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Thousands Join Teachers in Union Demo for School Reform

Despite the heavy rain, a crowd of more than ten thousand teachers and their supporters demonstrated yesterday in front of the Parliament building in Budapest, to demand reforms in the Hungarian education system, according to reports.

Demonstrators gathering on Kossuth tér said that the system is under threat from the overwhelming administrative tasks teachers must handle, the excessive material students need to deal with in their studies – and the omnipotence of Klebelsberg Institution Maintenance Center (KLIK), a central body created in 2010 to oversee all education matters in the country.

István Gallóné, the head of teachers union (PSZ), which organized the demonstration, said in a speech at the demonstration that decisions are made by Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, and government representatives just carry out his orders, online daily reported. “If you are on a dead horse, get off of it”, Gallóné said at the demonstration, claiming that this proverb was one of Orbán’s favorites, and applies to this situation well.

“Our patience is gone, it’s been enough”, Gallóné said, and the gathered crowd chanted “We won’t let it [happen]” and “We’re not afraid”, according to The head of PSZ said that the Hungarian government has destroyed the education system in the last three years, and created a system that is bad for the students, teachers and parents.

László Mendrey, the head of the democratic teachers union PDSZ, told demonstrators that Orbán was right when he said that the demonstration was instigated by outside political forces, but Mendrey said the outside political power is Orbán himself.

The protest also included speeches from students and school administrators. The principal of the Teleki Blanka High School in Budapest, István Pukli, noted that the regime is “not accustomed to people saying ‘no’” and added that the government had now entered into its most stubborn phase. Mr. Pukli demanded that the regime spend 6% of Hungary’s GDP on education, in order to address the damage that they have done over the past six years.

One of the most powerful moments of the protest was when the 20,000 demonstrators in Kossuth Square held a five-minute long period of complete silence. Virtually nobody moved and almost complete silence enveloped the crowded public square. The regime’s problems will really begin if one day the tens of thousands of protests come out to Kossuth Square and simply refuse to go home.


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