Hungary: too much state interference in education?
Several hundred people gathered in Budapest on Saturday to protest changes to Hungary's education laws. Among other measures the controversial amendments put the decision about whether a child is ready for school in the hands of the authorities and place more restrictions on non-state schools' curriculums. Commentators discuss whether the protests are justified.
Parents have no say anymore
The left-leaning daily Népszava criticises the way the government is trying to increase its influence through the new Education Act:
“From the start of the new school year it will be the government rather than the parents and educators that decides when a child is ready for kindergarten or school. The government decides who can be a private student. The government decides who can be the headteacher. The teaching staff and the parents no longer even have the right to carry out an assessment. The government decides which school may use education methods different than those of the state. The government decides which publisher may develop and publish textbooks.”
No reason to panic
The pro-government daily Magyar Hírlap finds the protests exaggerated:
“The Hungarian Association of Waldorf Schools, perhaps the most important representative of the alternative schools, the fate of which the demonstrators are so concerned about, informed its pupils' parents weeks ago that the law won't put the schools at a disadvantage. ... It won't be some faceless bureaucratic organisation but a group of experts that makes the decision about whether a child is ready for school. And of course the parents and kindergarten teaching staff will also be involved in the decision-making process, as they were before.”