Entries RSS Feed Share Send to Facebook Tweet This Accessible version

Zoltán Balog dismisses public education undersecretary

February 9th, 2016

In a surprise move,the minister in charge of education fired his undersecretary, just days before she was to due to sit down for talks with protesting teachers. Magyar Nemzet and Népszabadság say this will not be enough to defuse the planned mass demonstrations.Magyar Nemzet ‘s op-ed piece calls the move an old-fashioned technique in the game of politics. However, sacrificing a leader to prove the government’s willingness to compromise will not be enough anymore, the paper warns. It is well-known, Zsombor György explains, that undersecretary Mrs. Judit Czunyi-Bertalan did not invent the educational reforms, only executed them. Firing the undersecretary might ‘rule the moment’ in the political sense (the article refers to a well-known remark by Gábor G. Fodor, director of the pro-government Századvég think tank), but does not pass the test if we look at the broader picture.

The protest movement which is calling on the government to re-think its educational system, started with an open letter by the teachers of a Miskolc high school in January. This grew into street demonstrations (marches of teachers were held in eleven towns last Wednesday – see Budapost February 4). The Minister of Human Resources has decided to convene a round table to discuss the protestors’ demands, while the Teachers Trade Union is planning a mass demonstration in Budapest later this week. The talks are scheduled for Wednesday, and originally were to be conducted by the Undersecretary for Public Education, but she was unexpectedly discharged from her position last Saturday. 

The fact Mrs. Czunyi was not ditched completely, but was appointed to oversee digital content development immediately, an important job in educational policy crying out for a professional figure rather than a politician, is another sign of the crisis, Magyar Nemzet suggests. In the coming weeks the paper predicts an attempt at damage control by the government, which might result in concessions to the protesters.

Discharging the undersecretary from her office will not prevent the system from collapsing onto the heads of the protesting teachers, Népszabadság  speculates in its front page editorial. The paper accuses the government of a general lack of professionalism in educational matters. Appointing a new official whose sole experience in education is that he used to go to school, will only bog down the talks, the authors add. The outcome ‘will be nationwide protest.’

Tags: ,