HUNGARY: Hungary passes contentious education law despite protest from teachers unions

Extract from article by Justin Spike, published on ABC News on 04/07/2023 – accessible here.

Lawmakers in Hungary passed a controversial bill on Tuesday affecting the country’s teachers, cementing a new regime in public education that has elicited months of protests and strikes by teachers and their students.

The law, approved by the governing Fidesz party in a 136-58 vote along party lines, revokes teachers’ status as public employees, increases allowable weekly working hours and allows for educators to be transferred to other schools that are experiencing teacher shortages.

Students, teachers unions and sympathizers staged an all-day protest Tuesday in front of Hungary’s parliament building in Budapest as lawmakers assembled inside. It was the latest in a series of demonstrations that, on one occasion, saw student protesters dispersed with tear gas and rubber batons.

Teachers unions have said thousands of educators will leave the profession when the law is passed, and that the bill was authored without adequate consultation with the unions.

Teachers have called the bill a “revenge law,” which they say was enacted as retaliation for their more than a year of strikes, demonstrations and acts of civil disobedience for higher pay and better working conditions.