OECD’s “Education at a glance, 2016”: An indictment of the Orbán regime

Upon checking the more than 3,000 posts that have appeared on Hungarian Spectrum, I realized that this is the first time I’ve covered the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development/OECD’s annual publication, “Education at a Glance.” It is a massive volume of over 500 pages with data from 35 OECD countries.

From this latest “glance” it is evident that the Hungarian government has been shortchanging education. Although I know that the amount of money spent on education doesn’t necessarily correlate with the educational attainment of students, it is still worth noting that only Mexico and Turkey spend less money per student than Hungary does.

Since 2006 Hungary has been spending less and less money on education, both in real terms and as a percentage of the GDP. Austerity measures after 2008 affected the spending of all European countries on education, but the Hungarian cutbacks were the steepest, even in comparison to other countries in the region. In 2013, the last year for which we have data, Hungary spent only 76% of what it did in 2008. It is true that the number of students, due to the low birthrate and emigration, also decreased, but in 2013 the government spent only 82% per student of what had been spent in 2008. Both the EU22 and the OECD countries taken together have increased educational spending. Looking at it another way, in the countries of the OECD students spend an average of 13.1 years in school and, over this time, governments spend on average $121,899 per student. That figure in Hungary is $57,093.

Here are some basic facts about the economic situation after the 2008 economic crisis. Between 2008 and 2010 GDP decreased, in real terms, in 22 of the 44 countries with available data while public expenditure on educational institutions fell in only 6 of the 31 countries with available data, Hungary being one of them. As of 2013 Hungary’s spending on education as a percentage of GDP was a mere 3.8%, just ahead of last-place Russia, as opposed to the OECD average of 5.2%. These figures also include expenditures from private sources. The government’s contribution was only slightly above 3%. Table after table attest to the fact that Hungary is among the few countries where very little money is spent on education and what is spent most likely is not spent effectively. For example, for tertiary education, Hungary spends a fair amount of money, yet Hungarian universities are not judged to be of exceptionally high quality.

public-and-private

Hungarian teachers get paid on average around $25,000, as opposed to western European countries of about $50,000. Teachers’ salaries in the first four grades are even lower than that, under $20,000, which puts Hungary at the end of the list, alongside Slovakia and Brazil. In Hungary the starting salary for pre-school teachers is $13,228, which 10 years later is $17,858, and fifteen years later $19,181. One could continue with sad statistic after sad statistic.

The Hungarian media spent little time on this report. Árpád W. Tóth wrote one of his clever op-ed pieces titled “As if there were no tomorrow,” decrying the shortsightedness of the Orbán government for not wanting to understand that Hungary has no natural resources and therefore must rely on its human resources as the foundation of a better, more prosperous society. And yet Viktor Orbán ever since 2010 has been cutting back on spending for education. In addition, with his experimentation with teaching methodologies and concepts he is ruining the little that was good in the system. Billions are spent on useless stadiums, billions are stolen by favorite oligarchs, billions of public money end up in “private foundations,” billions are spent on “racist billboards.” Little goes for education. It is simply not a priority.

The government propaganda media was naturally rather quiet on the subject of the OECD’s report. They limited their coverage to reporting on a press conference that László Palkovics, the undersecretary of education, gave.

Palkovics, it should be noted, is the perfect man to finish the butcher job on Hungarian education that was conceived in Viktor Orbán’s mind and begun under Christian Democrat Rózsa Hoffmann, the schoolmarm from the 70s of the Kádár era. The fast-talking new undersecretary, a transport engineer by profession, is a man of action for whom there are no obstacles. Everything is simple. Everything can be done practically overnight. A new subject is being introduced in September and there is no textbook. No problem, it will be solved. I understand that Orbán is extremely satisfied with him.

But however self-confident Palkovics is, after looking through the hundreds of tables in OECD’s study he must have realized that these results are devastating. They are an indictment of Hungary’s commitment to education, which somehow must be papered over in a great hurry. Hence the press conference, which was dutifully reported by MTI and published in Magyar Idők and Magyar Hírlap. The headline in the latter was “Palkovics: Improving results in education,” followed by “Hungary spends more than the OECD average on the education of very small children, the salaries of teachers have improved and the earning power of university graduates is higher [in comparison to non-grads] than the OECD average.” I’m sure that he (or more likely one of his staffers) had to look high and low to find a few items in which Hungary was above the OECD average. I myself had no time to study the hundreds of tables, but I have the feeling that Palkovics cited the only three positive results that appeared in 500 pages.

In addition, he pointed to all the improvements that have been introduced. Numbers were flying every which way, numbers that cannot be verified and that were probably introduced only to obfuscate the issue. But nowhere did he say that the Hungarian government will spend more than 3.8% of the GDP on education either this year or the next. Instead, he talked about cheaper or free textbooks for poor students, proudly adding that Hungary spends 4.7% of the GDP on family assistance whereas the OECD average is only 2.5%. He also announced that the Hungarian government spent 0.7% of GDP on kindergartens as opposed to the OECD’s average of 0.6%. Pitiful, I must say.

As long as the Orbán government is in power and the likes of László Palkovics run the show, there can be no improvement. But every wasted year will have a lasting effect on the generation now coming of age, with a devastating effect on the future of the country.

