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Can “Waldorf” survive in Hungary?

Hungary: The freedom-loving Hungarians, who were always able to maintain a relatively liberal attitude even in socialist times, have voted for a right-wing nationalist government in 2010. The effects of this change can now be felt throughout society and particularly also in the education sector. A new school law was adopted in 2011, including a binding national curriculum, a separation of the lower and middle level, funding according to the degrees of teachers (and not according to a student/capita rate), a mandatory evaluation requirement for teachers and schools, and a special training requirement for directors.

This is the situation the Hungarian Waldorf school movement and its 26 Waldorf schools are currently facing. Waldorf education will only have a chance of survival if the Association of Waldorf Schools (Magyar Waldorf Szövetség) manages to obtain at least a little freedom for Waldorf schools in the ongoing political negotiations. Obtaining such freedom is, however, mostly a financial challenge that cannot be mastered by the Hungarian Waldorf representatives alone. In recent years cuts in public budgets have led to a situation in which Waldorf schools can cover only 50% of their salaries and operating costs through government subsidies. As a result many Waldorf schools face enormous financial difficulties.

The Hungarian Association for Waldorf Education was founded in 1997. Since then it represents the interests of the Waldorf initiatives towards the Hungarian Ministry of Education and in particular engages in subsidy negotiations. In addition to the tasks at the political level, the association is also responsible for curriculum development (completed in 2006), for advice on school start-ups or pedagogical issues concerning teacher training, for quality development and evaluation, and public relations. Despite being close to the action within the individual facilities, the employees of the Association do not impede the autonomy of schools, kindergartens and social initiatives.

Due to the current economic reality many parents have lost their jobs and are unable to pay school fees. As a result the schools cannot adequately fund their association. In order to continue to exist it is vital that two institutions survive. One is the officially recognized Waldorf teacher-training institute, which needs to be maintained and expanded to be able to continue to award teacher diplomas and perform evaluations. The other is the Association of Waldorf Schools, which is needed to maintain government relationships, develop the curriculum, ensure continuity and create their own evaluation process for school directors (it is unavoidable to have directors). Only then can Waldorf education in Hungary make the best out of a miserable situation.

Hungary was formerly called the “funniest shack in the socialist camp”. Today Hungary is a sad shed of the capitalist camp. What we need is European solidarity. We can help our Hungarian colleagues and do everything in our power to ensure that in the future Waldorf education will continue to exist in Hungary.

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Magyar Waldorf Szövetség
Asbóth u. 17
1075 Budapest

Ph +36 1 4610 090

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