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Socialists pledge solidarity with protesters for education reform

The Socialist party stands with the participants demanding wage raises for teachers and "restoring professionalism and trust" in education in a demonstration at the Hermann Otto Secondary School in Miskolc, in northeast Hungary, co-leader Agnes Kunhalmi told a press conference streamed online on Monday.

The demonstrators formed a human chain around the school on Monday morning in protest against the firing of its deputy director for participating in an action of civil disobedience organised by teachers last week.

Kunhalmi, who is vice-president of parliament’s cultural committee, told the press conference held in front of the interior ministry in Budapest that Hungarian public education was “over-politicised, with rampant unprofessionalism”. Students drop out in droves and more than 10,000 teachers are missing from the public education system, she said.

While the government spent 5.4 percent of GDP on education in 2010, that ratio will drop to 3.4 percent next year, she said, calling for the funding to be raised to 6 percent of GDP.

She also called for wage hikes for teachers, for the autonomy of education to be restored, and for trust to be rekindled between teachers, students, parents and the government.

“Prime Minister Viktor Orban set an example of civil disobedience earlier, when he dismantled the metal barriers [raised against protesters in 2007] in Budapest’s Kossuth Square. But we all know that that was a democracy, and this isn’t one,” Kunhalmi said.

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