The IPA’s Educational Publishers Forum held a meeting in Szeged, Hungary, on 28 June, and took the opportunity to tackle concerns about Freedom to Publish in education.
The EPF discussed issues around digital transformation in the field of education. Horrifying anecdotes were shared of wasted money and resources when governments choose to push populist ‘techie’ agendas rather than looking dispassionately at what works best for teachers and students in the classroom. There were also shining examples of good sense in the provision of quality resources that are innovative and fit-for-purpose. The EPF will look to identify evidence of transformation models that that can be seen to work and bring positive results, and models that are best avoided. Stay tuned for the results of that research.
The EPF also tackled the grave concerns about the narrowing of choice in Hungarian education since the nationalization of the educational publishing sector in 2014-15. The government is tightening its grip on textbook production and distribution, despite widespread criticism of the quality of the content provided by the state publishers. Mistakes abound in many of the books and the lack of choice means that teachers in the state system are forced to adhere to a curriculum that has been described as ideologically biased and regressive. There have been protests by teachers’ organisations as well as parents’ groups.
The EPF strongly believes that teachers’ choice should be at the core of any healthy pedagogy. Teachers should be allowed to choose the textbooks that fit best with their students. Educational publishers should be allowed to compete with each other to supply teachers with a variety of resources, both in hard copy and digital formats, as well as hybrid. In this way, local stories and content, written by local authors, can best capture the imagination of students. A viable educational ecosystem requires collaboration between all players — government, teachers, authors, researchers and publishers — for the benefit of students and the future wellbeing of the country. Sadly, this is currently not the case in Hungary.
Read our interview with Mozaik’s Dr. Ildiko Török about educational publishing in Hungary here.
Learn more about the Educational Publishers Forum here.