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Administration, Finance, & Educational Research

Government Educational Agencies: There are essentially two levels of educational responsibility in Hungary. At the local level, elected administrative bodies (village and city councils) are responsible for school provision, maintenance, and teaching materials, including teachers. At the state level the Ministry of Education sets the curriculum for all primary and secondary public schools while institutions of higher education set their own curriculum with approval from the Higher Education and Scientific Council. Control over education policy is exercised by the state through the HESC by means of allocating finances, certification, and licensing of educational bodies.

At the local level schools are funded through a portion of tax revenue that is provided to schools by the local municipality and supplemented by state funds.

In Hungary, local teachers elect school principals. However, the election is a formality since the local government appoints school leaders in the end. School boards exist but without power or decision-making authority—policy and appointments are thus made by the local mayors and councils. Thus a school principal may not be a professional educator but rather a political appointee.

Ministry of the Department of Education: Daily responsibility for state education resides in the Ministry of Education based in Budapest. There were 700 public servants working in the Ministry of Education in 2001—613 ministry employees, 5 for the secretariat of UNESCO, and 82 working for the National Public Education and Examination Board.

Educational Budgets: State budgeting is still the primary source of funds for education in Hungary. Hungary's Gross National Product was $46.6 billion in 1998, and while only 1992 data on contribution to education is available (in 1992 education contributed 7.5 percent to the GDP), it is estimated that the percentage has remained approximately the same.

In 1996, some 308 billion forints (US$1,029 million) of government expenditures were spent on education. By 2001 spending on education represented 4.6 percent of the gross national product and had fallen since 1996 when it was just over 6 percent. Of the monies spent on education, 0.74 percent of the GNP went to kindergarten education, 2.38 percent to primary, 1.47 percent to secondary, 0.81 percent to higher education, and 0.28 percent to other forms of education. Education spending represented 9.56 percent of all government expenditures in 1990, and it fell at an average annual rate of 5.2 percent between 1990 and 1996. In 1996 education represented 8.66 percent of all state expenditures. Inflation over the years has also eroded significantly the purchasing power of these expenditures and notwithstanding the commitment to funding education, it is apparent that education spending is falling.

Types of Expenditures: Preprimary and primary education consumed 36.8 percent, secondary education consumed 46.3 percent and tertiary education consumed 15.5 percent of the national education budget in 1996. However expenditures per pupil as a percentage of GNP indicate only 18 percent was spent on primary and preprimary education (down from 23 percent in 1990), 49 percent was spent on the secondary sector, and 33 percent on tertiary education. Teacher and professional salaries take up approximately 70 percent of the total education budget.

National Education Organizations: There are a large number of committees and advisory bodies that advise the Minister of Education. The presence of advisory bodies such as HÖOK, the Association of Hungarian Students, the House of Professors, the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, and the Hungarian Rectors Conference are important independent bodies guiding Hungarian educational policy. Moreover the two major committees that guide policy and programming, the Hungarian Accreditation Committee and the Higher Education and Scientific Council, have representatives from all interest groups. For example, the HAC has a board of 30 members chosen from higher education, research institutes, and professional organizations. There are also non-voting members on the HAC from unrepresented groups and also a nonvoting student representative. The HESC has 21 members on its board of which 10 are academics, 10 are from user organizations (employers, municipalities, academic bodies, and unions), and 1 is from the Ministry of Education.

Educational Research: There are two bodies conducting educational research in Hungary; the Hungarian Institute for Educational Research (Oktataskutato Intezet), which deals with sociological and other social science issues associated with education. They also publish a periodical called "Education." This institute provides for a doctorate in education through the University of Debrecen. The second body, the National Institute of Public Education (Orszagos Kozoktatasi Intezet), carries out research at all levels of education and across the spectrum of educational issues usually by means of surveys on education topics. Both institutes are part of the Ministry of Education but they also receive external funding from private sources both Hungarian and international.

Project specific research is also undertaken by the HAC and the HESC. As part of their mandates to provide educational policy and program development, they may see the need to research a particular issue. To that end they frequently utilize experts and professional committees to undertake research as preparatory work for the decisions of the bodies.

Additional topics

Education Encyclopedia - StateUniversity.comGlobal Education ReferenceHungary - History Background, Constitutional Legal Foundations, Educational System—overview, Preprimary Primary Education, Secondary Education