Viktor Orbán on the success of his educational “reforms”

Viktor Orbán’s interviews, scheduled for every second Friday, usually portend some important announcements. The one held on February 4 began with this sentence by the reporter: “Let’s start with a domestic issue, specifically with the hottest one, education.” Indeed, it is an issue that might have far-reaching consequences for Fidesz’s long-term political future. Since that conversation took place, Mrs. Judit Czunyi, undersecretary responsible for public education, has been removed from her position, and all attempts at appeasing the restless teachers who have had enough of the humiliation they suffer at the hands of the government agency, the Klebelsberg School Maintenance Center (KLIK), have failed. It is also unlikely that the roundtable discussions initiated by the ministry of human resources will yield the kinds of results Zoltán Balog, the minister, was instructed by Viktor Orbán to achieve. The government hopes that with some minimal concessions and a promise of improvements in the functioning of KLIK the protesting voices can be silenced. Or at least this is what Viktor Orbán, who is the mastermind behind the overcentralized, conservative educational system introduced in 2010-2011, hopes. He is thoroughly satisfied with the current state of affairs, and he claims or pretends that the newly introduced system is a vast improvement over the former one.

Just as János Lázár’s statements on the size of Hungary’s public sector were full of untrue claims, Viktor Orbán’s assertions about the state of education in 2010 are equally unfounded. He made three claims: (1) “the Hungarian educational system was financially bankrupt, accumulating hundreds of billions of debt” prior to 2010; (2) “all international assessments showed that Hungarian children’s performance was continually deteriorating”; (3) since 2010 the government “has invested 700 billion forints in education,” which included 450 billion in development and the rest in raising salaries.

No one, not even the most critical opponent of the Orbán regime, maintains that all was well with Hungarian education before 2010, but today teachers as well as students would be happy if they could just return to those days. Critics were vocal then too, especially after 2008 when the government was forced to tighten its belt and education, like everything else, received less money than before. But let’s take a look at a graph that shows government expenditures on education in several countries in the region between 2004 and 2013. Hungary (red) currently spends the smallest percentage of its GDP on education. The decline in expenditures for the sector after 2010 is spectacular. Less and less money has been spent on education, and some of that most likely ended up in the pockets of swindlers hanging around Fidesz. It is enough to read about Árpád Hadházy’s (LMP) February 4 press conference, “Corruption Info,” in which he told details of the incredible corruption around European Union subsidies earmarked for education. The money spent on “development” that Orbán was talking about didn’t do much to improve the quality of Hungarian education.

Government expenditures on the countries of the region as percentage of the GDP

Government expenditures of the countries of the region as a percentage of GDP

I don’t know which international assessment of student performance Orbán had in mind when he talked about the steadily deteriorating student performance because there are several. I decided to take a look at the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), a worldwide study by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) of 15-year-old school children’s scholastic performance in mathematics, science, and reading. The first such survey was taken in 2000 and since then it has been repeated every three years. The last one is from 2012. Given the drop in Hungarian student achievement between 2009 and 2012, I dread the results of 2015, which will be released soon.

While in mathematics Hungarian students didn’t improve between 2000 and 2009 with a score hovering around 490, there was a slight improvement in science and a significant improvement in reading during the same period. In this last category in 2000 Hungarian students’ average was 480, but by 2009 it was 494. But then came 2012. Hungarian scores dropped in all three categories. In math from 490 to 477, in science from 503 to 494, in reading from 494 to 488. That meant that in math Hungary dropped from 29th to 39th place, for example. Hungarian students scored lower in all three categories than the mean scores. Moreover, they scored just a little lower than U.S. fifteen-year-olds. I bring this fact up because Hungarians like to think that their education is vastly superior to that of the despised Yankees.

If one takes a look at ministers of education appointed by Fidesz governments, one has the distinct feeling that education was not a priority for Viktor Orbán. Among the Fidesz holders of the office it is only Zoltán Pokorni (July 8, 1998-July 15, 2001) who is considered by everybody, even the socialists and the liberals, to have done a professional job. He started his career as a teacher and was one of the founding members of Pedagógusok Demokratikus Szakszervezete (PDSZ). But after he became chairman of Fidesz he resigned his post. The short tenure of his successor, József Pálinkás, was undistinguished. By 2010 Orbán found education and healthcare so unimportant that he abolished their separate ministries. The first minister of the new mega-ministry was a totally ineffectual medical professor. He was followed by Zoltán Balog, who had absolutely no experience with either education or healthcare. He is a Protestant minister.

