The government will double and will raise to almost HUF 3 billion the allocation for next year of the social package which serves to support the Hungarian community in Transcarpathia, Minister of State for Nation Policy Árpád János Potápi announced at his press conference held on Friday in Budapest.

Mr Potápi said in answer to a question of the Hungarian news agency MTI that with this package they are able to help 23,000 to 24,000 people annually in the fields of education, health care, the media, social services and culture.

In education they hope to achieve the stabilisation of the number of people working in the field: they seek to stop a further fall in the number of education workers. In consequence of the decision, the amount of the annual grant provided for Hungarian teachers will increase from HUF 270,000 to HUF 500,000, the Minister of State for Nation Policy said. He added that the persons concerned will receive this grant in one sum.

At present, the net monthly salary of a teacher in Ukraine amounts to HUF 30,000 to HUF 40,000, and so this is of enormous help for them. He also highlighted that in the past few years there has been a significant shortage of teachers: 100 to 120 teachers were missing from Transcarpathian schools, which they have managed to reduce to 39 this year.

The Minister of State said the Hungarian government decided on the introduction of the social programme package for Transcarpathia in 2015.

The main reason was the economic and social crisis that erupted in Ukraine at the beginning of 2014 which has an extremely negative impact on the Hungarian community in Transcarpathia. Their situation is becoming increasingly difficult, he pointed out.

In the present tense diplomatic and uncertain Ukrainian economic situation, the need emerged for raising the grants provided so far in the interest of promoting the survival in the homeland, advancement and social security of the Hungarian community in Transcarpathia, the Minister of State stressed.

He said as part of the social programme package since 2015 they have provided a pay supplement in a tender system for teachers, nursery school teachers and assistants who perform educational responsibilities in the Hungarian language, for teachers working in art and music schools who provide instruction for their students in Hungarian as well as for health care workers who provide care services in Hungarian. They support journalists and other media workers active in the Hungarian-language printed or electronic media, educational organisers and librarians carrying out their professional activities in Hungarian, and actors and performing artists performing in Hungarian as well as other persons assisting their work, Mr Potápi indicated.

Within the framework of the programme, they provide grants for the meals of Hungarian nursery and elementary school pupils, and since 2015 they have also assisted church leaders and religious education teachers who serve in Hungarian or diaspora congregations in the Hungarian language.

The funding provided has been raised year after year: in 2015 it amounted to HUF 791 million, in 2016 it was raised to HUF 931 million, in 2017 to HUF 1.2 billion and this year to HUF 1.37 billion. The applications for the latter grants are being processed also at present. Next year’s budget featured an allocation of HUF 1.4 billion which will be raised to HUF 3 billion.

Mr Potápi said also with this measure the government wishes to support the Hungarian community which is, at this point in time, in the most difficult situation in the entire Carpathian Basin and also among all Hungarian communities around the world.