This chapter provides a thematic and chronological overview of national reforms and policy developments since 2020.
The introduction of the chapter describes the overall education strategy and the key objectives across the whole education system. It also looks at how the education reform process is organised and who are the main actors in the decision-making process.
The section on ongoing reforms and policy developments groups reforms in the following broad thematic areas that largely correspond to education levels:
- Early childhood education and care
- School education
- VET and Adult learning
- Higher education
- Transversal skills and Employability.
Inside each thematic area, reforms are organised chronologically. The most recent reforms are described first.
Overall national education strategy and key objectives
The challenges at present include:
- decreasing the proportion of early leavers from education,
- improving basic competences and increasing the role of schools in dealing with disadvantages in the field of public education,
- reducing the educational performance gap between the institutions,
- improving the efficiency of basic and secondary-level education and consolidating a more efficient and more productive institutional management system in general education,
- creating opportunities for efficient career guidance,
- improving the quality of vocational education and making it more attractive,
- providing the conditions for the extension of dual training and taking economic demands into consideration to a greater extent during the content development of VET and in practical training,
- establishing a more efficient VET institutional system,
- improving the number of students obtaining a tertiary-level degree and the participation of disadvantaged students in tertiary education,
- increasing adult participation in lifelong learning,
- promoting the digital switch-over in the entire educational and training system.
The government adopted the public education strategy for the EU programming period between 2021-2030 in August 2020, its main objective is to achieve an equitable, modern public education system.
Five specific objectives include 14 intervention directions.
Equitable, modern national public education
INTERVENTIONAL DIRECTIONS ASSIGNED TO SPECIFIC OBJECTIVES
1 Ensuring the internal balance of education
2 Development of human resources involved in public education as a state-provided public service
3 Equitable public education that takes individual features into consideration
4 Public education responsive to the challenges of the 21st century
5 Educational support of the Hungarian diaspora and the minorities in Hungary
Link with the new targets set by the Member States of the EU, the Council:
Decreasing the proportion of early school-leavers
The number of early school-leavers (percentage of the population aged 18-24 who have not finished at least lower secondary education and also do not participate in further education or training in the last 4 years) is between 11,6 and 12,5 in Hungary from 2015 (12,0
1% in 2021 ). The target for 2030 is to be below 9%.
The Hungarian strategy on public education builds on the achievements of the previous programming period. The compulsory school age starts at the age of 3 instead of 5 from September 2015. The Public Education Act was modified in January 2015, the notion of students at the risk of dropping out was established and an early warning tracking system was stipulated to set up and operate. On the basis of the data extracted from the system, the proportion of students at the risk of drop out was 4, 82% in the second semester of the academic year 2021/22.
The training of educational personnel and the support of disadvantaged students in the János Arany and the so called Tanoda Programme is ongoing. Among others, the development comprises situation analysis pertaining to the organisation of local education as well as supporting education, and the preparation of a complex action plan facilitating desegregation. In the course of the implementation of desegregation measures, increased emphasis is placed on the comprehensive planning of education organisational processes, and a more complex analysis of education indicators.
Further development of early childhood institutional education and care
The previous European target aimed at children above 4 and it was 95%, Hungary had already achieved it back in 2017 with 95.6%. The EU target for 2030 is that the proportion of children between the age of 3 and compulsory school age participating in early childhood education and care shall be 96%. The status of the new target was 92.8% in 2020.
The compulsory education starts at the age of 3 in Hungary.
Key developmental directions relating to early childhood institutional education and care:
- ensuring involvement in early childhood education and care to the greatest extent possible;
- Education for children which help to flourish their talent
- professional and infrastructural support to kindergartens in providing education and care that helps bring out the personalities of children, as well as with their activities aimed at preparation for school and the transition between kindergarten and school;
- developing the system of kindergartens and schools offering student teaching opportunities, and reinforcement of their responsibilities.
Measures aiming at improving basic competences and handling disadvantaged students include:
The performance of Hungarian 15-year-olds in the PISA survey reduced slightly between 2009, 2012 and 2015 compared to the previous assessments. In 2018, the results of Hungarian students improved in all three measurement areas. Hungary’s results are close to the OECD average. Differences caused by the family background play less and less role in the performance of Hungarian students, the level of school absenteeism has decreased, and 68% of Hungarian students have declared that they were satisfied with their lives.
Hungarian students scored 476 points against the 470 points achieved in reading literacy in 2015, 481 points against 477 in mathematics, and 481 points against 477 in the field of sciences.