The man who served longest as minister of education was Bálint Magyar (SZDSZ), who held the office twice. Once in the Horn government (January 1, 1996-July 8, 1998) and again in the Medgyessy-Gyurcsány government ( May 27, 2002-June 9, 2006). He was the one who began a thorough modernization of the whole system. Although at the time a lot of conservative teachers hated his reforms, today Piroska Galló, head of the Pedagógusok Szakszervezete (PSZ), admitted that it was during his tenure that the national curriculum came into being and emphasis was put on “competence development” instead of rote learning. The younger and more progressive teachers welcomed the new methods, but the older ones were unwilling and perhaps even unable to change their ways. A clearly conservative “educational expert” said the following about this period to Magyar Nemzet:  “During the former government the educational philosophy was liberal. One could choose from a lot of programs, which caused confusion….” Although it wasn’t compulsory, she herself, who worked as a teacher in a gymnasium at the time, “tried competence reinforcing teaching. This is not the only possible method, but it was successful.” Reluctantly, she had to admit that the improvements in reading had something to do with the “liberal” methods introduced by Bálint Magyar. He was also a great promoter of the use of computers in the classrooms, which again wasn’t exactly a hit with teachers who would have been forced to learn new skills.

In any case, after 2006, by which time the minister of education was István Hiller (MSZP), some of the more ambitious plans were scrapped because the government found the computerization of schools too expensive. In 2010 with the Fidesz victory everything came to a halt.

Yesterday on KlubRádió I heard a father who had just returned to Hungary from the United States. He himself is a computer scientist. He called his children’s school in a well-off suburb of Budapest “a computer museum.” Anyone who’s interested in hearing younger progressive teachers describing the situation in Hungarian schools should spend about twenty minutes listening to a discussion on Antónia Mészáros’s program on ATV last night. Perhaps after listening to the reasons for the present revolt we can better understand what the real problem is with Fidesz’s educational philosophy: it stripped the teachers of their independence and it tries to make children unthinking robots.

February 6, 2016
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Guest
I think that a genuine effort to dramatically lift education standards in Hungary would need to be a systematic, persistent and consistent process over at least two decades in terms of a national policy enjoying the support of all sides in parliament. It would need to start with a benchmarking survey which would pit performance by the Hungarian education system point by point against the best in the world. That would establish the gaps to be closed and the professional, technical and financial resources that would be needed to close them. This would then be compared to the resources available, which in turn would establish the time span over which the process would need to be applied. After that, the first step would be to dramatically lift the academic and human requirements on the educational institutions providing teacher training, which in Hungary include both universities and university colleges, as well as some other teacher training institutions, primarily of religious orientation. This means dramatically lifting the quality and standards of professors, lecturers and tutors responsible for teacher training, which would naturally have to also mean a significant improvement in their salaries and conditions. After that, the next step would have to… Read more »
webber
Guest

You are right on all points. You left out one thing – which I guess is implicit, though, in what you wrote: there will have to be a dramatic increase in wages in all spheres of education, from kindergarten teachers right up to university, to attract and keep good people.

Guest

@webber
Today 2:11 am

I refer you to the last part of para (sentence) 6 and the 4-6th line in para (sentence) 7.

webber
Guest

missed it! Thanks.

Guest

I wholeheartedly agree with every point you make!

LwiiH
Guest

You have to love all the pining for the good old day. It’s another story when those in responsible positions don’t recognize that the good old days weren’t all that good and at any rate, aren’t coming back. The entire system is out of step with how the world works today. And, I have no idea why any responsible parent with means would drop their child into it. The attitude towards use of computers in all aspects of education is at the heart of the problem. Very few of the teachers that I know are literate beyond knowing how to interact with Facebook and other like websites. And the computers that are in schools are exceptionally antiquated. Further more, use of a students own device is completely prohibited in some schools. This is a far cry from the schools were computers are completely and deeply integrated into the teaching workflow. Where students and teacher communicate and interact not only in the classroom but also online via all the means that have become normal today in any modern office environment. For example, teachers are able to, and do comment on students homework via document sharing.

