Budapest, February 13 (MTI) – Participants in a huge demonstration organised by the strike committee of teachers demanded system-level changes in Hungary’s education, in front of Parliament on Saturday.

In her address to the crowd, which filled Kossuth Square, trade union PSZ leader Piroska Galló accused the government of ruining the education through its reforms, which had yielded a system which is “bad for children, teachers, parents, and the whole country”. She insisted that the education currently provided is insufficient whereas “the key to a country’s development is in the classroom”. She also said that the government’s “quasi-solutions” or “sugar rush measures” are unacceptable.

László Mendrey, head of PDSZ, the other large teachers’ trade union, said that the direction of public education was “ill considered” and the situation of the sector was “worrying”. He told the crowd, which he estimated at tens of thousands, that teachers would go on strike unless their demands are met.


Viktoria Szűcs, head of the trade union of creche employees, said that “whatever the ruling parties touch will get stolen or destroyed”. In her address, she complained about a lack of positions and demanded a 30 percent pay rise for the whole of the social services sector.

Mária Sándor, a civil activist nurse, said in her speech that nursing assistants’ wages had not been raised since 2007. “What country will turn a deaf ear to the cries of doctors, nurses, teachers or social workers?” she asked.

The speeches were often interrupted by the crowd chanting “We won’t allow them!”, “Orban, out!” or “Traitors!”.

The strike committee earlier compiled a list of 25 demands including radical cuts in the curriculum and number of classes for children, restoration of the earlier employer and financial management rights of headmasters, lifting mandatory working hours for teachers, reducing their administrative burden and raising the schooling age to the earlier 18 years.

Education state secretary László Palkovics told a press conference that the demonstration was “aimless” and insisted that all issues had been raised at the recent public education roundtable or at separate talks.

“It is a matter of taste whether one is ready to negotiate or stages a protest”, he said, and called for “professional talks” rather than “taking politics to the schools”.

The opposition Socialist Party expressed support for the protesters in an open letter, and said that Saturday’s demonstration was “about Hungary’s future”.

Jobbik also voiced support for the teachers’ demands. Jobbik’s deputy group leader and head of parliament’s cultural committee Dóra Dúró attended the demonstration and told a press conference afterwards that the prime minister should “get off his high horse” and hear the voice of people that “want to see 21st century level education, health, and social sector” in Hungary.

Ferenc Gyurcsány, the leader of the leftist Democratic Coalition (DK), said the demonstration could give hope to many, because the government could not “divide or bribe” participants; “for a moment those teachers were teachers for the whole nation”. Gyurcsány said that all demands of the protesters were aimed at reversing changes introduced after 2010, by the Fidesz government, and suggested that his administration before that period could no longer be blamed for current problems. Tens of thousands of teachers, and 1.5 million children and parents think that education is heading in the wrong direction, he insisted. He added that the core of the problem was not the contested central school manager Klik. “The whole system is the problem, that the government treats nobody as equal partners”.

Photo: MTI


1 comment
  1. Teachers over many years, have been very disruptive to all European civilisation, with their demands and threats. Outside forces are now getting in on the act, “preservation of the tribe.”- so to speak. The Socialists would do anything to disrupt the working of Hungary, in general. They are sour loses, and cannot stand the defeats. The teachers unions are not right either. They beleive they are the gods of humanity. For the past six years, under the FIDESZ government, the teachers have been granted wishes with their pay and working conditions, and still they are not happy. Ask yourselves these questions:- ‘What were the wages like under the Gurcsány government? How well were the children looked after and why did so many young families get into such debts? Why were so many schools closed down and many teachers put out of a job? Infact, why was the country in such a state of bankrupsy up to the 2010 elections under Gyurcsány and Balnai? Do the heads of parties, including the teachers, ever mention these things? Perhaps more people would know the truth about what is going on in their own country if they were informed of the realities that infringed and surrounded them in the past years. Other benefits of today, include the introduction of family financing (including child benefits, house purchasing and free meals for the under privileged). Questions are being asked about the football stadiums that are being built, which, I would say incorporates facilities for athletics and other energy sports. Judging by the look of many young to middle age of late, their sizes are increasing throught obesity and the lack of physical action. There is a need to look deeply at these things and to get the children of all ages to participate more in physical exercise. So don’t downcry the build of sporting facilities, whoever you are. “ROME WAS NOT BUILT IN A DAY.” This applies to Hungary also. Over the centuries, Hungary has had it’s downfalls and hardships, but it has come through. The last episode was the Communists and the Socialists up to 2010. Now we are in a different error, under a respectable government, run by FiDESZ and KDNP under the directorship of Orbán Viktor. Orbán Viktor is attempting to build Hungary up, but it takes time and patience. The past six years have been rewarding, and he contiues to do a wonderful job. The government is working with the people and the country in all things. Think back again to the conditions under the Socialists, since then the teachers have almost 1+1/2 times more in pay and more to come. But they have to work for it, the same as any other worker. There demands are too great, too soon, and this goes for the reduction in their working hours. What for? So they can live an easier life, time at the local Fűrdő, or more time in their summer houses at Balaton? This is true, as I have a teacher living next door. It would be good to teach their own children manners and respect and politeness by saying “hello” when they meet older people. But then again, this is what Socialism and Communism breeds. They infuriate the people everywhere against the government, in the garden, the street and the hairdressers, etc. Old Communists work with the teachers, as it can be seen from the pictures of the protest. Even the head of the PSZ union is Communist, and they say this demonstration was not political. The unions talk of centralisation. The teaching and education standards should be made central, howelse would coriculums be made, along with the retesting of teachers ability be charged. To teach is basically the same as being a doctor, they have to replenish their knowledge every now and then, then tested to make sure they are up to date with modern medicine.
    Teachers of the past, when I was at school, worked in far worst conditions just after the war, but they appreciated and enjoyed their work. They were far more educated than the young teachers of today, and gained more respect. The teachers are losing respect nowadays, because of the lack of commitment and tollerance, and of their constant demands and threats. It would do all teachers good to start giving a little more respect, then people might give them respect and look up to them a little more. Look up to FIDESZ and FIDESZ will look up to you.

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