The PISA survey once again pointed out that there are great differences between the excellent and poor performances of students. At the same time, the proportion of underachievers has decreased compared to 2015: 25.3% instead of 27.5% in reading literacy (OECD average: 22.7%), 24.1 % instead of 26% in the field of science (OECD average: 22%) and 25.6% instead of 28% in the field of mathematics (OECD average: 24%). The share of underachievers in all three fields together is 15.5%, the OECD average is 13.3%.
The EU target is that the underachievers in reading literacy, mathematics and sciences be under 15% at the age of 15 for 2030.
The Public Education strategy aims at lowering the number of underachievers, the improvement of schools that underperform and enhancing tailor made supportive education.
Development of digital competences and services
The EU target is that the underachievers in the field of computing and IT literacy in grade 8 shall be under 15% for 2030.
The Public Education Strategy, in accordance with the Digital Education Strategy identifies the following areas for development:
Development of digital competences and services
- The significance of digital competences
- Digital infrastructure
- The digital preparedness of teachers
- Textbook development
- Digital content development
- Development of the public education LMS system
Vocational education and training
A new concept was developed to reform the whole system of vocational education in 2019. The related regulation is effective from 1st January 2020. The Vocational Education and Training Act (LXXX 2019) brings overall changes in the field. New entrants into vocational education- from the school year launched on 1 September 2020- start their studies on the basis of these new regulations.
The three pillars of VET development described in the VET 4.0 Strategy are the following
- Career opportunity
- simple, transparent, flexible training system
- direct path from the technicum to the higher education based on the results of the professional examination
- grant system
2. Attractive environment
- infrastructure, development programmes (buildings, tools)
- high quality, well equipped apprenticeship classroom to enhance field oriented vocational education
- digital content
3. Teachers and instructors with up-to-date knowledge
- accredited trainings at companies for instructors
- involvement of engineers, experts working in the economy in the school programme
- flexible trainings for engineer teachers and instructors of the given field
- development of the methodology for small groups of students to catch up, mentor programme
- QA system tailored for the needs of the vocational education, educator career system
- digital assistants
The target of the EU is that the share of recent graduates from VET benefiting from exposure to work-based learning during their vocational education and training should be at least 60%, by 2025.
Improving tertiary attainment
The rate of tertiary attainment in Hungary (aged 30-34) is about 33-34% (2021: 35.5 %). The share of 25-34-year-olds with tertiary educational attainment should be at least 45%, by 2030. In 2021 this was 32.9% in Hungary.
The higher education strategy entitled “Shifting of gears in higher education 2.0” has the target year of 2030. The above strategy set the following main objectives to be achieved in higher education:
- institutions give a quicker and more effective response to labour market demands as a result of organisational changes;
- the local network of higher educational institutions should give a chance for everyone to join higher education;
- increasing the number of students coming from regionally disadvantaged areas, disadvantaged families as well as disabled and Roma students and graduates;
- increasing the number of female students in STEM courses;
- increasing the number of students and graduates in STEM courses
- significantly decreasing the rate of drop-out;
- improving students’ competences related to labour market demands;
- increasing the ratio of students with a higher education degree within a certain age group;
- increasing the number of students participating in international mobility programmes
- significantly improving the pedagogical and teaching-methodological preparedness of teachers
- students obtain degrees that are more competitive and provide a more grounded knowledge;
- Hungarian higher education becomes more attractive;
- due to a balanced training structure, institutions have a greater potential to provide trainings at an international level; consequently, their income deriving from these trainings will be higher.
The rate of Hungarian adult participation (between the age of 25 and 64) in lifelong learning is considered low in the EU (5.9 % compared to an EU-27 average of 10.8% in 2021).
The most important recent policy development in the field of adult learning is the implementation of the modified law on adult training.
Strategic goals in the adult training:
- assessment of the achievements of trainings with the help of a career tracking system.
- responsiveness to the needs of labour market with the help of a renewed labour market forecasting system
- lessening the administrative requirements
- increasing the number of participants in adult training
- new financial incentives (student loan, grants)
- enhancing an adult training system based on learning outcomes, accredited examination centres independent from the training providers
The EU target is that at least 47% of adults aged 25-64 have participated in learning during the last 12 months, by 2025. European data collection starts in 2022.
Overview of the education reform process and drivers
Educational reform processes are mainly initiated by the Hungarian government, which formulates draft legislation to be presented to the Hungarian Parliament. The Parliament adopts acts (e.g. the Act on General Education, the Act on Higher Education). Strategies as well as curricular documents (e.g. the National Core Programme of Kindergarten Education and Care and the National Core Curriculum for school education) are mainly adopted by the government.
Central educational governance or supervision are under the auspices of mainly three ministries, namely the Ministry of Interior (public education) and the Ministry of Culture and Innovation (higher education, vocational education and training). The Ministry of Technology and Industry is responsible for adult education.
