Budapest, March 22 (MTI) – The state agency managing Hungary’s schools (Klik) will be abolished in the summer, a human resources ministry official said on Tuesday.
A new regulatory framework will be designed during the spring session of parliament with the aim of establishing a new, far less centralised system by the autumn, parliamentary state secretary Bence Rétvári told commercial news channel ATV.
There are real problems in public education, he said. One is the way the central schools manager operates the other is that students are overburdened, Rétvári added.
Whereas Klik will be abolished, the state will continue to run the country’s schools, Rétvári said in a separate interview to public radio.
The government has no intention of returning to the state of affairs prior to 2010 and the system whereby local councils ran the schools, he said, adding that decision-making should nevertheless take place closer to schools.
Explaining the reason for closing down Klik, he said criticism over the recent past had centred on the body. Discussions at the public education roundtable so far suggest that it would be worth reducing centralised control, Rétvári added.
The state secretary said that the government does not have the resources to spend more on public education. The wages of teachers will rise according to previously laid-down plans, but by no more, he added.
The opposition Együtt party said in a statement that it had repeatedly called for Klik to be scrapped ever since the body was established. Egyutt insisted that the ruling Fidesz party “has finally begun to implement Együtt’s education proposals”. Együtt MP Szabolcs Szabó said the government should implement a modern system that can operate sustainably over several decades.
The Democratic Coalition said the only way the education system could be changed were if the Orban government resigned. Zsolt Gréczy, the party’s spokesman, told a news conference that the announcement could not be taken to be official and it could be assumed the government would retreat from its “cheap, empty promise”.
Green opposition LMP expressed doubt that the closing down of Klik would be enough to bring about the “radical” changes needed in Hungary’s education system. Lawmaker István Ikotity told a press conference, however, that scrapping Klik was a step in the right direction and congratulated those who participated in the protests against the institution. He added the fact that the announcement was made by the ministry’s parliamentary state secretary rather than the state secretary in charge of public education or the minister himself raised the possibility that the move is merely a “rebranding” of Klik, creating a less centralised institution.
The Liberal Party said the announcement was a “cheap government trick” to stir up confusion among protesting teachers. Anett Bősz, the party’s spokeswoman, told a news conference that the government insisted it was sticking to its guns over schools policy before mounting a campaign against those who criticised the system on professional grounds. Retvari, who announced the dismantling of Klik, only a day earlier had attacked teachers in parliament, she said, adding that the government’s behaviour over the past six months had been “ridiculous”.
The Dialogue for Hungary party said the announcement was an attempt by the government to divert attention away from a planned teachers’ strike scheduled for March 30. Tímea Szabó, the party’s co-leader, told a news conference that it was “unacceptable” that Retvári’s declaration had not been accompanied by any substantive statement.
The Klebersberg School Manager (Klik) was established by the government of Viktor Orbán in 2012. At two recent demonstrations, teachers urged the body’s elimination among other demands.