Hungary’s family policy aims to slow the country’s population decline by encouraging young couples to have children and to support those couples who have entered parenthood, Katalin Novák, the minister for family affairs, said at the second Hungarian-Polish Forum. Addressing a panel discussion, the minister said the biggest challenge facing Europe concerned demography. The matter of raising children has its own challenges during the novel coronavirus pandemic, Novák said, arguing that grandparents, for instance, were not able to be as active in looking after children as they normally would. The Hungarian government moved to extend the period of eligibility for childcare benefits as early as the first wave of the pandemic, she said.
Concerning education, she said the government was trying to continue on with in-person classes for younger students for the time being, arguing that it was better for children’s intellectual and physical development. Though the switch to online classes worked out well in the spring, only universities and secondary schools above the eighth grade will return to that arrangement for now, Novák said. She noted that the government was not cutting back on, but rather expanding its family benefits during the economic slowdown caused by the pandemic.