With the Start of a New School Year, Hungary Looks to Improve Its Educational System
Today, more than one million students started the new school year following the official opening ceremony at Árpád-házi Szent Erzsébet Gimnázium in Esztergom.
Miklós Kásler, Minister of Human resources, opened the academic year in Esztergom. Kásler declared that the new national curriculum’s goal is to help Hungary rise again.
He stated that the government will continue to improve material conditions and will dedicate an additional 190 billion HUF to education this year. He also drew attention to the fact that the content of the curriculum is determined by teachers.
The Minister pointed out that the country’s success is not in the government’s hands: Our growing families, dedicated educators, and hopeful youth will help Hungary to fulfill its traditional role in the Carpathian Basin and contribute to developing a peaceful coexistence among the nations in the region. He also urged students to learn how to think critically and not merely memorize their lessons.
In a speech at the school’s opening, Péter Erdő, Archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest, asserted that state and church financed schools have not been opponents or competitors in the past, but have complimented each other instead.
Around 2000 teachers are missing from the education system
The opposition, namely Socialists, accuse Fidesz of causing a crisis in education, which they say will worsen with the new school year. In a press conference, Socialist board chairwoman Ágnes Kunhalmi stated that teachers and children are feeling overburdened, resulting in a shortage of around 2,000 teachers for this school year. Many teachers have left the profession and emigrated, she added.
Tens of thousands of children are dropping out of school without completing their primary education, and Hungarian students continue to perform poorly on PISA tests, Kunhalmi said. Socialists recommend reducing the number of classes and amending the national curriculum, making classes smaller and modernizing education by focusing on improving competency.
According to an earlier study, the teacher shortage is even worse than what the Socialists suggested today. The Democratic Union of Teachers estimates a shortage of around 4000/5000 educators. 24.hu has collected government issued ads looking for teachers from 696 towns. These are full-time positions, which means the actual numbers could be higher. Tamás Szűcs, the leader of the union, told the newspaper the education system will face bigger workforce problems in the near future because the average age of the working teacher is 50 years. As a result, many will soon retire from the profession.
Democratic Coalition: 750,000 children living below the poverty line in Hungary today
The opposition calls on the government to draft a comprehensive strategy to improve the situation of families with children living below the subsistence level, an MEP of the leftist party said. There are 750,000 children living below the poverty line in Hungary, Péter Niedermüller told a press conference, citing a recent study conducted by the research institute Policy Agenda.