In next year’s budget, the government will be spending 645 billion forints (1.95bn) more on education than in 2010, Gergely Gulyás, the prime minister’s office chief, said on Saturday.
At an event of Reformed Church colleges of the Carpathian Basin held in Pécs, in southern Hungary, Gulyás said the government was carrying out the biggest school development programme of the past thirty years, with 110 billion forints of European Union funding combined with 46 billion forints of state support.
Fully 158 projects are being carried out from domestic sources. The projects include the renovation of gyms and classrooms and the construction of new schools. Further, this year all pupils from the first to the ninth grade attending both state and church schools will receive free textbooks, he said.
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He noted that 14 percent of schools are run by the church, twice as high as nine years ago.
Gulyás said church schools catered to all segments of society, from manual labourers and the needy to the well-to-do, as well as believers and those seeking faith.
Gulyás said today’s Hungarian government recognised and respected the role of churches in society and considered it essential. Churches offer an education “based on Christian values and knowledge, as well as the seeking and strengthening of faith.”
He said whereas the state does not have a monopoly over anyone’s faith, the state and government must have a clear social image and promote values that provide “the foundation for the preservation of the Hungarian future, national identity, survival and prosperity.” This, he added, cannot be achieved without the involvement of the historic churches.
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Europe today must recognise that “by giving up Christian culture and renouncing faith, everything that has characterised the continent for generations and centuries may be lost.”
Citing Robert Schumann, one of the “founding fathers” of the European Union, Gulyás said: “Democracy owes its existence to Christianity … anti-Christian democracy will be a caricature that either sinks into tyranny or anarchy.”
In the featured photo PMO Head Gergely Gulyás. Photo by Tibor Illyés/MTI