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Further repercussions of the teachers’ demonstration

February 16th, 2016

Commentators on both Left and Right ponder the broader implications of the teachers’ rally against the centralized education administration on Saturday.

In Népszabadság, Ervin Tamás contends that the centralization of education shows that PM Orbán wants to dominate all aspects of life in Hungary and that he does not tolerate any dissent. Although teachers have won the concession from the government that more education experts will be involved in the roundtable discussions, the Orbán government is unlikely to reverse the reforms it started, the left-wing commentator remarks. According to Index.hu, on Saturday, PM Orbán told Fidesz MPs behind closed doors that the current centralized administration of education cannot be changed until 2018.

The teachers’ rally has become a general anti-government protest, Szabolcs Szerető writes in Magyar Nemzet. The conservative columnist thinks that education has become far too centralized and bureaucratic under Fidesz, but Szerető also thinks that critics are exaggerating the problems along ideological lines. In conclusion, Szerető contends that although the government is defiant and the dissatisfied teachers are also unlikely to retreat, there is still some chance for a reasonable discussion and compromise on the future of education.

Magyar Hírlap’s Zsolt Bayer dismisses teachers’ criticism that both they and their students are overburdened, and have to spend too much time in the classroom. The pro-government columnist, known for his highly opinionated pieces, describes the teachers’ demands and arguments as good illustrations of what he calls ‘wishy-washy liberal political correctness.’ Bayer finds it peculiar that many of the same middle class parents who find the current curriculum too demanding will enrol their kids in foreign private schools where kids have to wear suits and study even more. As for the broader implications of the rallies, Bayer is convinced that the demonstrations will not unseat the Orbán government.

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