MSZP outlines plans for education reform

August 31, 2017

László Botka, Photo: nyugat.hu

The Hungarian Socialist Party’s (MSZP) candidate for prime minister László Botka (above) named the first minister in his prospective administration on Tuesday, declaring MSZP caucus chair István Hiller minister of education.

According to state news service MTI, Botka said MSZP’s first priority in its government program is education, which he argues has suffered under Fidesz in recent years. Botka said he would expand state funding of education to 6 percent of GDP (according to Minister of Human Resources Zoltán Balog, it is currently at 5.2 percent), adding that the result of the “Orbán education policy” has been the deterioration of students’ knowledge, and that the “Orbán system” does not tolerate professional independence or autonomy but instead “the same kind of teachers teach the same kinds of ideas from the same books in the same schools.”

MSZP believes 21st-century knowledge will be the future of Hungary, Botka said. The party would return “the freedom to teach” to educators who “shouldn’t be the state’s subjects” but should serve the children and the future.

István Hiller, who was Hungary’s Minister of Culture and Education in 2006-2010 and MSZP chairman in 2004-2007, said the entire education system is operating poorly.

“If it stays like this, then servants incapable of change and graduates incapable of finding places in their professions” will be coming out of education institutions, while the most capable students will seek success abroad, Hiller said.

According to index.hu, some of MSZP’s planned education reforms include:

  • returning the minimum required age for school attendance to 18;
  • make it possible once again for municipalities to maintain schools if they so choose;
  • increasing the proportion of general knowledge subjects in vocational training;
  • strengthening foreign language and IT training across the entire education system;
  • making the English language a required subject on graduation exams; and
  • creating a competitive, state-regulated textbook market.

Hiller added that his party opposes any kind of voting census like the one proposed by Jobbik that would strip citizens lacking elementary education of the right to vote.