At least 35,000 Hungarian students, teachers, and parents filled the main plaza in front of parliament in support of teachers who are fighting for greater salaries and teachers who were fired for protesting. The demonstration began on a bridge in Budapest and proceeded to the square.
The mass developed into the country’s largest anti-government rally since Prime Minister Viktor Orban was reelected in April of last year. They carried banners that said things like “Do not sack our teachers” and “No teachers, no future.”
Demonstrators yelled out calls for civil disobedience and argued that raising their pay would be an effective answer to the growing scarcity of teachers in the country. The “I want to teach” movement will continue to exercise its right to go on strike.
Students in Budapest began the demonstration on Wednesday by forming a chain that stretched across the city for a number of kilometers in the morning.
The event was timed on purpose to coincide with World Teachers’ Day, which takes place on October 5 each year and honors educators all throughout the world. Nevertheless, educators in Hungary claim that they have been prevented from speaking out, despite the fact that the United Nations has established criteria on teaching quality and the environment for students to study.
At a secondary school in Budapest, many educators were fired the previous week for taking part in the demonstration.
Orban, who was re-elected for a fourth consecutive term on April 3, faces an increasing challenge as the economy is going into a recession next year with inflation in the double digits and the country’s currency, the forint, plumbing repeated record lows versus the euro. On April 3, Orban was re-elected for a fourth consecutive term.
The government has said that it would increase the salaries of teachers if the European Commission delivers European Union recovery money to Hungary. These payments have been delayed because of a disagreement about the rule of law. The strike that was called for by the teachers’ union is scheduled to take place on October 14.