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Hungary:Teaching and Learning in Single Structure Education

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Overview Hungary


Hungary:Political, Social and Economic Background and Trends

Hungary:Historical Development

Hungary:Main Executive and Legislative Bodies

Hungary:Population: Demographic Situation, Languages and Religions

Hungary:Political and Economic Situation

Hungary:Organisation and Governance

Hungary:Fundamental Principles and National Policies

Hungary:Lifelong Learning Strategy

Hungary:Organisation of the Education System and of its Structure

Hungary:Organisation of Private Education

Hungary:National Qualifications Framework

Hungary:Administration and Governance at Central and/or Regional Level

Hungary:Administration and Governance at Local and/or Institutional Level

Hungary:Statistics on Organisation and Governance

Hungary:Funding in Education

Hungary:Early Childhood and School Education Funding

Hungary:Higher Education Funding

Hungary:Adult Education and Training Funding

Hungary:Early Childhood Education and Care

Hungary:Organisation of Programmes for Children under 2-3 years

Hungary:Teaching and Learning in Programmes for Children under 2-3 years

Hungary:Assessment in Programmes for Children under 2-3 years

Hungary:Organisation of Programmes for Children over 2-3 years

Hungary:Teaching and Learning in Programmes for Children over 2-3 years

Hungary:Assessment in Programmes for Children over 2-3 years

Hungary:Organisational Variations and Alternative Structures in Early Childhood Education and Care

Hungary:Single Structure Education (Integrated Primary and Lower Secondary Education)

Hungary:Organisation of Single Structure Education

Hungary:Teaching and Learning in Single Structure Education

Hungary:Assessment in Single Structure Education

Hungary:Organisational Variations and Alternative Structures in Single Structure Education

Hungary:Secondary and Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

Hungary:Organisation of General Secondary Education

Hungary:Teaching and Learning in General Secondary Education

Hungary:Assessment in General Secondary Education

Hungary:Organisation of Vocational Secondary Education

Hungary:Teaching and Learning in Vocational Secondary Education

Hungary:Assessment in Vocational Secondary Education

Hungary:Organisation of Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

Hungary:Teaching and Learning in Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

Hungary:Assessment in Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

Hungary:Higher Education

Hungary:Types of Higher Education Institutions

Hungary:First Cycle Programmes


Hungary:Short-Cycle Higher Education

Hungary:Second Cycle Programmes

Hungary:Programmes outside the Bachelor and Master Structure

Hungary:Third Cycle (PhD) Programmes

Hungary:Adult Education and Training

Hungary:Distribution of Responsibilities

Hungary:Developments and Current Policy Priorities

Hungary:Main Providers

Hungary:Main Types of Provision

Hungary:Validation of Non-formal and Informal Learning

Hungary:Teachers and Education Staff

Hungary:Initial Education for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

Hungary:Conditions of Service for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

Hungary:Continuing Professional Development for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

Hungary:Initial Education for Academic Staff in Higher Education

Hungary:Conditions of Service for Academic Staff Working in Higher Education

Hungary:Continuing Professional Development for Academic Staff Working in Higher Education

Hungary:Initial Education for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

Hungary:Conditions of Service for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

Hungary:Continuing Professional Development for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

Hungary:Management and Other Education Staff

Hungary:Management Staff for Early Childhood and School Education

Hungary:Staff Involved in Monitoring Educational Quality for Early Childhood and School Education

Hungary:Education Staff Responsible for Guidance in Early Childhood and School Education

Hungary:Other Education Staff or Staff Working with Schools

Hungary:Management Staff for Higher Education

Hungary:Other Education Staff or Staff Working in Higher Education

Hungary:Management Staff Working in Adult Education and Training

Hungary:Other Education Staff or Staff Working in Adult Education and Training

Hungary:Quality Assurance

Hungary:Quality Assurance in Early Childhood and School Education

Hungary:Quality Assurance in Higher Education

Hungary:Quality Assurance in Adult Education and Training

Hungary:Educational Support and Guidance

Hungary:Special Education Needs Provision within Mainstream Education

Hungary:Separate Special Education Needs Provision in Early Childhood and School Education

Hungary:Support Measures for Learners in Early Childhood and School Education

Hungary:Guidance and Counselling in Early Childhood and School Education

Hungary:Support Measures for Learners in Higher Education

Hungary:Guidance and Counselling in Higher Education

Hungary:Support Measures for Learners in Adult Education and Training

Hungary:Guidance and Counselling in a Lifelong Learning Approach

Hungary:Mobility and Internationalisation

Hungary:Mobility in Early Childhood and School Education

Hungary:Mobility in Higher Education

Hungary:Mobility in Adult Education and Training

Hungary:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Early Childhood and School Education

Hungary:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Higher Education

Hungary:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Adult Education and Training

Hungary:Bilateral Agreements and Worldwide Cooperation

Hungary:Ongoing Reforms and Policy Developments

Hungary:National Reforms in Early Childhood Education and Care

Hungary:National Reforms in School Education

Hungary:National Reforms in Vocational Education and Training and Adult Learning

Hungary:National Reforms in Higher Education

Hungary:National Reforms related to Transversal Skills and Employability

Hungary:European Perspective





Curriculum, Subjects, Number of Hours

Since 2000, the content of teaching and learning at Hungarian schools has been determined by a system of three-tier curricular regulation as provided in the relevant act.

