‘A nightmare has been going on for a month, and not only for the teachers. The everyday life of the school revolves around this,’ a teacher from the II. Rákóczi Ferenc Secondary School in Munkács (Mukachevo) claimed in an interview with Magyar Nemzet regarding the ‘Ukrainianization‘ atmosphere in the new school year.
The teaching staff is continuously struggling with the newly appointed Ukrainian school management, who are tasked with carrying out the ‘death sentence’ of the Hungarian institution in Transcarpathia,
at the instruction of the city leadership, which is known for its anti-Hungarian stance.
‘They are not in charge; they are simply trying to implement the orders they receive,’ Pál Popovics, an informatics teacher at the II. Rákóczi Ferenc Secondary School said about the new leaders of the Hungarian educational institution. As Hungarian Conservative reported, at the beginning of the school year, Ukrainian directors and deputy directors were appointed to head the school in Transcarpathia, while a legal case regarding the unexpected removal of the school’s previous Hungarian leader is still ongoing.
‘Essentially, they told us something we did not want to hear, that their plan is to "Ukrainianize" our school because this is Ukraine. We have to speak the state language and adhere to Ukrainian laws‘, Popovics explained the new leadership’s openly stated goal. According to the teacher, the new leadership's plans are based on the Ukrainian Education Law, which states that there can be no ethnic minority schools, every school is Ukrainian, and starting next year, at least the majority of subjects must be taught in Ukrainian.
The Ukrainian parliament passed the bill in 2017, which practically makes it impossible for national minorities to receive education in their mother tongue. According to the proposal, students in fifth grade must study 20 per cent of their subjects in Ukrainian, gradually increasing this ratio in each grade until, in the tenth grade, 80 per cent of subjects must be taught in Ukrainian. The original version of Article 7, which deals with this language transition, would have come into effect in 2023, but due to the language use debate, Kyiv approved so many changes that they postponed the transition to Ukrainian until 1 September 2024.
However, Popovics added that the Ukrainian school management interprets this as a mandate to start the transition this year, since they plan to teach entirely in Ukrainian from September next year.
‘We started the school year on 1 September with a timetable suitable for everyone, and a week later, they announced that it was not good enough, so they created a new one, "accidentally" leaving out all Hungarian history classes’, the teacher described. According to his account, after explaining that teachers could not teach this timetable, the leaders were forced to back down. But then the leaders came up with yet another timetable that was still not acceptable—this dispute has been ongoing for four weeks now.
‘The clashes are ongoing, there is no harmony, they were sent here to carry out the school’s death sentence’, Pál Popovics said.
‘It’s been a month of nightmare, not only for the teachers. The everyday life of the school revolves around this; this is what the faculty talks about during breaks, and the parents and students also feel it,’ he responded when asked how the changes affect their daily lives. He also talked about how, in terms of the materials taught, everything has remained the same for now because there are no legal means to introduce changes this school year. There are still some checks and balances in the system, he added, which the school’s teaching staff can apply. For example, changing the annual plan requires the approval of the faculty, and other issues require the signature of the trade union.
Popovics also mentioned that
the new leadership knows that their fate depends on whether there will be any changes in the Munkács (Mukachevo) City Hall.
The leadership of the Transcarpathian municipality is known for its anti-Hungarian actions. In January of this year, with the involvement of the police, Hungarian flags and Hungarian inscriptions were removed from Hungarian institutions in the Munkács region, which is mostly populated by ethnic Hungarians.
Source: Hungarian Conservative/Magyar Nemzet