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Weeklies on teachers’ protest

February 22nd, 2016

Left-wing and liberal weeklies accuse the government of destroying the education system. A pro-government commentator, on the other hand, speculates that the opposition parties are orchestrating the teachers’ protests in the hope that they can bring down the Orbán government, if another flow of migrants reaches Hungary in the spring.

Teachers are protesting in the name of future generations against corrupt governance, Zoltán Czeglédi writes in 168 Óra. The left-wing columnist goes so far as accusing the government of ‘high treason’ on the grounds that by centralising the system of public education it allegedly deprives young Hungarians of access to proper education. Czeglédi likens the current government’s policies to the former Communist rule. At that time too, loyalists were placed in all important positions in order to entrench Communist power. Teachers revolting against the centralization of education are thus contesting the spirit of the Orbán regime in general, Czeglédi concludes.

In Élet és Irodalom, Péter Radó accuses the government of “completely destroying the system of education”. The liberal education expert cites the 2012 Pisa education surveys to claim that students’ competencies have significantly deteriorated under the Orbán government. Radó argues that the reason for this decline is a combination of different factors: the lack of a proper curriculum, overburdened students, an overcentralized administration and underfinanced education. As a result of centralization, teachers have no way to raise their concerns through professional channels, and so they have to start political action in order to challenge the current system, Radó suggests. He predicts that if teachers can keep the government under constant pressure, their protest may succeed and the overcentralized system can be brought down.

Even if teachers fail and cannot change the education system, their protest is helping tens of thousands of citizens to realize that their worldview cannot be squared with the Orbán regime’s vision, Magyar Narancs predicts. The left-liberal weekly suspects that the teachers’ protest might just create the groundwork for a broader anti-Fidesz movement.

Magyar Demokrata’s András Bencsik calls the teachers protest “diabolic”. The pro-government columnist suspects that protesting teachers want to establish a broader anti-government coalition in order to bring the Orbán government to its knees, and possibly bring former PM Gyurcsány back to power. Bencsik speculates that the protests of employers in the public sector may have been orchestrated by opposition parties, the same ones who want to weaken the government by criticizing its immigration policy. He goes on to speculate that the flow of migrants is likely to increase in a month’s time, and the rallying teachers want to weaken the government’s credibility by the time migrants arrive and cause further problems.


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