The National Core Curriculum constitutes the highest nationwide level of content regulation. Once compiled by a committee of educational/curriculum experts, NCC undergoes professional consultations, amended accordingly and submitted to the Government. As a comprehensive strategic document, the government decree (Gov. Decree No 110/2012 (VI.4.) on the Issuing, Introduction and Implementation of the National Core Curriculum) and its annex has a binding effect on all institutions and operators of public education, “taking into account the tasks specified in the Fundamental Law of Hungary and aiming at fulfilling the objectives of the Act on National Public Education, in accordance with the principles and regulations of the Act, ...determines public education as fundamental to transfer and preserve national knowledge and the cultures of local nationalities, to spread universal culture and to enhance moral sense and mental and emotional susceptibility.”

The National Core Curriculum in effect is made up of three structural units. Part I (Content regulation of public education and teaching and regulatory levels) determines the tasks and values of public education, and, within this, the common values affecting the whole teaching process (Developmental tasks – educational goals) and the fundamental principles of diversified organisation of learning adapted to the special needs of institutions and students under uniform regulations. Part II (Competence development, transmission of learning, building knowledge) interprets the key competences recommended by the European Union, the development of which is a complex cross-curricular task. Moreover, it defines the educational phases (primary phase, lower secondary phase, upper secondary education) and their functions, as well as it gives recommendations on the time frames to be spent on each domain of learning. The most extensive part of the document describes the material of the ten learning domains in a consolidated structure (Fundamental principles and goals; Developmental tasks; Learning domain-related content elements). In compliance with its genre (core curriculum) and following from its role in content regulation, NCC specifies required developmental achievements and knowledge for the end of grades 4, 6, 8 and 12 broken down to the consecutive educational phases of the complete compulsory education process. The document thereby establishes the uniform content of public education. The third part of NCC contains the Glossary, which is a list of expressions and definitions relating to content regulation. The purpose of the Glossary is to ensure the uniform interpretation of expressions, definitions and basic concepts relating to content regulation by the experts applying the NCC, the experts in charge of the preparation of framework and local curricula and textbook and programme developers.

The NCC is unique in that it does not specify in what subject structure should the processing of learning domain-related content elements and fulfilment of developmental tasks take place, but rather defines them in a structure of ten learning domains. The task of determining the subjects and the time frames to be spent on them taking account of the relevant recommendations in the NCC lies with the experts in charge of the preparation of framework curricula and programme packages. Traditionally, only one subject belongs to certain learning domains (e.g. Mathematics, Foreign Languages, Knowledge of Earth and Environment), while more than one subject (Knowledge of Environment, Knowledge of Nature, Biology and Health, Physics, Chemistry) is needed to meet the requirements of other learning domains (e.g. humanity and nature).

Table 2 – Recommended percentage proportions for NCC learning domains (Source: Government Decree No. 243/2003, p. 23.)

Learning Domain / Grade
1 to 4
5 to 6
7 to 8
Hungarian language and literature
32 to 42
17 to 24
10 to 15
Living foreign language
2 to 6
12 to 20
12 to 20
17 to 23
15 to 20
10 to 15
Human and society
4 to 8
4 to 8
10 to 15
Human in nature
4 to 8
7 to 11
15 to 20
Our Earth and environment
4 to 8
4 to 8
10 to 18
12 to 16
8 to 15
Information technology
2 to 5
4 to 8
6 to 10
Life style and practical skills
4 to 8
4 to 9
5 to 10
Physical exercise and sports
15 to 20
11 to 15
10 to 15

Framework curricula intended to transpose NCC requirements and spirit into everyday practice form the medium level of the system of content regulation. The function of framework curricula is to operationalise the developmental tasks set by the NCC for each educational phase and to designate the public educational content to be learned. For each school type and educational phase, the framework curricula contain targets for teaching and educating children, as well as the system of subjects, the topics to be covered by the subjects, the content of each topic, the subject-related requirements for one or two grades, the tasks of developing fields of cross-curricular knowledge and skills, and the available compulsory or recommended time frames available for meeting these requirements.

