Ten opposition parties discuss education reform

November 14, 2017

Ten opposition parties discuss education reform
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Ten opposition parties, including Jobbik, the Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP), Democratic Coalition (DK), Momentum, Politics Can Be Different (LMP), Dialogue for Hungary (PM), Együtt, the Liberals (Magyar Liberális Párt), Movement for a Modern Hungary (MoMa) and Új Kezdet (New Beginning), participated in a joint conference on public education. The parties determined that if they were to come to power in 2018, they would spend 6% of GDP on education and restore significant autonomy to public schools nationalized under the second Fidesz government, reports hvg.hu.

Reminiscent of the initiative that resulted in a document outlining a “health-care minimum” agreed to by ten opposition parties, the participating parties debated their ideas focusing on common goals for education at the “Parties on Education 1” event, organized by the Civil Public Education Platform (CKP). The governing parties were invited as well but Fidesz and KDNP declined to participate. Included topics at this first event were sustainability and autonomy.

The parties also determined that they would immediately change what they see as harmful practices that do not directly affect the structure of education and can thus be eliminated quickly: mandatory language exams for university applications and the requirement for students to remain in school buildings until 4 pm, for example.

In the wake of the educational “reforms” of the past seven years, the centralization of education is not seen favorably, and the general consensus at the conference was that self-determination must be given back to the local communities. Reforms against centralization would include the removal of the centrally determined curriculum and standardized textbooks so that teachers could flexibly tailor lessons for the students.

Additional proposals included fewer work hours for both students and teachers, increasing the age at which students leave school, and restructuring the funding system.

In CKP’s evaluation, the different parties’ educational policies overlap significantly and coincide with CKP’s own proposals. CKP further welcomed that the parties were open for dialogue and listened to the questions of pedagogues, parents and students.