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Hungary: 'Educate us for the 21st century!' students demand

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Hungary: 'Educate us for the 21st century!' students demand

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Thousands of schoolchildren, university students and others protested outside Hungary's parliament on Friday to demand major education reforms.

Demonstrators denounce teaching methods as rigid and say they fail to prepare young people for life in the 21st century.

"A just, democratic and modern education for all students," said one leaflet prepared by the protest organisers which demanded a free choice of textbooks, a bigger student say in educational matters and a reduction in mandatory school hours.

In freezing rain, students held banners emblazoned with angry emoticons and messages such as "I can feel I am getting dumber" and "My brain is shrinking."

REUTERS/Bernadett Szabo

"We, the students have had enough of the oppression and total lack of professionalism that determine our everyday life," Krisztián Kormos, spokesman of the Independent Student Parliament body told Euronews.

"Too much pressure is just a symptom of an out-of-date education system."

His anger was echoed in the crowd, with calls for less blind memorisation of facts and more critical thinking and creativity.

Critics of Prime Minister Viktor Orban's right-wing government say it has also failed to reform another big state-run system, healthcare.

"The education system is as bad as the health service," an elderly former health worker told Euronews.

"The goverment spends money on unnecessary things instead of sectors that would move the country forward and enrich the country," she said.

Orban critics say he has curtailed freedom of speech.

The reforms he has undertaken, affecting the judiciary and media, have triggered conflicts with the EU.

Orban's Fidesz party, in power since 2010, is expected to win a third term in a row in an election set for April 8.

with Reuters