Guest

@LwiiH
Today 1:18 am

I completely agree with your sentiments, though you are pointing (validly) to symptoms and possible short term fixes, rather than root causes.

Guest
OT While writing my above post on education, it occurred to me that given Hungary’s geo-strategically central position in East Central Europe on the crossing of the main North-South and East-West axes in Europe, and given the fact that these days it has little need if any for defense expenditures, Hungary could easily out-Israel Israel in high tech, high value-added products for export and rate of increase in living standards if only Hungarians had half a brain and a smidgen of genuine entrepreneurial up and go. But unfortunately for them, they haven’t got that, theough they do of course have plenty of thoroughly corrupt Balkan-type entrepreneurial spirit based in mafia-style looting, embezzling and fraud. Individually their meager brains are wasted on figuring how best to steal and loot, how to suck up to their (perceived) superiors, and how best to stab their peers in the back or to kick their perceived inferiors in the guts. Collectively they got no brains and even less entrepreneurial guts. And that, I would put, is their real tragedy, rather than Trianon. One thing is for sure. If the population of Hungary was Jewish, the country would enjoy the highest living standards in the world,… Read more »
webber
Guest

The last time I heard people talk about their country’s geo-strategic position and centrality to the world was in Serbia in the 1990s.
Camels and caravans no longer bring goods to Europe. Hungary now (and Serbia then) is central to exactly nothing.

LwiiH
Guest

agreed, but it could still could do something to provide better support for industries with much higher marginal values. Providing a stable business climate would be a great start. Taking a serious stance against corruption and cronyism would be a huge step forward also.

Guest

@LwiiH
Today 4:23 am

Yeah, but the key ingredient would still be missing: smarts, integrity and guts.

Without these, Hungarians would still be just p@$$ing in the wind.

Guest

Not quite. Use your imagination.

Not only is Hungary located in a central position in East Central Europe, but is roughly equidistant from Western Europe and the Russians, and from Scandinavia and the Levant.

It could easily become a commercial and banking hub for that entire region from Scandinavia down to the Levant, and from France across to Russia, a warehousing and distribution center for trade in all four directions by road, rail and air transport, as well as a center for innovation, high-tech and the production for export of high value-added products that would vie not just with Israel, but with Silicon Valley itself.

Trust me, if we Jews were the population there, all of this would be achieved in Hungary without fail, on a fairly short order, particularly as we would not only have the necessary smarts, but also easy access to Jewish networks and capital right across the world.

webber
Guest

Sorry, but I remain sceptical.
To start with, you need a vibrant local economy not dependent on foreign aid (in Hungary that is hidden as EU payments).
When did Hungary ever have anything resembling that? Since, roughly, 1526 it hasn’t been close.

I recall Demszky claiming the Budapest would soon be the hub of everything. Well, it never happened. Vienna is still vastly more important. Warsaw is more important.

I maintain that this “equidistant” idea is nonsense. Almost any country is “central” if you re-focus. Your boundaries are just arbitrary. Serbia is “central” if you take different starting points *look more at the Med). So is the Czech Republic. So is Poland, with different starting points.
From the point of view of Atlantic trade, Portugal is central. If you think Mediterranean, Italy is central.
And are any of these countries world beaters?
No (Italy was, when caravans mattered).

webber
Guest

P.S. WHY would banking choose Budapest over Vienna??
All things remaining equal, for business Vienna wins every time.

Guest
@webber Today 6:19 am You keep missing the point. I am putting forward a counterfactual, a “what if” that has absolutely nothing to do with either currently prevailing or historical circumstances in Hungary. The closest historical circumstance would have been the half a century of Dual Monarchy before WW1, when the Jews of Hungary were invited by the then Hungarian leadership to turn a badly retarded feudal land into something approaching a half-modern country, and they most certainly delivered on that. Then they well and truly got it in the neck for that from a grateful Hungarian nation. As they say, no good deed goes unpunished. But I am talking about what the situation could and most certainly would be if Hungary had a fully Jewish population. I can assure you that us Jews would run circles around banking in Vienna, and would make Hungary a wealthy commercial hub second to none. With Jewish smarts, integrity, guts, imagination and energy, this would be no big deal. The end of the day, the geographical location of Hungary would be just a nice extra, as Jewish people could, and most certainly would make a success in any location, be it even on… Read more »
webber
Guest

