Opposition parties lambast government over education policy – UPDATE
Budapest, January 19 (MTI) – Parties of the leftist and green opposition have savaged the public education system, pointing to meagre salaries and poorly run state schools under the thumb of a centralised organisation.
The Democratic Coalition (DK) called on the government to drop its “campaign against teachers”. DK spokesman Zsolt Greczy said schools suffered from a lack of basic supplies and thousands of teachers last month were not paid on time. He noted that several thousand teachers across the country have mounted protests, he added.
The Dialogue for Hungary (PM) party accused the government of high-handedness over teachers. He called for earlier government pledges of higher pay to be fulfilled. PM politician Gabor Eross said reform of the public education system had led to “chaos” while putting teachers under the burden of red tape which “draws away their creative energies”.
Anett Bosz of the Liberal Party called central school manager Klik a “noxious” organisation which should be scrapped. Public education should be organised and managed at local level, she added. Klik works against the autonomy of schools and is a “danger to freedom of education”, she added.
The green LMP party called on the government to start talks with teachers and provide a meaningful solution to the sector’s problems. LMP deputy Istvan Ikotity referred to a protest initiated by the teachers of a grammar school in Miskolc, noting that more and more communities and individuals are joining the movement. Ikotity said that the annual budget for schools should be increased by 200 billion forints while teacher pay models should be reformed. Schools should again be granted the freedom to choose their own textbooks and headmasters should be elected by the teachers themselves, he added.
The ruling Fidesz party said in a statement that opposition parties were using teachers for political purposes. Moreover, the party, when in government, reduced their pay and sent many “onto the streets”.
“Our government has embarked on the biggest wage-hike programme since the  change of political system…” the statement said, adding that its career model introduced in 2013 had seen pay raises in every year since averaging 50 percent and costing 236 billion forints (EUR 750m).