We must not return to the education system in place before 2010
05. 02. 2016.
In an interview with public broadcaster Kossuth Rádió on Friday morning, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said that Hungary must not return to the education system in place before 2010, adding that in his opinion the current government has chosen the right direction in this field.

Talking about the disputes surrounding the issue of education, the Prime Minister said that in 2010 the Government had taken over a financially ruined education system, in which children had performed increasingly badly. With regard to responsibilities in the matter, he said that he would not presume to say whether the work of teachers had deteriorated, children were being born less intelligent, or parents were less committed to their duties. He emphasised that the most important point is that “we must not return to our starting point. […] We definitely had to make changes, and I believe we have chosen the right direction”. He also stressed that in the course of the debate children must be the focal point.

Mr. Orbán explained that

the Cabinet supports the principle of open governance: it wants to hear everyone’s opinions

and it has great hopes for the National Teachers’ Chamber, which was established in order to discuss internal specialist matters in an apolitical manner. He added that he understands teachers’ concerns, and these will be discussed: there is continuous dialogue, the Round Table for Education is fulfilling its purpose, and it will continue to do so in the future.

The Prime Minister also said that, when implementing career models and wage increases in various sectors, teachers were placed at the top of the list, in line with the public consensus. Talking about increased funding allocated to the sector, Mr. Orbán said that on the development side education has received HUF 450 billion, while on the wages side the increased sums amounted to HUF 230 billion.

Discussing the vocational training system, he said that “the main point is not what type of certificates children obtain, but that they are equipped with usable knowledge”. He added that in his opinion developments in the field of vocational training point in this direction.

The Left does not consider the threat of terrorism to be real

The Prime Minister also talked about the planned amendment to the Constitution, allowing for the threat of terrorism to appear as a separate scenario in the Fundamental Law.

In his view Europe can anticipate further terrorist attacks, and therefore the tools needed to prevent acts of terrorism should be available to more and more governments in Europe. He added that Hungary is not one of the countries particularly endangered by terrorism, the reason for this being that “we did not allow migrants to enter” the country. “Hungary has successfully protected itself in this respect, but this does not mean that the threat may not arise in the future”, he explained.

Photo: Szilárd Koszticsák/MTI
Photo: Szilárd Koszticsák/MTI

In response to a question he said that the scenarios currently stipulated in the Constitution do not provide sufficient scope for action. At the same time he emphasised that one must proceed carefully, because rights to freedom are important and must not be restricted more than is necessary. But “people’s safety must be a priority; they must be protected”, he stressed.

Commenting on the Left’s rejection of the proposal, he said that they do not consider the threat of terrorism to be real, just as they had said that migration is not a real problem.

“If Hungary had a government of the Left, in this country we would see situations like those in Cologne, Paris or Brussels”,

he said.

The free movement of workers across the continent is one of the most important elements of European freedom

Discussing Britain’s proposed EU reforms, Mr. Orbán emphasised that one of the most important elements of European freedom is the free movement of workers across the continent. He said that “we must open the doors to those who believe themselves to be capable of assuming the risks and difficulties of making a living abroad”.

Therefore the Hungarian position is that no one – not even Great Britain – should be allowed to restrict the number of people working in their country. He added, however, that distinctions could be made between British people and other EU citizens working there. The issue in question is the extent of such distinctions, which must not discriminate in favour of British citizens and against other EU citizens.

He explained that on this issue the United Kingdom and other EU Member States are now closer to each other than before, and the Visegrád countries are also making progress on bringing their positions closer to each other.

At the same time, the Prime Minister noted that Britain also wants to make other changes within the EU. They would like to see comprehensive EU reform, which is something Mr. Orbán welcomes, because Britain’s position on the current functioning of the European community is in line with Hungary’s interests. As an example he mentioned that he agrees with the proposal aiming to strengthen the role of national parliaments in EU decision-making processes.

Talking about his visit to Indonesia at the beginning of the week, Mr. Orbán said that his talks there reassured him that today Hungary has four to five thousand small and medium-sized enterprises – in contrast to two to three thousand in 2010 – which are able to compete in any given part of the world. This is also a precondition for increasing the standard of living in Hungary, he added, and therefore the aim is to have twelve thousand such companies in the country.