The Minister responsible for general education is in charge of:
- evaluating regularly, but at least in every five year - with the help of a council established by the same minister - the experiences related to the introduction and implementation of the National Core Programme of Kindergarten Education and the National Core Curriculum for school education, and if necessary this minister initiates the necessary amendments at the Government,
developing a strategy for general education,
- establishing, developing and modernising the system of national examinations,
- assessing pedagogical problems in public education, and developing pedagogical solutions and procedures for them,
- developing and publishing educational programmes.
The minister responsible for higher education, among others
- manages the higher education sector.
- defines the education and training output requirements of tertiary vocational programmes (ISCED 5), as well as in bachelor's and master's programmes.
- every year, within the framework defined by law, legally establishes -with a ministerial decision- which HEI programme can be financed with Hungarian state (partial) scholarships.
- prepares development plans for the higher education system, including the medium-term development plan.
- furthermore, examines the training and educational problems occurring in higher education, and orders the development of solutions, and provides the professional conditions necessary for national student competence measurements.
- ensures the organizational and financial prerequisites necessary for research in higher education,
- supports new training and educational methods, solutions, organizational forms, and institutional network development.
- revises the structure of programmes in higher education (tertiary vocational programmes (ISCED 5), bachelor's and master's programmes).
- evaluates the relationship between higher education and the economy at least every three years.
The minister responsible for vocational education and training
- publishes the education and training output requirements and the programme curriculum with the agreement of the member of the Government responsible for the given sector.
- determines the content of the central examination of professions with the agreement of the member of the Government responsible for the given sector.
- develops the vocational education and training textbooks with the agreement of the member of the Government responsible for the given sector.
- ensures the necessary prerequisites for the operation of the VET Innovation Council,
- carries out research and service development tasks related to VET and develops the methodology for the evaluation of instructors (oktatók).
The Educational Authority – founded by the government as a key actor in the educational sector – also participates in the development of strategic documents and programmes.
A government decree regulates the scope of tasks and responsibilities.
The main consultative bodies are:
- the National Public Education Council (OKNT) which is a proposer, a reviewer and a consultative body as regards general education. It may prepare proposals on issues related to general education. Besides, it gives an opinion on the draft version of the National Core Curriculum for schools, their framework curricula as well as their implementation. Its members are delegated by the Minister. The list of members and the agenda of the Council is available online. The National Public Education Council was reformed in 2017. (Government Decree no. 1382/2017. (VI.16.) describes the formation of the National Public Education Council (OKNT), the Roundtable on General Educational Strategy and the Council of National Minorities.) Out of the 17 members of the OKNT, six members are proposed by professional organisations; and two members by teacher training institutions.
- Pursuant to Government Decree no. 1382/2017. (VI.16.), the Roundtable on General Educational Strategy was established. The Roundtable on General Educational Strategy is a social consultative body which makes proposals, gives opinions and carries out strategic counselling activity with five stakeholders: the government, the professional participants, the maintainers, the trade union and the student-parent organisations. The expert group includes the representatives of the national organisation of teachers, the academies (Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Hungarian Academy of Arts), the Rectors’ Conference, the practising schools and the National Public Education Council (OKNT).
- Council of National Minorities: participates in the preparation of decisions related to the general education of nationalities; it is a national expert body providing proposals, opinions and consultancy activities. Its members (13) are delegated by the national governments of national minorities.
Dual Training Council: its task is, among others, to develop the professional, qualification and evaluation requirements relevant for the profession in the specific training field established by law. Furthermore, it develops the professional and qualification requirements imposed on the organization participating in practical training, as well as on the specialist participating in the practical training on behalf of the organization. At the request of the minister responsible for VET or the minister responsible for the coordination of science policies, this body provides their ad-hoc expert opinion, as well as prepares, analyses and conducts research on the basis of education policy decisions.
Hungarian Rectors’ Conference: a consultative body representing the interests of higher education institutions. Its members are the rectors of higher education institutions.
- National Doctoral Council: consultative body; takes a position on questions related to doctoral programmes and awarding degrees, this body is also consulted, e.g., when funded doctoral places are being allocated. It determines the principles used for the quality- and performance-based distribution of the number of students supported by Hungarian state (partial) scholarships for doctoral programmes among higher education institutions. The members of the Council are the presidents of the doctoral councils of higher education institutions.
In addition, anti-segregation working teams shall be set up in every school district at local level on the basis of the modifications – effective from November 2017 – of the Government Decree No 134/2018 (VI.10.) on the establishment of school district councils. The tasks of the teams are to monitor and provide advisory expertise. Furthermore, they monitor the distribution of students and help public-maintainer dialogue.