The minister responsible for education issues and approves the framework curricula. The framework curriculum packages issued in the autumn of 2012 as the annex to the decree of the Ministry of Human Resources on framework curricula were prepared by teachers teaching in the trade groups of learning domains under the coordination of the Institute for Educational Research and Development. The framework curricula cover all subjects of all school types and in case of some subjects they provide the schools with the possibility to choose from them. Church operated schools and schools following an alternative programme may prepare their own framework curriculum according to the NCC, which becomes official upon their approval by the Ministry of Human Resources. Separate framework curricula are prepared for schools of an ethnic minority language. Guidelines are prepared for bilingual schools and for schools that provide special development for students with special education needs. Furthermore, it is possible to prepare a separate framework curriculum for each educational phase and to have it accredited within the legal framework (e.g. in the case of institutions applying alternative pedagogy). The schools modify their local curricula according to the new framework curricula, and the processing of the teaching curriculum under the new curricula starts from grades 1 and 5 in a phasing-in system.

The concept of the educational programme package appearing at the same level of content regulation was integrated in the system of content development and content regulation during the revision of the National Core Curriculum in 2003. The educational programme package contains a curriculum, a pedagogical concept, module descriptions, teaching aids designed to help planned activities be realised, as well as assessment and evaluation tools assisting the control and evaluation of student achievements and progress. An educational programme package can be either a comprehensive package or a document covering one or more domains of learning or subjects. Launched in 2005 and implemented in EU co-financing as one of the largest education development projects in recent years, the extensive school development programme was aimed at the development and introduction of competence-based pedagogical systems. Within the framework of the programme, development, testing and correction of educational programme packages have been implemented in six competence areas, namely (1) comprehension and content writing in the mother tongue, grades 1 to 8, (2) mathematical competence, grades 1 to 8, (3) foreign language competence (in English, German, French and Hungarian as a foreign language), grades 5 to 8, (4) career development competence, grades 1 to 8, (5) social, life style and environmental competences, grades 1 to 8, and ICT (digital) competence. In school year 2007/08, the programme packages were successfully accredited, which means that any basic school can use them in the attainment of its pedagogical goals and discharge of its tasks.

Local curricula forming the compulsory part of schools’ teaching programmes constitute the third level of regulation. The local curriculum determines, in line with the tasks laid down in the school’s teaching programme, the framework curriculum selected by the school from the framework curricula issued by the minister responsible for education and stipulates the use of up to 10% of the time frame available for compulsory and optional curricular activities specified in the framework curriculum. Local curricula must meet the fundamental requirement of complying with the selected framework curriculum based on which they were prepared and they must organise the on average 10% free time frame provided for them with educational and teaching content and activities that reflect the local content and the school’s profile. The timely arrangement of requirements and curricula and the system of assigned tools fulfil the expectations and developmental plans of the traditional partners of the school, as laid down in its articles of association. Its local nature is ensured by gaining its legitimacy partly from the agreement of local stakeholders, the approving decision of the teaching staff, the supporting opinion of participants and partners, as well as the approving decision of the operator. A secondary, but nonetheless important characteristic of the local curriculum is that it also contains local cultural elements to a sufficient degree.

The principles relating to the selection of textbooks and teaching aids, the forms of realisation of uniformity and differentiation, as well as the principles applied in the assessment of students and their form of realisation must be included in the local curriculum.

Teaching Methods and Materials

Schools and teachers enjoy total freedom in respect of the methods applied in the process of teaching and education, and no central documents are used to set the scope of applicable procedures. However, the pedagogy programme of a school clearly defines the basic pedagogical principles, goals and tasks of teaching and educational work at school, as well as it designates appropriate tools and procedures therefor. Key legal instruments regulating public education give both methodological diversity and teaching & educational strategies focused on the development of competences high priority. The Act on Public Education provides, already from 2003, for an opportunity for changing traditional frameworks of organizing learning. Expectations as to content issues of the pedagogy programmes of schools include the following provision: “The pedagogy programme may organize the syllabus or part of it into thematic units, which focus on tasks of everyday life that can be planned and carried out by the students. The elaboration of the thematic units and the solution of the task are based on the interest of students, the joint activity and co-operation of students and educators by means of solving problems and revealing correlations (hereinafter called project teaching)” (Section 45 (5) of the Act on Public Education). Another relevant legislative phrase reads as follows: “the elaboration of new pedagogical methods, solutions and organisational forms and the promotion of their spread”. This provision, designated as a development-related task of the minister responsible for public education, is cited from Section 95 of the Act on Public Education.

In most primary schools, subject-based education takes place in the form of 45-minute curricular lessons. School curricula are organized into subjects; however, structuring of educational contents on an integrated or cross-curricular basis is still not typical.

