First teacher outside of Budapest fired for civil disobedience

December 21. 2022. – 09:02 AM


First teacher outside of Budapest fired for civil disobedience
A protest at Széchenyi tér in Pécs – Photo: Ervin Gűth / Telex


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On Tuesday morning, the head of the Pécs School District Centre invited Gergely Tölgyfa, the teacher of the Pécs Art High School, Secondary School and Technical School, (Pécs Művészeti Gimnázium, Szakgimnázium és Technikum) to a meeting where he was fired, effective immediately.

In addition to Tölgyfa, who teaches drama and acting, at the beginning of December six other teachers from the same school announced that they would be practicing civil disobedience for an indefinite period of time. At the time they initiated negotiations with the head of the school district who received them, but only Tölgyfa has been called in by his employer.

Some of the teachers at the Pécs art high school were among the most active organisers of the local teachers' protests. In November, one of the biggest demonstrations in recent months was held in the city's main square, led by the now sacked Gergely Tölgyfa.

He was a new teacher, still on probation at the school, which made it possible to suspend him immediately without justification. It didn't come to him as a surprise, he expected this to happen at the end of his trial period, i.e. after 22 December.

Although without specifics, but in the preliminary discussion it had already been suggested that he would either be fired or a mutual agreement should be reached to terminate his employment. Each time he practiced civil disobedience, Tölgyfa also carried out a mini protest, and he thinks it is clear that his dismissal is the consequence of this.

Gergely Tölgyfa at the protest in Pécs on 17 November – Photo: Ervin Gűth / Telex
Gergely Tölgyfa at the protest in Pécs on 17 November – Photo: Ervin Gűth / Telex

We spoke to Levente Bosák, who has been practicing civil disobedience along with his colleague and is vice principal of the art high school. He believes that school districts have no idea what to do with civil disobedience. "If something is done to one of us, in principle it should be done to all of us," he adds. He added that they will continue to protest.

Five teachers from the art high school in Pécs are still engaged in civil disobedience and have posted a joint statement on their Facebook pages and profiles: they will continue the indefinite civil disobedience which they began on 5 December, and are asking for equal treatment. They also listed in detail how many of their lessons have so far been affected by their protest.

We also contacted the head of the Pécs School District Centre, Ákos László Tóth, who was appointed in September and was previously the chief education officer of the Pécs Diocese. We wanted to find out the reasons for the decision and whether further teacher dismissals can be expected in the near future. We were also curious to know how many teachers from the institutions belonging to the Pécs school district have reported civil disobedience and how many of them are still in the process of doing so. We will report back as soon as we receive an answer.

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