Budapest, November 6 (MTI) – The wholesale transfer of schools from local councils to the state from Jan. 1 is a “grave mistake”, Ágnes Kunhalmi, a senior official of the opposition Socialist Party, said on Sunday.
As of January 1, 2017 a “complete nationalisation” of schools will take place when the entire running of all schools is placed under the management of the state schools agency (Klik), which is nothing but a “debt-generating machine”, the deputy head of parliament’s education committee and head of the party’s Budapest chapter told a press conference.
Klik has managed to take schools to the brink of dysfunction while the performance of students is slowly declining, Kunhalmi said, calling the move “one of the dumbest and most harmful government moves since the transition to democracy in Hungary”.
Kunhalmi said the only reason why a disaster has so far been averted is because local councils were “still holding the hands of their schools”. If the Socialists win the 2018 elections, schools will be returned to the management of local authorities, she vowed.
Ruling Fidesz said in response that since 2010 the government has had to re-channel missing funding into the education system after the Socialist regime indebted local councils to the tune of 1.3 trillion forints (EUR 4.24 bn). While the left put local councils in charge of schools, it cut funding for education, putting financial strain on local authorities, it added.
Today the state takes full responsibility for schools, building new classrooms, gyms and swimming pools. The government has hiked teachers’ pay, introduced free textbooks and school meals and will raise the education budget by 455 billion forints more next year than it was under the Socialists in 2010.