Protesting against the recently proposed bill on minority education, ethnic Hungarian parents in Komárno, Moldova and Galanta districts decided not to let their kids go to school on June 12.
"We want our children to learn the Slovak language properly, but we want them to remain Hungarian," said Ladislav Ďurkovský, one of the leaders of the Association of Hungarian Parents in Slovakia. "The state wants them to lose their national identity."
"We want to give these kids proper education," reacted Víťazoslav Moric, a leading member of the right-wing Slovak National Party (SNS). "[But] honestly speaking, I do not care about the Hungarian children the least bit. I care about this state. This state, in order to be well off, needs educated citizens. So, in fact, we and the Hungarian parents do have a common ground."
But the parents in question fear that the bill will actually hold their kids back at school. "It would be too abrubt for my daughter to start taking history and geography lessons in a language she doesn't speak properly," a mother of a ten year old girl said under the condition of anonymity. "I want her to speak good Slovak: she will live in Slovakia, she will want to make her living here, so it is necessary. The ministry should instead come up with a better way to teach these kids Slovak," she added.
Last February, two school directors in Komárno district were fired because they failed to announce to their superiors at the state administration office that Hungarian parents were refusing to accept their children's school reports in Slovak.
Despite tenacious efforts on the part of the parents to get the directors reinstated, state officials remained firm. "We acted in accordance with the law," said Ernest Macho, head of the Komárno state administration branch. "We can't put the directors back, because it would be a dangerous precedent following which no one could ever be fired again."
SNS Parliamentary deputies fully backed up Macho's position. "You would not obey terrorists' demands either," said Rastislav Šepták, an SNS deputy.
18. Jun 1998 at 0:00 | Jana Dorotková