Balint, that kind of feeds into the other discussion going on here – education. As in, for cultural reasons many Jews seem to know how much education matters.
There’s no question that Hungary could be a more prosperous place if the Holocaust had not happened.
But you will be the first to acknowledge, I am sure, that there are very prosperous countries with relatively far fewer Jews than Hungary has (The Netherlands; Luxembourg; Austria; Finland; Japan; Switzerland).
Anyway, could Jews make Budapest more prosperous than Vienna before 1920 (numerus clausus)? No. So, maybe something else is going on here – something to do with Hungary.
% of Jews in population here – bottom chart
https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/jewpop.html

webber
Guest

P.S. How did I “miss the point”? You brought up geography and Hungary’s central position. I said I thought that was wrong, and said why – one can arbitrarily claim a lot of countries are at the center.
As long as the earth is round, there is no center.

Guest
@webber Today 4:25 am I was merely playing out a counterfactual “what if” involving a scenario in which the entire population of Hungary was Jewish. I am fully familiar with the mighty contributions the small Jewish minority made to modernizing Hungary in the half a century prior to WW1. I intimately know the magnificient little country that Jews in Israel created out of absolutely nothing over the past half a century whist under continuous murderous siege by their Arab adversaries. And I am overawed by the enormous contributions that Jews made in the US in every field of endeavor – far, far beyond their actual numbers in the population – and likewise in Australia. I merely extrapolated from that to what could be the case if Hungary was populated entirely by Jews, rather than non-Jewish Hungarians. And there wasn’t the least implication in what I wrote that would disparage or minimize in any way the social virtues and commercial prosperity of people in successful West European countries. That is non sequitur to what I was saying, an irrelevance that has nothing to do with the price of rice. You don’t seem to get it that this entire exercise was just… Read more »
webber
Guest

But I did get it. I engaged with your geo-political fantasies, so you changed the topic to Jews, and so I engaged with that too. Change the topic all you want, but while you’re at it please change the word “idle” in your last sentence to “futile” and we will agree.

petofi
Guest

@Ambalint

And…I might add…jews work together and look at the long term. They don’t look for the quick profit and ‘finis’. They’ll look to groom the business.

Guest

Spot on again, ambilant!

Guest

Mike, the crazy thing is that what you described right now started to happen – in the Socialist regime in the 80s (or even late 70s)!

I remember very well the talks I had in my courses with some Hungarians and also an American who started a company that employed Hungarian programmers in Budapest to write software for German companies – similar to what has been happening lately in India.

I didn’t follow his success however, just read somewhere that later he moved his company to Austria – so the whole thing was aborted maybe, but why?

They had a good start …

Guest

wolfi7777
Your remark regarding the Socialist regime in the 80s (or even late 70s)!\” has me confused. Why is the commnist era called a Socialist one?

In England, right now, there is socialism and, even under a conservative government, it bears no relation to the communist dictatorship in Hungary and elsewhere during the Cold War.

Referring to the horrific communist era as Socialist, instantly creates by association antipathy to the Fidesz opposition.

I have repeatedly heard simple-minded voters say they only vote Fidesz because they are not communists.

If there is a continuing confusion between Communism and Socialism, and misnaming one or the other, Fidesz opposition will continue to lose voters.

Guest

Capitalism = 100% private ownership
Socialism = 50% private ownership
Communism = 0% private ownership.

Give or take a dictator or two.

Guest

Warning! These all have a completely different meaning in Hungary….

As do

Liberal

As do

Illiberal

As do

‘bankers’

As do

‘Foreigners’

As do………blah blah blah

Guest

@charliecharlieh
February 7, 2016 7:55 am

You are right.

In Hungary “liberal” and “banker” primarily mean “dirty Jew,” as does in many context “foreigner,” too.

These are all just various descriptors of what Hungarians deem “idegenlelkű” or persons of a repulsively alien mentality – alien, that is, to the favoured Christian Nationalist or National Socialist, i.e. “illiberal” mentality of the overwhelming majority of the brainwashed Hungarian electorate.

