Guide of Hungarian Education System
Every country has an own system so if you are new at somewhere and you or your children have to go to school it is good if you see clearly what kind of scheme you have to follow. It’s same with Hungary, the country has its own, not too difficult rules about education which shows similarities with Central European. In this article we show the system step by step.
A special feature of the Hungarian education system is that institutional structures and the structure of educational programmes are not aligned with each other. The system's content structure, the uniform and general phase of education has extended, and secondary level education may be characterised by increased opportunities for transition. The general phase of education lasts until the age of 16 in Hungary's education system. Participation in secondary education, offering a wide variety of programmes, is fairly high. Within secondary education, the proportion of students studying in programmes leading to a secondary school-leaving certificate and offering transition to tertiary education is around the international average
In Hungary, schools and kindergartens are established and maintained by the state, local governments, minority local governments, legal entities (foundations, churches, etc.) as well as natural persons. The state provides maintainers with a budget subsidy for the performance of their services. About 90 per cent of children attend public sector institutions.
Organization of the educational system
This educational level is considered as a crucially important integrated part of the school system. It caters for children from 3 to 7 years of age. Since 2015, participation in pre-primary education at this level (kindergarten) is compulsory from age 3 (before 2015 only the final year - beyond age 5 - was compulsory), although exceptions are made for developmental reasons. Public-sector institutions may only charge for services additional to their basic tasks, including for example extracurricular activities, meals, excursions, etc.
In Hungary a kindergarten is called an óvoda ('place for caring'). Though kindergartens may include programs in subjects such as foreign languages and music, children spend most of their time playing. In their last year children begin to be prepared to attend elementary school. Most kindergartens are state-funded. Kindergarten teachers are required to have a diploma.
Primary schools (in Hungarian: általános iskola)
All children start their education in a primary school when they reach school-maturity, usually in the year in which they have their 6th birthday (7th if they were born after May 31).
Primary education can last for 4, 6 or 8 years. 8-year education is the most widespread. Subjects include literature, grammar, mathematics, music, art, Physical education, environmental studies (from 1st to 5th grade), biology (from 6th grade), geography (from 6th grade), history (from 5th grade), history of art, physics (from 6th grade), chemistry (from 7th grade), one or two foreign languages (usually English, German or French).
Since 1997 the numbering of years in secondary school are following that of primary school (i. e. after the 8th grade of primary school the student goes to 9th grade, which is actually the 1st year of secondary school.)
General secondary schools (in Hungarian: gimnázium)
Most pupils who plan to continue their studies in higher education pursue their secondary education in a general secondary school, teaches at least 2 foreign languages which provides general education and concludes with the so-called maturity examination. General secondary schools offer four, six or eight-year-long courses and have diverse curricula.
Secondary vocational schools (in Hungarian: szakközépiskola)
Secondary vocational schools currently provide general and pre-vocational education at upper secondary level in grades 9 to 12 (or 9 to 13 in bilingual and other programmes starting with a ‘language preparatory year’), and lead to a secondary school leaving examination, which qualifies for higher education entry (ISCED level 3A). After passing such exams, students can also choose to stay in vocational education and training (VET) to pursue further studies in post-secondary non-tertiary education (ISCED level 4C).
Pursuant to the new VET Act of 2011, as of September 2013, secondary vocational schools will provide VET parallel to general education from grade 9, leading to a ‘vocational secondary school leaving examination’.
Vocational schools (in Hungarian: szakiskola)
This school type typically provides general and pre-vocational education in grades 9 and 10, normally followed by three or two years of VET. At the end of their studies, students will acquire a qualification (ISCED 2C or mostly 3C).
After finishing secondary school, students take a school-leaving exam (Matura or final exam, érettségi in Hungarian). This consists from 2005 of exams on five subjects: written exam in mathematics, verbal and written exams in literature and grammar, a foreign language, history, and written and/or verbal exam in a subject of the student's choice. These exams also serve as an entry exam to universities and colleges. The Hungarian universities and colleges are world-famous because there is a high-quality education.