Teacher demonstrations in 10 cities oppose centralization

Initiatives

Thousands of Hungarian teachers, and supporters of their cause, rallied simultaneously in ten Hungarian cities yesterday, to demand the closure of the governmentʼs central education body and to call for better financial support of schools and teachers, according to reports.

Supporters of the teachers demonstration, which was centered in Miskolc, rally in Budapest to show solidarity. (Photo: MTI/Tibor Illyés)

The demonstration was centered in Miskolc, where teachers of Herman Ottó secondary school published an open letter in November that said the education system in Hungary was in danger. Teachers say they are especially opposed to the centralization of education, which began after the ruling Fidesz party took power in 2010.

Government officials have defended that system in recent statements.

Teachers say that Klebelsberg Institution Maintenance Center (KLIK), the central education body created by Fidesz, has introduced so many reforms, and such excessive paperwork, that educators cannot focus on teaching students anymore, according to reports.

Another point of contention mentioned is the requirement that teachers use state-approved textbooks. The teachers say the books are not reliable and contain factual and grammatical errors, according to reports. The teachers are demanding more leeway in developing curriculums and choosing textbooks, reports said.

Teachers also criticize the lack of necessary school supplies, including chalk, paper and printing cartridges, according to reports. Some teachers claim that their schools were forced to run without printer cartridges and with chalk that was purchased by the teachers themselves for months.

This demonstration comes almost a week before the scheduled demonstration of teachers set for February 13. That demonstration is also supposed to take place in cities around the country, with the main protest here in Budapest to gather outside the Parliament building.

The teachers association (PSZ) issued a 25-point declaration, detailing the changes the government should make to the current education system. According to reports, PSZ head Istvánné Galló said that if their demands are not heard, teachers could go on a countrywide strike as well.

Minister of Human Capacities Zoltán Balog is scheduled to meet with representatives of teachers in the coming days, to engage in negotiations on the issue, but government officials have said they will not scrap the centralized control of the education system.

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