Minister in charge of public education Zoltán Balog should not be held accountable for the worst PISA test results since the OECD’s triennial educational survey began, because “he is not the one who poorly taught math classes to students” or “who filled out the test forms.” According to Minister Overseeing the Prime Minister’s Office János Lázár, Hungarian teachers are responsible for the dramatic decline in student performance.
Test results for 2015 released this week by the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) indicated that the scholastic performance of 15-year-old Hungarian students has been steadily declining since 2000. PISA assesses the extent to which students near the end of their compulsory education have acquired key knowledge and skills that are essential for full participation in modern societies. The historically poor results prompted criticism of the Hungarian government’s commitment to public education, in light of PISA finding that among 72 participating countries, only Mexico, Chile and Turkey spent less than Hungary on educating 6- to 15-year-olds in 2015.
“You don’t always have to scold the government,” Lázár said at this week’s government press conference, declaring that methodology and course content should be changed to remedy Hungary’s poor test results. The government has already provided the proper framework, he said, but it is not up to them to create content for that framework, but up to the teachers. (This contradicts teachers’ complaints that they have no autonomy to respond to the needs of students, and that the national curriculum is too detailed and doesn’t allow for the development of individual students’ abilities.)
Lázár has asked Minister of Human Resources Zoltán Balog to meet with educators’ representatives to discuss changes to course content.
The antagonistic position against teachers is not new from the Hungarian government. The nationalization of public schools has been widely criticized by the country’s educators as ill-conceived and badly executed.