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Debate on ‘Taygetos Act’

June 9th, 2017

As the left-wing opposition accuses the government of educational eugenics, commentators sharply disagree on the meaning of a recent amendment to the Public Education Act. 

In Népszava, psychologist Dániel Juhász reiterates his condemnation of new legislation which abolishes the current waiver which allows children who suffer from mild development disorders to give up courses in subjects they have difficulty in understanding. In a letter to the authorities, Juhász branded the amendment adopted in Parliament on Tuesday a ‘Taygetos Act’ (a reference to the Spartan habit of throwing deformed or weakly children into a chasm on Mount Taygetos) and the label has been extensively used by the opposition in its critique of the new law. Juhász has been widely criticised for alleging that pupils unable to understand certain subjects would now be regularly shamed and thus traumatised, while the law did not refer to serious cases of dyslexia or dyscalulia as he claims. He now writes that it should be up to psychologists to judge in each individual case whether children with development disorders should be compelled to follow certain courses at school.

In Magyar Idők, Éva Bonczidai, an art development teacher replies that psychologists are in fact in charge of that decision under the new law. If they find that the disorder is grave, they will exempt the pupil from following certain courses. If it is mild, on the other hand, exemption is the wrong solution, she believes. Specialised care is needed to overcome a hurdle instead of surrendering. She believes the law is intended to helping children with mild cases of development disorder rather than throwing them from Mount Taygetos.