Hungary

If the government can’t help, it should at least try not to harm children in need

I’ve never understood why political parties, governments, and parliaments propose laws whose only effect is to make life worse for its citizens. On May 30, the Hungarian Parliament passed a law which will make the lives of children with learning disabilities more difficult.

“The first section of the proposal prevents children with learning disabilities, such as mild forms of dyscalculia or dyslexia, from receiving exemption from examination in certain subjects. Another section of the amendment allows unqualified teachers to work with children with moderate learning difficulties in cases in which there are not enough specialist staff available to help them. This role was previously reserved only for special needs teachers,” writes Népszava, a Hungarian daily newspaper.

Many teachers considered my learning difficulty a flaw, believing I would grow out of it.

Truth is, I am dysgraphic too—as regular readers of Kettős Mérce have probably noticed from the countless grammatical mistakes and typos in my articles—, a condition which has caused difficulties throughout my life. This condition was not an obstacle while I was in elementary school, a school which worked hard to motivate and educate students and which understood my situation.

In high school, however, many teachers considered my learning difficulty a flaw, believing I would grow out of it, or work harder if I received bad grades. I achieved good grades in every subject in elementary school, but in the first year of high school the constant negative feedback and the bad grades made me hate learning so much that I failed three classes. I couldn’t understand why I had lost 10 points to grammar, in a history test out of 50, when it was clear that I knew the subject well.

With the new amendment to the law, a student’s motivation to learn is what’s really at stake. Do we really want to ruin the experience of studying for talented, but dysgraphic, dyslexic, or dyscalculic children? Do we want their experience of the education system to be easy or difficult? I can’t understand why legislators believe these children need punishment rather than support..

This attitude underlies the section of this amendment on the provision of support to children in need too. No matter how devoted an unqualified teacher may be to educating children with learning difficulties, without specialist qualifications they lack the knowledge of up-to-date, or even recent educational support methods, and may cause more harm than good.

Parliament would have done better to have proposed greater funding for the education of these children instead.

The Hungarian education system shows no hint of progressive educational policies

The talents of children with learning difficulties can be nurtured over time; children with less severe learning difficulties may struggle to achieve the goals of their peers, but they can become valuable, beneficial members of society, and, more importantly, with care and attention they canlive a full life. The extent to which they achieve their full potential is largely determined by their experience of school.

I don’t understand why legislators don’t see this potential, and why they would not do everything in their power to make education for our children easier, allowing them to finish school with greater knowledge and skill; abilities which would ultimately be beneficial for society as a whole.

The Hungarian education system shows no hint of progressive educational policies or any move towards building an environment in which the potential of children with learning difficulties could be nurtured and developed—which is a frightening prospect. A positive outlook on the potential of children with learning difficulties could ensure that the money invested in education is turned to social profit.

Every Hungarian forint spent on the education of children could triple when they mature if spent wisely.

This proposal doesn’t benefit anyone, it makes no sense. I just don’t get it. I can find no explanation for it beyond the idea that these children are socially useless. This is an outdated notion which has been proven to be absolutely unfounded. I really hope this idea is not the foundation of such amendments as this would mean that the whole country, and not just our youth, which is heading toward a precipice.

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The article was first published in Kettős Mérce.

Bio

András Jámbor

He is an activist and organizer of several demonstrations. He is the founder and editor-in-chief of Kettős Mérce, an independent blog of young journalists and authors and an online platform of young activists | www.kettosmerce.blog.hu