MTA: Planned secondary education overhaul “harmful”

January 10, 2015


“The country does not need average academic high school students but good technicians.” – Viktor Orbán, Hungary’s prime minister, who has never held a job outside of politics.

“The planned (educational) reforms will deprive hundreds of thousands of families of material happiness and the possibility of fulfilling work.” – Hungarian Academy of Sciences

Those born in poverty in Hungary are almost certain to remain in poverty, according to a study prepared by the Hungarian Academy Of Sciences (MTA).

In autumn 2015 Orbán announced that from 2015 the emphasis of public education would be on technical education rather than on academic high school education.

The MTA study concludes that this planned change to intermediate education is extremely damaging. “The planned reforms will deprive hundreds of thousands of families of material happiness and the possibility of fulfilling work,” it concludes.

The study begins by demonstrating as false the assumptions underlying government plans to overhaul secondary education in Hungary.  For example, the study finds it is not true that after the system change in 1989 there was a decrease in intermediate technical training.  Furthermore, the study determines that it is easier to find a job with a degree from an academic high school than with technical educational credentials.  According to the study, Hungarian decision makers completely misunderstand the very technical training system they frequently cite as an example, such as Germany’s, where students receive significantly more in the way of general education, and which is much less rooted in physical labor of a technical nature.

According to the study, the government’s plan decreases social mobility, that is, the ability of someone born into poverty of escaping it through study and work.  According to the researchers’ calculations, if the capacity of academic high schools decreased 30 percent, then children from rich families would be three or four times more likely to graduate high school and eight times more likely to attend university than children from poor families.

The study finds that the planned changes to Hungary’s public secondary educational system do not guarantee work or material security at all.  In fact, in the long run they may cement those born into poverty remaining in poverty, while those born into affluent families will more readily be able to find well-paying jobs.

According to the study, Poland has succeeded in greatly reducing school dropout rates by extending the length of mandatory and technical education, raising teachers’ salaries and introducing the use of scientifically supported educational methodologies.   According to the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Hungary’s competitiveness will be seriously eroded if it does not move in a similar direction.