Sunday demonstration unveils policy recommendations for education

January 29, 2018

_HDA5004
Photo: abcug.hu/András D. Hajdú

Tanítanék Mozgalom (‘I Would Teach’ Movement) held a demonstration Sunday afternoon in Budapest’s Kossuth Square to publicize policy recommendations formulated by the movement in conjunction with Hungary’s main left-liberal parties under the title “a minimum for education.” With the exception of Jobbik and Fidesz, every parliamentary opposition party took part in crafting the policy recommendations. Online dailies Index.hu and 24.hu put the number of attendees somewhere between 1,000-1,500.

Program points include:

  • A radical decrease in the amount of time students spend in class,
  • Education that is more oriented toward the development of skills and critical thinking rather than rote memorization,
  • Specific education programs for students with special needs,
  • Institutional autonomy,
  • Freedom to select textbooks,
  • More mobility among schools, i.e., students should have the opportunity to change schools if they want to,
  • A decrease in workload for teachers and higher wages, and
  • Increasing education spending to 6 percent of GDP.

In her address to the crowd, Mrs. István Galló of the Teachers’ Union said that for the past 28 years every party has talked about the strategic importance of education but these words never translated into action, reports Index.hu.

“28 years after the change of political system, how have we arrived at the point where we have to raise our voices in support of peace and freedom?” Galló asked, before adding that there will be no peace or freedom unless there is dialogue between the government and opposition parties concerning the most pressing public policy issues.

Experts from MSZP, LMP, Új Kezdet, Momentum, MLP, Együtt, and Párbeszéd all worked together to craft the education policy proposal, and all support the initiative.

Since returning to power in 2010, the Orbán government has carried out a radical centralization of Hungary’s education system involving the nationalization of public schools previously owned and run by municipalities to the detriment of students and teachers alike, according to government critics.

In its own coverage of the event, pro-government print daily Magyar Idők reported that the true goal of the Tanítanék Mozgalom is to oust the Fidesz government. The daily’s coverage of the event was limited to mapping out how the event’s participants are affiliated with anti-government organizations (NGOs and civil movements).

“The Tanítanék Mozgalom actively participated in the preparation of last year’s Central European University protests and other attempts to oust or weaken the government,” reported the government propaganda outlet, estimating the size of the demonstration to be no greater than 500.