2 minute read

Hungary - Summary

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


General Assessment: The Hungarian educational system is currently in a state of rapid and dramatic change. Up until the collapse of the eastern Bloc, it was a model of literacy, availability, and accomplishment. Since 1990 it has been required to transform to a more global orientation, conform to a more European system, and make provision in its graduates for a student that must function in a market economy and democratic system. The adjustment has been often slow, painful, and problematic. The principal challenges appear to be:

  • The desire to retain the standard of excellence that has characterized Hungarian education for many years
  • The ongoing ability of the Central government to find the financial means to provide complete funding for education
  • The need to pay teachers in the public schools and universities a living wage
  • The need for curriculum change to reflect the move away from a centralized economy to a market-driven privatized economy
  • A decreasing birth rate, particularly in the urban areas, that will put pressure on the educational system to adjust to a diminution in students entering the school system in the coming years
  • The removal of administrative appointments from the political sphere and its replacement by a system based on competition and merit.

It is also common practice that people who have not undergone educational leadership training, nor studied organizational development, make all education decisions at the local and regional level. It appears that there is the need for the installation of a professional educational leadership system of school principals and superintendents to provide professional leadership at the local and regional level. This in turn would suggest the need for more power for school boards made up of parent representatives.

International Programs: Upon the fall of the Soviet Union, the countries of the eastern Bloc embarked on a rapid program of opening up their educational system to the influences of western educational institutions. Many of these links were established by expatriate Hungarians who were located in the west as refugees or descendants of refugees from the 1956 Hungarian uprising. Hungarian institutions therefore invariably have a network of partners that are former socialist states as well as European and American partners. More specifically, the desire of the Hungarian government to join the European Union also created an extensive liaison with western institutions. Thus, for example, the HAC has an international advisory board of nine European Union and U.S. academics that meet yearly to advise and recommend changes to Hungary's educational system. The overall result today is vibrant and active exchanges between Hungarian educators and international educational institutions.

Needs for Changes—Future: It would therefore appear that the most significant changes required for Hungary's educational system to stabilize would be for the country to enjoy economic stability and prosperity from which education could take its place as a significant contributor to the country's viability. This kind of stabilization and growth is anticipated upon the accession of Hungary to the EU and at that time a revitalization of Hungarian education might be said to be complete.


Europa Publications 2001. The Europa World Yearbook 2000. 41st ed. Vol. 2. London: Europa Pub.

International Association of Universities 1998. International Handbook of Universities. 15th ed. New York: Groves Dictionaries, 1998.

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. (UNESCO). The Right to Education. World Education Report 2000. Paris: UNESCO, 2000.

Government of Hungary, Ministry of Education, 2001. Available from http://www.om.hu/jg.html.

—Richard W. Benfield and
Zoltán Raffay

Additional topics