By implication, of course, “illiberal” among Hungarians would also mean a “tősgyökeres” or true-born, and therefore reliably antisemitic, anti-roma and anti-foreigner “good” type of Hungarian.

Aren’t I lucky that I don’t have to live among them . . . . .

Guest
@charliecharlieh February 7, 2016 7:52 am Well, not quite, charliecharlie. Capitalism is not a matter of private ownership, but simply an economic system aimed at accumulating and investing capital (hopefully profitably). Capital as such may accumulate and be invested in private hands or in the hands of the state, as in so-called communist countries. Capitalism today, as we tend to glibly refer to it, is in fact a system of more or less social democratic mixed economies, with private ownership where deemed appropriate, and public ownership where deemed necessary by the respective electorates. Capitalism operates by force of attraction, rather than by the force of coercion characterizing the modus operandi of socialism and communism. In the West, socialism tended to remain an ideology only among the fellow travelers of communists and on the more dogmatic and coercive fringes of the social democrats. In the East, socialism was defined by the communists as the preliminary stage of communism. In practice, it was a dictatorial system of state capitalism, which however retained vestiges of private ownership, particularly in Hungary of Kádár’s “gulyás communism.” Communism always remained and remains to this day only an ideal among far-left extremists of dictatorial proclivities, who were… Read more »
Guest

As I see it (and some people in the Communist party did too …) Communism is the ideal society where you don’t have to work, everything is free …

A bit OT:
There appeared a book in the middle 80s, written by an economics professor in East Germany and good friend of Honecker which claimed that the Socialist countries would in 25 years have real Communism i e a kind of paradise …

Guest

But I thought – in communism – the people pretend to work whilst the government pretends to pay!

petofi
Guest

“…if only Hungarians had half a brain and a smidgen of genuine entrepreneurial up and go.”

The real problem is bone-marrow deep belief in thieving and ripping off one another.

Example:
Rubik didn’t have a his cube manufactured in Hungary. My guess is that he felt he would’ve been ripped off–right away, or later in the accounting, or wherever. He went to England to produce the cube, and has done very well with it.

webber
Guest

For those who speak Hungarian, this interview gives a fantastic overview of misappropriation of funds at a massive level in education reform:
http://www.atv.hu/videok/video-20160204-hadh

Jon Van Til
Guest

I suspect that the ruler has intentionally designed an educational policy that regulates output along the following lines:

–Just enough smart well-educated graduates to find employment in the world of business.
–Just enough docile but sufficiently savvy persons to fill the bureaucratic needs of state and party offices.
–Just enough critical thinkers to face unemployment in Hungary and the need to migrate to the West.
–The rest to know how to do simple computer entries, to do hard manual work where required, to enjoy the state television channels from their couches, to produce more than enough babies, to follow orders, and not to ask too many questions.

webber
Guest

If the interview above is right (it was a revelation to me) there is no intention whatsoever in Fidesz’s educational policy, other than the intent to get as much money out of the “reforms” as possible. If the interview is right, the government didn’t really care about outcomes, it just wanted to milk the EU for “educational reforms”, and absolutely anything went as long as money could be gotten out of the process. There was no overall planning whatsoever, no diabolical planning, other than the plan to embezzle a lot and quickly.

Guest

Through its distribution of enormous subsidies EU creates widespread corruption in Europe. In Hungary with fatal consequences. The big crooks always find the places where the big money is.

