European, global and intercultural dimension in curriculum development
Respect of the European values
Hungary’s Fundamental Law provides equal access to education for all Hungarian and European citizens, in accordance with the existing treaty of the European Union; international decrees on human rights; the rights of children; the rights of national and ethnical minorities and gender equality.
In Hungary, there is currently no specific legislation for the European dimension of the education. At the same time, the principles of the 2011 Public Education Act are based on traditional European values. They emphasize the pedagogical task of supporting the individual's harmonious physical, spiritual and intellectual development; the need to educate the harmony between individual interests and the common good; the importance of preparing for a moral, independent and responsible lifestyle; serving the prevention of social repression and serving talent support.
The law requires public educational institutions to set up individualized, trust-, and empathy-based, far-reaching requirements. In terms of pedagogical methods and the assessment of students, it recommends procedures which are versatile to suit the requirements of the student's development.
Development of key competences
In 2012, a nationwide basic programme for kindergarten education (Government Decree 363/2012) was set up, aiming at pre-primary education to promote the diverse and harmonious development of kindergarten children, the development of a child’s personality, the reduction of disadvantages, while taking age and individual characteristics and different pace of development into account. Accordingly, from the 2015/2016 school year, the main task of pre-primary education (which is compulsory from age 3) is to satisfy the physical and psychological needs of the children, including the development of a healthy lifestyle. The emotional, moral and value-oriented community education, the development of the mother tongue and intellectual development are also important tasks of nursery education.
In June 2016, the European Commission launched a review of key competences for lifelong learning as a result of political, economic, social, ecological and technical changes over the last ten years. The development process was not about supplementing the list so far, but rather about creating a new structure that groups the competences that an individual should acquire around three main nodes:
- managing the future (future’s literacy)
- “managing” the personal world, or creating inner integrity (personal competencies)
- community approach (collective competencies).
The consultation process was completed in the summer of 2017 and, based on the conclusions, the European Commission adopted in January 2018 a new proposal for a recommendation on key competences for lifelong learning.
In 2017, the review of the National Core Curriculum began. In addition to the requirement for periodic review, the reason for this was the stagnation or deterioration in international competency measurements (see OECD PISA results). Also, education based on the core curriculum and its related framework curriculum focuses too much on knowledge rather than applying it. The project of the new curriculum was completed by September 2018 and a social and professional consultation was launched on the concept. Afterwards, the new National Core Curriculum was finalised and was adopted in September 2020, from grades one, five and nine.
In the new National Core Curriculum, based on the key competences suggested by the European Union but taking into account the specifics of Hungary defines the general competences across the fields of learning as follows, as well as those that cannot be linked exclusively to any field of learning, but are based on the acquired knowledge to a varying extent and composition, and develop in the learning-teaching process.
- Learning to learn competences
- Communication competences (for the mother tongue and foreign languages)
- Digital competences
- Mathematical and thinking competences
- Personal and social (relationship) competences
- Creativity, self-expression and cultural awareness competences
- Workforce, innovation and entrepreneurial competences
In the new National Core Curriculum, the basic learning and education objective is to develop national and European identity, patriotism and active citizenship and democracy. Developing knowledge of Europe and skills related to European awareness is embedded in the traditional curriculum. The current European curriculum is shared by several subjects (literature, geography, history, modern foreign languages, art subjects, science subjects). At the cross-curricular (interdisciplinary) level, curriculum developers are expecting teachers to relate what is known about Europe.
Internationalisation in the Measurement of Key Competences
There are surveys commissioned by two organizations, the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA) and the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) for comparing and measuring the competences. These sample-based surveys, which are repeated periodically, primarily measure the level of basic competences (literacy, mathematical and/or scientific knowledge, skills), but also focus on other competencies (such as problem-solving skills). The EU does not currently have its own EU-level competence measurement, so the indicator values for EU strategic objectives are in many cases based on the results of these measurements (see, for example, the percentage of underperformers in PISA measurements).
