Tens of thousands join boycott of schools

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Tens of thousands of students are believed to have been kept home from school by their parents yesterday, in a display of solidarity with their teachers, who are protesting against the poor conditions of the centrally controlled school system, the online version of daily Népszava reported.

The organizers of the Facebook campaign “I won’t be in school today” said they were surprised at how many parents – of all party affiliations – were able to join forces in the campaign. Krisztina Puskás, a parent from Szeged in south Hungary who started the campaign, said the the solidarity day’s online program registered 125,000 downloads, so “there was a lot of interest”. 

If the government continues to ignore calls for genuine dialogue on the problems of public education, more boycotts are possible, she said.  

At one school in Budapest, 90% of the students stayed home, and the extra pre-paid school meals that were left uneaten were donated to a homeless organization, providing lunch for 150 people, nepszava.hu reported. 

Teachers protests and demonstrations are becoming more common this year, and they say the problem began with the centralization of school administration in 2010. They say the Klebelsberg Institution Maintenance Center (KLIK), the state-run organization that provides a central administration for schools in Hungary, exercises excessive control over the curriculum – forcing students to take on unnecessary classes that emphasize memorization over analytical thinking. Teachers also complain about poor pay and a lack of funding for basics like chalk. 

Last week, KLIK was placed under the direction of Mrs. Gábor Pölöskei, the sister of the Hungarian president, after the previous director admitted that KLIK was broke.

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