Guest
Absolutely! Considering how this problem has festered in the country for the longest while, there can be no doubt that this is a government that is directly inimical to the educational development of all Magyars and their relationship to its institutions. For a country which is always arguing \’uniqueness\’ in its DNA I would suggest that if Hungary and the Finns are supposed \’cousins\’ the latter is now bounding high and away from the former in quality of life , liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Why? Those in the trenches took the time to understand the role of education in their society and worked hard to develop it. And it helped that the government wasn\’t an enemy in its formulation. It was an accommodating partner. Regarding Mike\’s post on what needs to be done in Hungary in the education area is great as far as ideals. But one thing I\’ll suggest though is that in that case Hungary will get nowhere if the government continually is at odds in the \’confrontation\’ we see. Thing is individuals like Orban were smart enough to get an education. He got through to see his potential. Lucky for him. But what of the… Read more »
Istvan
Guest
ambalint lays out a very rational process for improving education in Hungary, but how does this fit into the world market, and the European market? As much as many dislike the idea education is a commodity under capitalism. The Hungarian, Polish, and Russian elites are able to procure a good education for their children even if it is a boarding school in Switzerland ( see http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/11369567/Inside-the-most-expensive-boarding-school-in-the-world.html ) In 2009 Ken Roberts wrote a very interesting book titled Youth in Transition: Eastern Europe and the West. In it he discussed the allure of education in the west for the rising social elites in Central Europe. Robert essentially predicted many of the current realities of Central European education. A high powered public educational system does not necessarily yield a high powered economy, Finland is the classic example. Finland by most measurements has the very best primary and secondary educational system in the world and pays up for that privilege in taxes. But this high level of education has not spared its economy from decline see http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/apr/15/finland-boom-election-recession-oulu-miracle-timber-nokia or http://www.helsinkitimes.fi/finland/finland-news/domestic/13657-finnish-economy-is-still-paralysed.html or http://www.weforum.org/agenda/2015/07/whats-happening-to-finland-economy/ As most of us in the USA know, but will not generally admit, we have a multiple tiered educational system driven heavily… Read more »
Guest

Istvan, you shouldn’t forget that the USA also has profited and still is profiting a lot from the gigantic “brain drain” – how many intellectual and economic giants are immigrants or the children of immigrants?

And among the best specialists everywhere too there are many immigrants …

Guest

@wolfi7777
February 7, 2016 10:29 am

Yes, and historically speaking, most people in the world would always have given a year of their lives just to be allowed to swim to the States.

One has to ask why was (and still largely is) that so? And why just to the States and to just about nowhere else?

These days we often hear America reviled and about the stagnant real income levels of the vast lower middle class in America over the past four decades.

But if it is so bad, then how come it still is so attractive to so many who would just love to become Americans?

I think that the American dream still continues to inspire people, the firm belief that however tough it might be at the beginning and throughout the struggle toward success, they can still make it over there in the end.

And the inspiration of the image of the shining city on the hill, the New Jerusalem, a beacon of freedom and hope for mankind everywhere, however tarnished it might become from time to time.

Guest

And one more thing.

Americans are the greatest story tellers and image makers in the history of humanity.

After all, that is what Hollywood, the advertising industry, American media and the publishing industry are all about.

The glittering, shimmering images of the American dream, of the shining city on the hill and of Manifest Destiny are all very much a part of that.

The truth content is irrelevant, what counts is the inspiration, the emotions and desires evoked.

The story of a rare success in America counts for infinitely more than stories of a million failures.

Perception is all.

Guest

A bit OT:
You’re right – that’s why I took my wife on several holidays to the States.
Can you imagine how she felt standing on Times Square or in the Kennedy Space Center after having spent her first 40 years in “Communist Hungary” and the 20 years in “Capitalist Hungary”?
Yes, she was already over 60 years when we met – and she#s such a wonderful woman – wish all Hungarians were like her!

Guest
Re: \’I think that the American dream still continues to inspire people, the firm belief that however tough it might be at the beginning and throughout the struggle toward success, they can still make it over there in the end. And the inspiration of the image of the shining city on the hill, the New Jerusalem, a beacon of freedom and hope for mankind everywhere, however tarnished it might become from time to time\’ Considering the shots America has been getting in the global sphere, it is good to see comments and the particular experiences in NY noted above. In a way when I think about it I am an embodiment of all that with my family background from Magyarorszag. I think my parents came for the \’ American Dream\’ as well as knowing they could help back home. It was difficult no doubt about that. But the nevertheless they persevered and passed much on to me especially education. Without it one can be a bit crippled in many ways. I learned much in their immigrant trials in the \’concrete outback\’ here in the States. The \’city on the hill\’ literally worked for me. I received a \’free\’ university education.… Read more »
webber
Guest

Istvan:
I don’t know what you imagine the Hungarian educational system is like now. It’s nothing like it once was. Not even remotely like it. Hungary today has an educational system that, in terms of social stratification and invisible ceilings, is at least as bad as, if not worse than that of the US. So I don’t see why you made your comments, above.
I certainly don’t understand why you say Hungarians “need to recognize” this or that. They recognize the failings in their system. That is enough.
Note, too, that quite a lot of Hungarians aren’t interested in an egalitarian system. They want a system that fosters talent. And regardless of how they feel about egalitarianism, every Hungarian I know wants the country to have top universities, and top scholars.
This Hungarian system is failing on this measure – horribly .

webber
Guest

Hungarian universities as ranked by Webometrics
ELTE is ranked in 356th place worldwide, BME 395th place, Szeged 485th place, Debrecen 591st place, Pécs 880th place.

