A solidarity demonstration for teachers was held in Budapest on Sunday, the commemoration day of the 1956 Revolution and War of Independence, jointly organized by the Adom Student Movement and the Democratic Trade Union of Teachers (PDSZ), the state news agency MTI reported.
The demonstrators gathered at Kálvin Square and then marched across Szabadság [‘Liberty’] Bridge to the stage on the Technological University quay.
Erzsébet Nagy, representative of the PDSZ, said that today, they are fighting not only for higher teachers' salaries and a reduction in teachers' workload, but also against illegal employer measures. These are attempts to "suppress" discontent, she added.
She pointed out that teachers were leaving the teaching profession in droves, and that the shortage of teachers had become unmanageable. "Everyone can see this, but the government is not lifting a finger," she said.
Erzsébet Nagy presented the demands of the United Student Front, a coalition of students: a solution to the teacher shortage, more usable curricula, more livable school conditions, the restoration of the right to strike, and attention to education.
Zsuzsanna Szabó, President of the Teachers' Trade Union (PSZ), stressed that wage adjustments are necessary but not sufficient to solve the problems of education. She said that the net salary of a beginner teacher is equivalent to a 500-euro banknote, and banks do not even give loans for that.
She also pointed out that thousands of teachers retire every year and there is no replacement. "Your future is at risk because of the wages," the union leader warned the audience of students, adding that there were 16,000 teachers missing from nurseries and schools, and that a fifth of schools were staffed by teachers without qualifications.
Referring to the PM Orbán's October 23 speech unusually held in the countryside, Fruzsina Schermann, president of the Adom student movement, said that they were the only ones who dared to speak in the capital on the anniversary of the 1956 revolution and the fight for freedom. "We are not afraid, we are not backing down and we are right", she said, explaining that "an oppressive power ignores and mocks us", but we must defiantly persevere.
Budapest mayor Gergely Karácsony stressed that all 3,200 municipalities in the country would be happy to take back schools [that the government had taken away] to serve their local communities.
He was speaking at the Műegyetem quay by the Danube, after tens of thousands of participants of the solidarity demonstration for teachers organized by the ADOM Student Movement and the Democratic Trade Union of Teachers (PDSZ) marched from Kálvin Square to the quay.
He said that the dismantling of educational freedom started with taking away schools from local authorities, then taking away the freedom to choose textbooks, and now they want to take away the children's teachers.
Also making a reference to PM Orbán who said in Zalagerszeg that Budapest is not equal to the country, the mayor said that the government is not equal to the country either; the only thing that is equal to the country is the school, “because the teacher is the teacher of all of us.”
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