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Despite ongoing protests, Hungarian parliament passes new education law

Parliament voted by 134 votes in favour, 60 against and no abstentions on the parts of the bill requiring a qualified majority, and by 136 votes in favour, 58 against and no abstentions on the parts requiring a simple majority, so the new “career-path” law will enter into force on 1 January 2024.

Teachers will be transferred from the public servant status to public education employee status, while a new number of weekly classes and a performance-based system of salaries will be introduced. Employers must inform teachers about the changes by 15 September, and teachers will have until 29 September to decide whether to accept it. The law will come into force next year.

In the future, the education district centre will have the right to transfer teachers to a different location within the district if the commute by public transport does not exceed three hours. Monthly salaries for teachers will be set in four bands depending on grading, with the lowest band ranging from HUF 410,000 (EUR 1,100) to 1,065,000 and the highest from HUF 640,000 (EUR 1,709) to 1,470,000 (3,925).

The interior ministry said that the new law would boost the average teacher wage to HUF 800,000 by 2025, while their maximum classroom time would change from 22-26 to a fixed 24 hours a week. Paid holidays will increase from 46 days to 50 days, or 10 weeks, and their administrative burdens will be reduced, it added.

“These are the facts, despite the fake news generated by the left wing, their actions and protests ending in violence during the preparation and approval of the law,” the ministry said. “The preparation, submission and approval of the law was preceded by comprehensive social and professional coordination,” it added.

The significant salary increase for teachers can continue once Brussels transfers the resources allocated to Hungary, the ministry said. “The left-wing politicians actions connected to the law have been hypocritical: demanding a wage increase for teachers at home while they work for monthly HUF 5-6 million in Brussels in order to prevent teachers from making HUF 800,000,” it added.

Months of protests against the new law

Professional and advocacy organisations have been protesting against the introduction of the law for months, Telex reports. After the draft was published, students, teachers and parents joined several protests to call for its withdrawal. The draft law was originally dubbed the “revenge law” because critics say the government is out for revenge by removing the status of public servants from teachers, making strikes impossible and banning freedom of expression.

Teachers will be informed before the entry into force that their status as a public servant will be terminated and will have to declare whether they wish to transfer to the status of public education employee. So far, nearly 5,000 have indicated that they will resign if the status law is introduced. Those who do not sign the new status will no longer be allowed to work as teachers.

According to the trade unions, the status law does not include their original strike demands: for example, an immediate, large pay rise and a reduction in the workload. They also criticised the lack of meaningful, professional consultation before the law was passed. For example, Olivér Pilz, a member of the Tanítanék Movement, said at a discussion on the problems of public education: “The new status law only exacerbates the workload of teachers, covering up the shortage of teachers by substitutions. This law will drive teachers to their death, they are in a very bad psychological state”.

“What is needed is not a new status law, including a reduction in the autonomy of education workers, but education reforms based on broad social consultation,” the Democratic Trade Union of Teachers (Pedagógusok Demokratikus Szakszervezete, PDSZ) said in a statement earlier.


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