Academic Ranking of World Universities (China)
ELTE and Szeged in place 401-500. None of the rest made the top 500. ELTE fell since the last ranking, when it was ranked 301-400).

Times Higher Education Index rankings
Semmelweis 501-600 place.
BME, ELTE, Debrecen, Pécs, and Szeged 601-800

István, if you were living in Hungary, would you be satisfied to know that the best university your child could possibly attend isn’t as good as a second-tier American university?
To get your child in a decent school, you’d have to send her out of Hungary.

Guest

Re: ‘Note, too, that quite a lot of Hungarians aren’t interested in an egalitarian system. They want a system that fosters talent. And regardless of how they feel about egalitarianism, every Hungarian I know wants the country to have top universities, and top scholars.
This Hungarian system is failing on this measure –horribly’

Perhaps your best and brightest should come here. Saw some data in the NY Times today.

Median earnings 10 years after matriculation from ‘best value’ schools such as MIT is about $ 92,000 and the net price of that for low income students is about $7,000. Not bad for an ROI. Graduates of Duke: About $77,000 with a price of $6,280. Of course these are top schools but nevertheless the opportunity is there. Just too bad Hungary appears not to make the ‘investments’ necessary for opportunities.

Guest

hmmm… Is there anything going well in the education front in Hungary?

Guest

@Istvan
Today 9:54 am

Istvan, I never claimed that an excellent education system would be a guarantee of either prosperity or equality.

As to prosperity, an excellent education system is a necessary, but not sufficient condition. Clearly, there are factors, such as smarts, integrity, guts, imagination and energy that would be very hard if not impossible to “teach” or “learn” in the way conventional subjects are taught and learned in an education system. Then there are regulatory factors, which need to have a light touch, avoiding either under-regulation or over-regulation, as either can kill off prosperity. And lastly, there need to be many social supporting factors, such as failure being widely seen as merely a learning opportunity on the way to success, rather than some crushing and irretrievable disaster.

Regarding equality, we should most certainly strive to ensure equality of opportunity for all new entrants into the education system. But there can never be equality of outcomes, because some people are smart, sharp and intelligent, others are not, and the end of the day relentless competition and selection is at the heart of any successful education system, including the Finnish.

Guest

London Calling!

Just a little O/T!

The contributers on here post from many country’s outside Hungary.

Not so many from the UK.

However the British Press is so often referenced by everybody – disproportionately from the English-speaking world when you compare where the contributors come from.

I would also posit the ‘Guardian’ is high among them as are the Economist and the FT.

Is this because the British press is excellent?

Or is it because the British press is dreadful?

Why don’t you quote your own country’s examples for diversity – and leave the British press for us indegenes? (!)

I can read our press any day – what’s not so available is foreign quality press here.

(If there is any that is!)

Regards

Charlie

Guest

Charlie, I’d like to quote the German media here – we have good papers and magazines like FAZ and SPIEGEL but:
Who can read them here?
Is your German good enough?

Guest

I take your point – but I did narrow it down to the English-speaking countries like Canada, USA et al.

I almost believe that the German publications form a more responsible press in Germany compared with the UK.

And on the occasions when you post German press links – Google seems to do a good job (Hungarian is almost worse for me than the native language!) – they are very interesting (if the translation is pukka – I’m not in a position to say).

So carry on carrying on!

Your interpretations are always welcome – Google translate is second best!

Observer
Guest

Charlie,
We are corralled in the largest language paddock there is, lucky us.

65% of the Hungarians don’t know any other language, the worst in Europe.
I suspect 90% don’t know any language WELL enough to usefully read. http://mandiner.hu/cikk/20131009_rajcsanyi_gellert_nyelvtudas_tenyleg_ennyire_hulyek_a_magyarok

I speak several languages, but not German, but I am still using only Eng and Hungarian, rarely Russian.

Guest

Yes – well said!

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