Thousands of public school teachers refused to teach classes Friday morning between 8 am and 10 am in protest of ill-conceived and poorly educated educational reforms introduced under the second and third Orbán governments.
The two-hour work stoppage was called by the Teachers Democratic Trade Union (PDSZ). It was supported by the Tanítanék (I would teach) movement and the civil public education platform as well.
Hungary’s schools and hospitals have become a sensitive issue for Fidesz. Health-care workers (doctors, nurses and specialists) are leaving in droves because the pay is low and working conditions are bad. In an attempt to head off a national teachers’ strike, the government announced the formation of a national education roundtable in February but teachers’ unions have refused to participate, calling its proceedings a sham.
Undersecretary for education László Palkovics is scheduled to meet with the teachers’ strike committee on Monday. He told reporters on Friday that, of the 24 demands set forth by the teachers, the parties are near consensus on 18 points.
The government decisions to nationalize public schools and the textbook publishing industry, and to run public schools from a central government office, have proven to be terrible ideas. Teachers and students are overworked, students do not receive their textbooks in time, pubic school buildings are in disrepair, and high school students are required to take school-leaving exams on subjects they were never taught. In short, wide-reaching educational reforms enacted by Fidesz seem to be doing more harm than good.
Numerous Hungarian news websites are reporting on the protests around the country (with pictures and video), including: