As the teacher shortage in Poland deepens, so does the fear among many educators and parents that the educational system is being used to indoctrinate young people into the conservative and nationalistic mindset of the ruling party.
That’s how things are in Hungary, too. Hungarian educators protested low pay and excessive hours on the opening day of school this week by wearing all black and carrying black umbrellas. When they enter the classroom, new teachers in PSZ are given “humiliating pay,” defined as “a monthly income of just 500 euros after taxes,” prompting many individuals to leave their employment.
On Friday, hundreds of people rallied in Budapest in support of teachers and to protest what they saw as the authoritarian direction Hungary’s government is taking in light of the low pay they get. Given the present attempts to integrate refugees from Ukraine, a shortage of instructors in the United States and Canada could not compare. The issue is especially challenging for Poland because of the tens of thousands of school-aged refugees from Ukraine. About 200,000 Ukrainian students, most of whom do not know Polish, have registered at Polish schools since the beginning of the crisis on February 24. The crisis in Ukraine might result in a tripling of the country’s student population, according to the country’s minister of education.
Finding suitable teachers has been difficult, particularly in the areas of physics, chemistry, and computer science, and even in Polish. The purchasing power of teachers, nurses, and other public sector workers in central Europe has decreased significantly since their incomes have not kept pace with the private sector. As a growing proportion of teachers approach retirement and fewer young people choose to work in the low-paying field, the issue is only expected to worsen. This is particularly relevant in light of recent inflation figures showing double-digit rates in Poland (16%) and Hungary (14%). The Polish Instructors’ Union estimates that there are a total of 20,000 unfilled teaching positions in Poland. Despite the small size of the Hungarian population, the nation has a teacher shortage of 16,000. Przemyslaw Czarnek, Poland’s minister of education, disputes these figures, claiming that the actual number of unfilled teaching posts is closer to 13,000. He argued that the number is not excessive when compared to the 700,000 teachers now working in Poland. He claims the union and its political opponents are exaggerating the problem. Many scholars see Czarnek as a fundamentalist Catholic, and so are strongly opposed to the nationalist government’s conservative ideology and to Czarnek himself. His selection in 2020 sparked protests since he had previously remarked that LGBTQ individuals aren’t equal to “normal people” and that a woman’s main role is to produce children.
In Hungary, there has been a “mass flight” of instructors, according to Erzsebet Nagy, a member of the Democratic Union of Hungarian Instructors’ coordinating committee.” Hungarian unions have raised concerns about the centralization of the country’s educational system. The nationalist government of Hungary formed a centralized body in 2012 to decide on curricula, textbooks, and other issues.
Because of their worries for their children’s futures, more and more parents are deciding to pull their kids out of public schools. Even though there are more private schools than ever before, they cannot accept a sufficient number of pupils.