Teacher demonstration in front of Hungarian Parliament | János Marjai / MTI

Teachers protest Hungarian education system

February 13, 2016

Despite the pouring rain, thousands of people filled Kossuth Square in front of the building of Hungarian Parliament this Saturday to join the teachers's demonstration against the the education policy conducted by the government of Viktor Orbán.

According to the Hungarian news agency MTI, participants in the huge demonstration organised by the strike committee of teachers demanded system-level changes in Hungary’s education. The mass demonstration was the largest since the series of so-called 'Internet protests' in 2014, when tens of thousands marched in opposition to the regime’s plans for an internet tax.

In her address to the crowd, which filled Kossuth Square, trade union PSZ leader Piroska Galló accused the government of ruining the education through its reforms, which had yielded a system which is “bad for children, teachers, parents, and the whole country”.

She insisted that the education currently provided is insufficient whereas “the key to a country’s development is in the classroom”. She also said that the government’s “quasi-solutions” or “sugar rush measures” are unacceptable.

László Mendrey, head of PDSZ, the other large teachers’ trade union, said that the direction of public education was “ill considered” and the situation of the sector was “worrying”. He told the crowd, which he estimated at tens of thousands, that teachers would go on strike unless their demands are met.

Viktória Szûcs, head of the trade union of creche employees, said that “whatever the ruling parties touch will get stolen or destroyed”. In her address, she complained about a lack of positions and demanded a 30 percent pay rise for the whole of the social services sector.

Mária Sándor, a civil activist nurse, said in her speech that nursing assistants’ wages had not been raised since 2007. “What country will turn a deaf ear to the cries of doctors, nurses, teachers or social workers?” she asked.

The speeches were often interrupted by the crowd chanting “We won’t allow them!”, “Orban, out!” or “Traitors!”.

The strike committee earlier compiled a list of 25 demands including radical cuts in the curriculum and number of classes for children, restoration of the earlier employer and financial management rights of headmasters, lifting mandatory working hours for teachers, reducing their administrative burden and raising the schooling age to the earlier 18 years.


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