The Constitution as well as the Act on Equal Opportunities and Act on Public Education sets a common legal framework for the co-education of students with special educational needs with mainstream students (integrated education) and talent cultivation. Nevertheless, development programmes focused around up-to-date professional priorities that schools and teachers can join through tenders exert a strong influence on what direction classroom practice would be shifted in. For example, the integrated education of students with special educational needs and, more recently, emphasizing the significance of talent cultivation have drawn attention to the importance of differentiated personal development. Although, the overwhelming majority of schools and teachers still intend to educate above-average students through organizing award-group education, often in extra-curricular lessons, the number of teachers applying the methodology of diagnose-based customized personal development or the adaptive approach to organizing learning, primarily linked to various development programmes, is on the increase. Thanks to former years’ major education development programmes dedicated to the practical implementation of competence-based education, teachers’ methodological repertoire has significantly widened. However, frontal teaching still dominates daily routines in the application of various methods. Amendment of the National Core Curriculum in 2007 has drawn the attention to the use of ICT in the learning of general education subjects. Prompted by the subsequent education development programmes and tool development projects implemented by the co-financing of EU, computer-aided learning is getting more and more common across the school system. As a concomitant requirement of tool development (typically procurement of interactive boards and provision of Internet access), these programmes have specified for teachers to take part in accredited further training courses on the use of ICT tools in the support of learning. Partly due to this, more and more schools have living and continuously updated websites and web2 technologies, mobile phones, digital cameras or dictaphones in the implementation of the new methodologies of organizing learning (project, epocha, thematic week, etc.) are used in an increasing number of schools. The use of electronic curricula is supported by a national online educational portal, Sulinet Digitális Tudásbázis (

The spectacular improvement in the use of ICT tools is not typical of the teaching of exact sciences (physics, biology, chemistry). These subjects are processed, in particular in primary school, in such a low number of lessons as there is hardly any time left for students’ experiments, and teachers’ demonstrations are also conducted within a narrowing time frame. Organizing of learning based on students’ personal activities (work in pairs or groups, thematic processing of the curriculum, project-like education and the use of drama pedagogy methodologies), the use of differentiating methods and out-of-school learning (e.g. open-air school) result in slow progress.

Textbooks are still the most common teaching aids with a rich choice available to teachers. They can choose from a range of 20 to 30 books on one subject in the lower grades and 10 to 20 on an average in higher grades of primary schools. The publishers of textbooks generally aim at bringing out branded textbook series of unified appearance printed according to similar editorial principles and the same methodology for each grade of a subject. Schools generally choose from such textbook series, in view of the principles laid down in their pedagogy programmes. Teachers teaching the same subject at a school generally use the same textbook series. In addition to the traditional textbooks, the publishers also come out with workbooks to help students learn with exercises designed for practice. Textbooks have had a permanently growing market in Hungary over the last 15 years, resulting in a widening choice, more aesthetic products and steeply increasing prices.

Act XXXVII of 2001 on the Rules of the Textbook Market provides that the supply of textbooks forms part of public duties, which promotes the right to education as is set out in the Constitution. The minister responsible for education ensures that the updated list of textbooks used in public education is published in every year. Only quality controlled (approved) textbooks not exceeding the annual price limit can be added to the list. The textbook declaration procedure primarily examines whether a book is suitable for teaching the syllabus content of the subject in compliance with the requirements of the National Core Curriculum and whether it guarantees the elaboration of the specialized branches of study at an appropriate level and in a scientific, authentic and objective manner and that knowledge is imparted with pedagogical methods suitable for the age groups affected. Books are assessed for scientific correctness, objectiveness, style and the use of language, reading hygiene compliance and technical design. In addition, the textbook declaration procedure may also cover the examination as to whether a textbook has proved to be suitable in everyday teaching practice in terms of teachability and learnability. The Committee on Textbook and Teaching Aids, a special committee of the National Public Education Council, the most authoritative expert body of the Hungarian public education, is responsible for laying down the relevant set of assessment criteria. On the basis of at least two independent experts’ opinion, the Educational Authority makes a proposal to the minister on the approval or refusal of textbooks (Decree No. 23/2004 (VII. 27.) OM on the Textbook Declaration Procedure, 3 Annex A). The price payable for an average school-yearly textbook package of a primary school (primary school) student equals 0.5 to 0.6 % of the gross annual average income but, due to significant means-based state subsidies, families have to pay only one half or one third thereof on an average. Textbooks are available to children with long-term illnesses, with special educational needs, as well as to children living in families with three or more offspring and students receiving regular childcare provision on a free-of-charge basis. A significant portion of the school-funding municipalities supplements state textbook subsidies. In a number of settlements, all children of school-entry age customarily receive free-of-charge textbooks and teaching aids, drawing on this financial framework.

In Hungary, teachers deem homework assigned to students and its regular assessment an important tool of effective learning. Accordingly, orals and short written tests are “obligatory” parts of lessons. However, from school year 2003/04, it is prohibited by the Act on Public Education to assign homework essays to 1 to 2 graders in the introductory stage of schooling for the weekends and school holidays.