acceptable the hiring of the person as the guard of the gymnasium. The Director of the gymnasium got a disciplinary sanction by the Order of the Department on Education. 

Simultaneously, the Ministry of Health created a Commission formed of ministry experts, of the National Centre for Public Health, a phthisio-pulmonary doctor and a paediatric phthisio-pulmonary physician. The Commission made a working visit during which it was found that the District Public Health Centre has received the urgent notification in the name of the gymnasium guard with the diagnosis: infiltrative pulmonary tuberculosis, BAAR positive, who had been hospitalized in the Department of TB Dispensary in Balti. The members of the guard’s family,
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