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Clash of the Titans: the Education Bill

November 18th, 2011

Népszabadság calls on the former Fidesz Education Minister, Zoltán Pokorni (1998-2002) to block the new Education Bill, while Magyar Hírlap believes that there is nothing wrong with the draft, as it promotes national values.

There is an ongoing debate between current education state secretary Rózsa Hoffmann and the former education minister of Fidesz Zoltán Pokorni, about the new Education Bill. Rózsa Hoffmann recently accused her opponents of wanting to restore the social-liberal era. Zoltán Pokorni replied in an interview that even communist-era politicians were smarter, because at least they suggested that “those who are not against us, are with us” (a reference to a famous remark by János Kádár in the early 1960s). The most contentious issues today are the government’s intention to take over school ownership from local councils, and its plan to make compulsory elements in the curriculum more specific than they have been under the present “national framework curricula”.

Népszabadság wonders whether Zoltán Pokorni ever imagined he would be the one desperately trying to apply the brakes to a hardcore conservative education bill, which his own government appears intent on passing. The left wing daily calls the draft unacceptable from both professional and human rights points of view.

“There is no room to discuss professional career models, when the draft on the table  legitimates segregation and favours the middle class,” – Judit N. Kósa suggests, and accuses Zoltán Pokorni of opposing only relatively insignificant details, instead of attacking the substance. She believes Pokorni is the only politician now who can prevent “Rózsa Hoffmann’s nightmare from becoming a reality, and blocking social mobility and equality,” even though to do so he would have to put his own political career at risk.

The bill will not handicap teachers, students or parents – argues Ervin Nagy in a OpEd piece in  Magyar Hírlap, and suggests that just one political group (with an opposition background) is trying to ring the alarm bells.

For the first time, no liberal values lurk behind government policies,” – Nagy continues, adding that those who oppose the draft actually do so because the bill supports national values.

“Unlike their 19th century predecessors, modern liberals are cosmopolitans,” – writes Nagy, who detects political motives behind the uproar, because the new bill “means that new generations will be educated according to national values.”