Thousands of teachers and students took to the streets in Hungary yesterday to protest against government 'reforms' to the education system. In one town in the east of the country there was a torchlit procession of 5000, with many other towns also holding protests. Teachers say that the government's changes privilege facts over 'real learning.' They are having to use textbooks mandated by the state and children are having to learn a centralised curriculum. More and more administrative tasks and new evaluations are being forced on teachers, while at the same time their professional autonomy is undermined.

As one history teacher told a reporter: "I want to talk with the children and educate them, not just teach them. Students, parents and teachers ... experience the same oppression every day. The future of our children and of Hungary is at risk." Teachers say the increased state control puts education back a hundred years.

Hungarian teachers are planning mass demonstrations again on the 13th February over this issue as well as the related problem of workload and education spending. Their union leaders say they are ready to strike if the government does not listen to their demands.