Hungary joined the international surveys of students' knowledge, skills and motivations already in the late 1960s, first initiated by the IEA. Since then, Hungary has been a regular participant in IEA-organized international performance measurement, including the TIMSS (Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study), which has been testing students' mathematics and science knowledge in four-year cycles since 1995 at the end of grades 4 and 8, and In PIRLS (Progress in International Reading Literacy Study), which has been measuring the reading comprehension skills of grade 4 students every five years since 2001. These measurements focus primarily on knowledge contents. Also organised by the IEA, the International Computer and Information Literacy Study (ICILS) takes place in Hungary for the first time in 2023.
Since 2000, Hungary has also been participating in the OECD's Programme for International Students Assessment (PISA), which measures the reading comprehension, mathematics and science competences of students aged 15. The PISA measurement captures how students can successfully use the knowledge they have acquired at school, i.e. PISA measures applied practical literacy.
In 2008, the OECD launched the Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC). Within this framework, a Survey of Adult Skills for international comparisons assesses the competencies of the adult population aged 16-65 in the participating countries. 24 countries, including 19 EU Member States, participated in the first round of the survey (2010-2012) and a further 9, including 3 EU countries, in the second round (2013-2015). Hungary joined the third round, the survey the data collection took place in 2018.The implementation in Hungary was led by the National Office of Vocational Education and Training and Adult Learning (NOVETAL), in a consortium with the Ministry of National Economy and the Hungarian Central Statistical Office (KSH).. The focus of the study, similar to the PISA measurements, is on basic and key competences and practical skills essential to the social and economic challenges of the 21st century.
International measurements provide information on a country's education system and creates opportunities for planning system-wide interventions, but are not suitable for institutional development. Recognizing this, the education government launched in 2000 the National Assessment of Basic Competences Programme, which adapted the technology of international educational achievement measurement.
The National Assessment of Basic Competences examines the reading, text comprehension, mathematical and natural sciences competencies of all 6th, 8th, and 10th-grade students in the country annually, in accordance with international test development and measurement standards. Since 2008, individual tracking of measurements has also been possible, so the subsequent results of the 6th-grade student - 8th and 10th grade - and the student's progress can be analysed. Recent developments include the measurement of new areas, so from the 2014/2015 school year, foreign languages have been included in grades 6 and 8. Foreign language assessment - with the exception of pupils in bilingual primary and lower secondary education who take part in the target language assessment – measures the competences of pupils in grades 6 and 8 who learn English or German as their first foreign language. Since the 2021/2022 school year, the natural science competency field has been added to the system, and students have to take the assessments online. An important change for the 2022/2023 school year is the extension of the assessments to other grades, with digital assessments in different competency areas in grades 4-11.
The results of the measurements are published each year in a national report, in addition, through the programme, maintainers and schools have direct access to the aggregate and student data of the school via the internet, and thanks to improvements, parents and students now have access to their own performance data up to the task solution. In addition, schools can also download comparative data from the internet to compare their own results with those of schools of a similar type and socio-cultural background and with the national results. The downloadable database and analysis software allow schools to further analyse their teaching results. The competence measurement holder, Unit for Public Education Measurement Evaluation of the Education Authority, provides users with seminars and further training in data analysis.
The National Unified Student Fitness Test (NETFIT), a compulsory and uniform method of measuring fitness in the Hungarian public education system, has been launched since the 2014/2015 school year. Measuring and examining the physical condition and fitness of pupils takes place among students in full-time school education (except for grades 1-4) where physical education is taught.
Partnerships and Networks
The Erasmus + program strengthens the co-operation between schools (educational institutions) and / or other organizations, and develops the strategic partnerships on those subjects that have a significant impact on public and vocational education.
One of the main aims of the ERASMUS+ KA2 cooperation partnerships sub-programme is to provide opportunity to develop, disseminate and apply new and innovative practices and methodologies.
