Teachers plan Feb. 13 demo over working conditions, centralized curriculum

Initiatives

Hungarian teachers are organizing a day of demonstrations on February 13, with protests scheduled in Budapest and elsewhere around the country, to push their demands for better working conditions and a reversal of the centralization of the education system that began after the 2010 elections, Istvánné Galló, president of teachers union PSZ, said yesterday.

The Budapest demonstration is to take place outside the Parliament building, on Kossuth tér.

The teachers released a 25-point petition, detailing the changes they want to see in Hungary’s education system. Their demands include changes to the new government-mandated curriculum, to place less burden on students; the separation of state and institutional control; the provision of “real” costs and expenditures for the operation of the education system; and restoration of a maximum of 22 classes for teachers, who would receive overtime if this number is exceeded.

Teachers said they are ready to strike, according to Galló.

Bence Rétvári, state secretary at the Ministry of Human Capacities yesterday defended the centralized system that was introduced by the ruling Fidesz party when it came to power in 2010, saying that centralization would bring higher wages for teachers. He pledged that the government would reduce bureaucracy by two-thirds, in response to a roundtable on public education, hvg.hu reported yesterday. Rétvári reportedly defended the teachers’ right to protest, saying: “Hungary is a democracy, teachers should feel free to demonstrate.”

Although talks are scheduled with Minister of Human Capacities Zoltán Balog, the strike committee has already convened, and the demonstration is to be held as planned, Galló said.

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