Szeged and Pécs join protests for teachers, kindergartens in several Budapest districts stay closed on Friday

October 21. 2022. – 03:36 PM



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The biggest demonstration of recent years was held in Szeged on Thursday evening. About two thousand people gathered in the city centre to demand changes in the Hungarian education system. The organisers were teachers, students, parents and university communities.

They first formed a human chain to express their concern about the situation in public education and the educators working in it, and then stood up for those who have been asking for change with joint singing, reciting poetry and speeches criticizing the government's education policy.

Photo: Dániel Szűcs / Szegeder
Photo: Dániel Szűcs / Szegeder

Teachers from 25 educational institutions in Szeged and the surrounding areas had written a solidarity statement, which was read from the stage and which – among others – states that they ”will continue to act together in the interest of all those working and learning in public education in Hungary, regardless of their institutional background and level of education.

They condemn the intimidation, threats and dismissals recently demonstrated by the authorities. They demand that their constitutional rights, freedom of expression and opinion be respected by all. In and around Szeged, they will not tolerate the harassment of anyone for rightfully speaking out about the unresolved problems of education."

Human chain in Pécs

In the university town of Pécs, a human chain was organised for the usual Friday morning rush hour, but "on the sidewalk, ensuring normal traffic flow", as the organisers announced. In the end, the peaceful protest was 2,5 kilometres long.

Photo: Ervin Güth / Telex
Photo: Ervin Güth / Telex

There were no speeches given, most participants simply held up signs expressing their support for the country’s educators and the changes they started demanding more than a year ago now.

One of the organisers, Levente Bosák, a teacher at the Pécs Secondary School of Arts spoke at a small press conference:

"We are all here today because we have a message that teachers, students, parents and grandparents can all get behind. This includes those who are not directly affected by public education. We have included this in the description of the event: we are motivated teachers, we can and we love to teach. And our work does have value,"

-he said.

Dozens of Budapest kindergartens closed for the day

The same morning, in a kind of organized protest not seen before, none of the kindergartens in Budapest’s 15th district opened on Friday. Most institutions from the 19th and 4th district of the city also joined them, with the overwhelming majority of the institutions in those districts remaining closed for the day.

The nursery school workers want the educators' basic salary to be adjusted to the current minimum wage and to always follow inflation. They also want a retroactive increase in the guaranteed salary for non-teaching staff working in education.

"This is our last chance to make a positive change in our salaries! Maybe now our voices will be heard!"

- the nursery schools in the 15th district wrote in a statement.

The staff of Bóbita Kindergarten in Kispest on Friday morning – Source: Facebook
The staff of Bóbita Kindergarten in Kispest on Friday morning – Source: Facebook

The participating institutions informed the attending children’s parents about the event ahead of time, and the parents expressed their support for the protest.

The staff of Bóbita Kindergarten from the 19th district of Budapest sent out a letter to the parents. In it, they stress that Friday’s event is not directed against the parents or the children, but is necessary because they no longer have any legal means left to bring the tragic state of the education system to the attention of lawmakers.

"It is in Hungary's interest to have well-prepared teachers, educators and trainers who are financially and socially valued to prepare children for the future. No results can be achieved with exploited and humiliated educators!"

The next bigger protest is planned for the afternoon of this Sunday, 23 October, in the streets of Budapest. As usual, we will be there to cover the event.

The translation of this article was made possible by our cooperation with the Heinrich Böll Foundation.

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