In the projects, the joint objectives of the partners include peer learning, exchange of good practices, creation of a solid base and enhancing international cooperation, the summary and dissemination of these results, as well as the development of the participants’ competences. To achieve this, different priorities are set, partly for all sectors and partly sector-specific. For the 2021-2027 programme period, the Erasmus+ programme focuses on the themes of inclusion, digitalisation, the environment and active citizenship in public affairs. Specific priorities supported in the area of public education include, for example, in 2023, the development of key competences and language teaching, improving the attractiveness of STEM fields, combating learning disadvantages and early school leaving. In the field of vocational education and training, the main priorities are to increase labour market relevance, increase attractiveness and flexibility, contribute to innovation in vocational education and training and internationalisation.
Cooperation partnerships projects in the public education and VET sectors may be implemented in two main application opportunities:
- Partnerships for cooperation, in which the cooperation may last from 12 to 36 months and must involve at least 3 organisations.
- Small-scale partnerships, which offer institutions with less international experience the opportunity to participate in Erasmus+. Small-scale partnerships can last from 6 to 24 months and involve at least 2 organisations.
Applications received in the 2014-2020 programme period closed gradually during 2021, while new types of calls for applications and their granting started in 2021. In the first year, 19 applications were supported under the "Small-scale partnerships" and 8 under the "Partnerships for Cooperation" in the field of public education, while 8 and 11 applications were supported in the vocational education and training sector.
Almost 33,000 schools from 121 countries participate in the GLOBE Programme (Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment) which was established in 1995. The objective of the programme is to enhance environmentally-conscious education by creating an experience-based relationship with nature. In the framework of the environment observation network, pupils carry out meteorological, soil and water chemistry observations in their environment.
Since launching the programme, approximately 150 million measurements have been carried out by 10 million students from more than 33 000 schools. In this programme, students not only gather data but also try to identify the reasons behind poor results.
Since 1999, 30 Hungarian secondary schools have joined the GLOBE Programme. One of the first ones was the István Bibó Upper Secondary General School in Kiskunhalas that has been the core institution of the Hungarian GLOBE schools since 2008.
The Association of Hungarian Talent Support Organisation (MATEHETSZ) consists of Talent Points. The Talent Points have been created as a new, accentuated organizational form for talent management, development and support, which was initiated by the National Talent Support Council more than ten years ago (the first calls were made in 2007), both in Hungary and in the cross-border areas inhabited by Hungarians. The objective of the Talent Points is to support talented pupils, their teachers and parents, advising them and providing them career orientation. Their further task is to collaborate in the network, to enhance the sharing of experience, information flow and processing within and between institutions. The aim is to support pupils in recognising and enhancing their talent; therefore, they are provided with a wide range of customised information about their opportunities. The Network has over 1,400 members in Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, Serbia, Ukraine and Austria.
In 2012, the Association of Hungarian Talent Support Organisation - to extend this network model to other countries in Europe - set up the European Talent Centre in 2012, whose main goal is to help the European talent support activities in cooperation with the European Council for High Ability (ECHA). In 2015 the European Council for High Ability (ECHA) Accreditation Committee accredited 14 talent centres in 13 countries, including the European Talent Centre in Budapest, from which the European Talent Support Network was formally established in September 2015. Currently, there are 21 European and 4 non-European centres in the Network, which, thanks to their joint networking activities, now have nearly 300 talent points from 44 countries.
The UNESCO’s Associated Schools Network was established in 1953. The aim of the programme is to stimulate and strengthen the development and the testing of innovative educational content, new types of education and learning approaches, peer learning, networking and the exchange of experiences. The schools pay special attention to make pupils more aware of global issues; sustainable development; human rights and democracy; as well as improving pupil’s peaceful co-existence and intercultural dialogue. Today, this international network has 11,500 educational institutions in 182 countries. In Hungary, more than 40 schools have joined the programme.