The payment crisis of teachers in Hungary has been escalating over the last couple of years and now, the world-wide economic decline further exacerbates the issue. While inflation is constantly intensifying, the income of lecturers stagnates on a low level.
The factual evidence shows the extremes of the situation: As demonstrated by the news outlet, Átlátszó, the European average gross payment for university teachers per month is around 5400 euros, meanwhile the paycheck for the same title in Hungary is a total of 1538 euros.
The more expensive reality of the Western world is undeniable; however, if we look at the difference in the price of a basic food item, such as bread, it can be seen that the deviation is way smaller than the difference of wages. To demonstrate, wages are almost four times more in the Netherlands than in Hungary, while the price of a loaf of fresh white bread is only 2.3 times more costly.
The Hungarian government repeatedly fails to address the underpayment of educators creating a real problem in the educational system itself. The natural reaction of general dissatisfaction and protest arrived in the country. With renewed energy, another wave of protests against the low salaries started in 2022.
The events of the last six months achieved little in the awaited field. On one hand the fiercely fighting teachers received huge support from the country, especially from students. Regardless, the “newly formed” regime, after the election in April 2022, systematically regulated their right to protest and planted other obstacles, therefore eliminating all ways to reach a successful agreement.
The tension rooted in this issue results in numerous worrying cases. Firstly, the quality of education is in decline since the lack of motivation leads many professors to the conclusion of abandoning the field or moving abroad. The lack of salary results in the lack of quality, and even more so, in the lack of labour force. The minimal benefits that come with this occupation in Hungary repels even the most passionate young professionals. The shortage of teachers forces institutions to hire a less qualified workforce to simply stay open.
Concerns have been raised given the amount of stress that is materialising in Hungary as well. Besides the low living standard, high obesity rates and below average degree of happiness, Hungary ranks third in the frequency of cancer cases around the globe. The career of teachers was linked to the immense stress they are subjected to every day. One step further, stress is held as a major cause of cancer. Consequently, a large part of cancer cases can be traced back to the experiences in their jobs as educators in an unjust system.
Edited by: Tom Culf
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