SEATTLE — Hungary provided compulsory universal education for its citizens, under the Law of 1868, until the communist takeover following World War II. Schools were nationalized in 1948 and Soviet-style mass education replaced the elitist German style of education that had been widespread. Following the fall of communism, the country took a partial return to its former educational system and up until the 1990s education was compulsory for children aged six to 16 and free from the primary school level to the university level. The number of private schools and institutions also increased around this time.
As stated by the U.N. Development Programme, in 2016 Hungary had an Adult Literacy Rate of 99 percent and at present, the average amount of expected years of schooling is 15.6 years. Hungary did have an issue, however, when a recent economic crisis negatively impacted the country and resulted in a 7.8 percent decrease in public funding for education between 2011 and 2012. Fortunately, policies like the Tied Student Loan and Levy-Disbursement Scheme have been adopted in order to achieve an adequate level of funding for education.
According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, students in Hungary performed below average in mathematics, science and reading on the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2012. Educational attainment among Roma students is lower than the national average and less than one percent have a tertiary degree compared to 18.5 percent in the total Hungarian adult population. The lack of advanced education causes them to be marginalized and buried under long-term unemployment. “About half of Roma children are segregated and receive a substandard education,” says Andras Ujlaky, of the Chance for Children Foundation. Several initiatives have been taken by the government to provide better education opportunities and support, financial or otherwise, to the Roma and to other disadvantaged students: Sure Start Children Houses for children under age 3, Arany János Programmes for completion of secondary education, the On the Road Programme, the Tanoda Study Hall Programme and the Integrated Pedagogical System.
Hungary has many challenges to overcome in regard to its educational system including unequal access to quality education in minority areas, lack of a single and systematic assessment method for public education, low rates of participation of adults in lifelong learning, low economic efficiency and the need to make education more relevant to labor-market needs. One way to overcome some of these hurdles was through the introduction of the Higher Education Strategy in December 2014 which contains practical bachelor programmes, community-based higher education study centers in disadvantaged regions, a chancellery system through Act CCIV on National Higher Education and institutional governance.
Although Hungary has many educational issues to resolve, it seems they are making an effort to improve their educational system.
– Tripti Sinha