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Hungary - Teaching Profession

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


Training & Qualifications: Seven universities and colleges offer teacher training either as distinct faculties of teacher training or integrated into schools of natural, humanities, or social science. Those teachers who are trained in colleges graduate after four years and are qualified to teach in kindergartens and primary schools. Those trained in universities train for five years and are then qualified to teach in secondary schools. In 1999 some 21 percent of the total tertiary student population in teacher training colleges were education majors. This was down from 35 percent in 1994 probably reflecting the poor salaries to be expected upon graduation. In 1999 to 2000, there were 44,500 students studying in teacher training institutes, and if one assumes one-sixth of these graduated, there would be 6,500 new teachers in 2000. Eighty percent of all new graduates were women. In view of the low birth rates it might be expected that the demand for teachers in the twenty-first century will be reduced but this must be balanced with a teaching force that has a high median age. Moreover the loss of teachers, particularly in rural areas as a result of urbanization, will be cause for concern. This process will be exacerbated by the fact that urban schools have a higher prestige attached to teaching in them so they are preferred by teachers. It is also known that while 37 percent of the Hungarian population is considered rural, only 8 percent of students leaving secondary schools are from rural areas. As a result the challenge is to persuade urban teachers to move to rural areas—a policy that is in conflict with the urban migration trend of the rural population. Finally, upon the transformation away from a socialist economy to a more western system in 1990, there was a shortage of English language teachers in particular. By 2000 there was no teacher shortage and in some subject areas a surplus.

Salaries: Education is generally considered by Hungarians to be one of the worst paying employment sectors in the nation. The average teacher salary has increased every year since 1990 but has been grossly inadequate both in purchasing power and in its ability to keep up with inflation. It remains one of the most problematic areas of Hungary's educational system. In 2001 a typical salary of a person working in the education sector would be 72,710 HUF gross and 48,533 HUF net. There is no official discrimination in salary between men and women. More detailed data from the Ministry of Education reveal that salaries for women can range from 67,644 HUF to 46,162 HUF and for men 90,122 HUF to 56,714 HUF. This probably reflects the lower salaries for women who tend to occupy the more menial tasks (cleaners and canteen workers) in the education system. The typical salary scale quoted above is for all persons in education. Specifically for teachers, in 1998 a kindergarten teacher received 1.14 times the average salary, primary teachers earned 1.38 times, a secondary school teacher 1.67 times, and a university teacher 1.9 times. At the rate of exchange in 2001, a primary school teacher would take home approximately US$160.00 per month, while a university assistant professor could be expected to receive US$300.00 (In 2001, $1.00 was approximately 300 forints). The amount of salary usually depends on the years spent in the job, educational background, degree, and number of languages spoken, but not on gender. These salaries should be seen in light of daily living expenses in Hungary in 2001 that invariably exceeded salary by a significant amount. Indeed the average salary of a teacher or university professor in Hungary is such that supplemental sources of income must actively be sought. In rural areas it is estimated that 80 percent of teachers make extra money in addition to their teaching salary while in Budapest the figure is 79 percent of primary school teachers. In secondary schools the figure is 88 percent. This supplemental work usually involves private tutoring, supplemental teaching or consulting or even separate and different employment outside school hours, especially during the long summer recess.

Unions & Associations: Teachers are represented in Hungary by a union called The Democratic Union of Higher Education Employees (Pedagógusok Szakszervezete). However, the role and influence of this trade union, as those of all other trade unions, is weakening. In the socialist era they were not, nor could be, real organs of interest or representation, and after the systemic change in 1990, they were unable to adjust to the new political and economic system. The Union of Higher Education that represents employees in other areas of education (Felso~oktatási Dolgozók Szakszervezete) is not an exception, either. It is too weak to have a strong negotiating position.

There are also a number of student and administration bodies that are actively making representation in the process of changing the Hungarian educational system. For example there is a students' union that represents students' interests; it is represented at the national level by an association of students' unions with the acronym HÖOK.

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