The latest demonstration on Thursday in support of Hungary’s teachers and its educational system featured a 13-kilometer-long “human chain” in Budapest made up of thousands of students, teachers, and parents, reports Népszava.
A protesting kindergarten teacher named Erzsébet told the news outlet that something had to be done now, as the government’s intention to downsize education was “palpable.” Already there aren’t enough kindergarten teachers because of the “humiliating salary,” she said.
Week by week, more and more people appear to be joining the protests, writes Népszava. Demonstrators are protesting the low wages for and overwork required of teaching staff, in addition to threats they face for protesting.
Thursday’s human chain demonstration, organized by the United Student Front and student organization Grund, completely encircled Budapest. It stretched from Petőfi Bridge to Margit Bridge along the Grand Boulevard, then continued to the Déli Train Station until it reached Villányi Road in Buda and joined up with the other end.
The live chain mostly consisted of high school students and teachers, but there were university students, kindergarten and elementary school staff, parents, and other sympathizers demonstrating alongside the main roads as well.
The demonstration also had its supporters, with numerous motorists showing their support for the effort by honking their horns, waving, and making a “V” sign with their fingers, while others waved checkered scarves or shirts (a symbol of teacher support) out of their car windows.
Most of the protesters interviewed by Népszava were optimistic, as they could see an increasing number of people joining the demonstrations, and that their strength was having an effect on ruling party Fidesz. Some considered it an achievement that the government no longer dares to fire teachers, but just threaten them.
Others, on the other hand, felt that an even greater show of strength was needed. Márta and Kolos, who are raising two children, pointed out that the protests are currently taking place only in the larger cities, while those in smaller towns are too fearful to do so.
“Now the question is: can we hold out until mass dissatisfaction also seeps into the rural areas, or will we again get tired before then?” the couple told the Hungarian daily. [Népszava]