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Pro-government columnists call for more patience towards school reforms

September 6th, 2013

A pro-government weekly finds the criticism directed at the new school reforms hasty and harsh, while another commentator acknowledges teachers’ need for higher salaries but says liberal critics misrepresent the reforms and foster hysteria.

The new school year started with wide-ranging reforms, raising most teachers’ salaries and increasing their workload, requiring children to stay at school until 4 o’clock and assigning policemen to schools. Liberal critics accuse the government of returning to the authoritarian schools of the Kádár-era. (See BudaPost September 3.)

In Heti Válasz (print edition), editor-in-chief Gábor Borókai cautions critics against “emitting final certificates on the first day of the school year”. Even liberal experts acknowledge, he argues that an overhaul of the education system only brings results in 10 to 15 years. He believes that teachers’ wage hikes are a first step towards enhancing their status and recognition. Critics are entitled to their opinion concerning the new distribution system of textbooks or the presence of policemen in schools, but they should also consider that the reforms mostly promote equal opportunities for all children, Borókai suggests, arguing that what liberals describe as authoritarian features in fact serve disadvantaged children whose parents cannot afford after school activities or even parental supervision.

In Magyar Hírlap, leading columnist Zsolt Bayer acknowledges that teachers are underpaid and overworked and calls for less administrative burdens and higher pay for them.  He echoes Borókai by suggesting that the new measures are essential in defending underprivileged students – the very Roma children, he says, that liberals want to save from the harmful impact of their environment. “Average” parents can always submit a request for their children to leave school earlier – “or is this too bothersome, comrades?” he taunts left-wingers who are horrified by the changes. He dismisses liberal critics as “scoundrels spreading lies” – such as crying “police state” simply because policemen will defend teachers and children alike from insults or bullying.