September 20, 2016
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webber
Guest
What Palkovics does not mention is that parents still have to buy basic supplies for teachers – chalk, paper, pens for whiteboards, kleenex for the kids etc. This year, in the school I know best, the teachers had no paper whatsoever until parents brought some. Parents voluntarily paint classrooms and toilets that need painting, and make or purchase big things like cupboards when needed. Occasionally the Ministry sends funds for basic supplies, but it is never enough, and it always comes late. Food served in schools is so awful, that many students prefer to go hungry. Toilets can be so foul that many kids hold back rather than use the one at school. School books in a school I know became more expensive after Fidesz ended the free-market in textbooks. The book packet cost about 2,000 forints more the first year after they did that. It may not sound like much, but for Hungarians on low salaries it is significant. (for many Americans, the fact that Hungarian parents pay for books will come as a surprise – in many states books are free, provided by the state). Computers in schools are restricted to a few places: the teachers’ room and… Read more »
Guest

Not too much OT re food for schools:

Every time my wife goes to the post ofice here in the village she returns really angry – there is almost no room in the post office for customers to move because the space is filled with displays of sweets and drinks like coke which the children come to get instead of school lunch …

This extra business for the post office seems very important and lucrative – I don’t know if this goes through the official books or is a kind of private venture …

And now we’ll have Zoli explain the logic of education financing in Hungary – or not?

Guest

Forgot:
We might have a discussion whether these sweets and drinks (full of HFCS aka corn syrup) are healthier than the school lunch – looking at all those obese children I have my doubts …
Remember Hungarians use al most as much (or maybe even more) HFCS than the USA – horrible!

webber
Guest

According to one survey, 27.6% of adult Hungarians are obese. In Europe, only Czechs are more likely to be obese than Hungarians – 32.7% (US avg. is 33%).
This is just going to get worse as the latest generation of Hungarian children raised on fizzy drinks reaches adulthood.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/maps-and-graphics/the-most-obese-fattest-countries-in-the-world/

Guest

Thanks for reminding us, webber!

Here’s the source – the CIA (!) book of facts which has a lot of interesting and sometimes disturbing info:
https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/rankorder/2228rank.html

tappanch
Guest

The Hungarian government will cancel several (around 40) programs at university level from September 2017.

Among others, Hungarians students cannot study at public universities from next year:

“Financial, economical and mathematical analysis”

(but Matolcsy has advertised to train “journalists” to explain the his/Orban’s economic policies to the public.)

“public service” (it will be taught only at the “Fidesz-party university” founded by Orban, whose president is also the chairman of the National Election Commission)

http://eduline.hu/erettsegi_felveteli/2016/9/21/Megszuntetnek_tobb_tucat_szakot_hiaba_keres_3LS6A7

tappanch
Guest

Further cancelled programs country-wide:

Politology, social science, cultural anthropology, several agricultural programs, etc.

webber
Guest

Unless I’m reading the article wrong, “politológia” is not being completely eliminated, but will continue under the name political science (politikatudomány) – and that is really weird. Up till now, the two words politológia and politikatudomány have been considered synonyms in Hungarian. Both mean political science, and there are departments with one name and others with the other.

For instance, ELTE offers a BA in politológia (the institute is Politikatudományi Intézet), while Debrecen Univ. offers a BA in politikatudomány.

Can anyone explain what’s going on here? Is there a “politológia” program somewhere that they want to close, or has someone just decided that all these programs should have the same name?

Guest

In univerisites in Hungary lecturers now have short contracts, which means that come the summer holidays, the school or college does not have to pay out any more wages.

One of the attractions of even low-paid teaching jobs is precisely the fact that wages are paid even during holidays, but Orbán prefers to spend his loot on useless toy trains so many teachers are now thrown out of work at the end of the school year, and new ones suddenly hired, at the last moment, when term starts again, and the pattern repeats itself every summer.

It would be interesting to see the figures about the savings in the nation’s coffers, by this brutal mode of hiring and firing, put in place in order to save money, and ultimately, to make more money for Orbán and co. Called by any other name, it is still just another scam, at the expense of the future generations, by a mafia state.

Guest
Re: ‘As long as the Orbán government is in power and the likes of László Palkovics run the show, there can be no improvement. But every wasted year will have a lasting effect on the generation now coming of age, with a devastating effect on the future of the country’ I am pained to read this indictment of the education ministers of the country. This is a continuing headlong crash of what future generations will have to deal with as they will navigate life in their country and around the globe … if they manage to get that far. The world of work has changed immensely in the past few decades. The tech revolution coupled with development of mass amounts of information has challenged all the existing ways people have coped with their day to day lives. The future is ‘knowledge’ work not the one of accumulating it simply by rote. It requires thinking, analyzing and having the skills to use concepts to modify environments to effect change and behavior. This also requires individuals to be continually active in their educational development since events take place at a rapid rate as well as the skills needed. The current education ministers… Read more »
tappanch
Guest

Varhegyi (fidesznik close to Orban, who was convicted for embezzlement years

ago), illegal eavesdropping and overbilling at the state television.

http://444.hu/2016/09/21/varhegyi-attila-hasznalta-a-kozmedia-lehallgatott-szobait

tappanch
Guest
tappanch
Guest

The Hungarian government has already spent more than 5 billion forints on “professional advice” about the 2014 olympic bid .

http://mno.hu/belfold/tovabb-omlik-a-penz-a-budapesti-olimpiara-1362604

tappanch
Guest

Statistical Office, KSH estimates that there were 330,000 Hungarians living in Western Europe at the beginning of 2014.

Germany: 38%
UK: 23%
Austria: 14%

All others: 25%

Men make up 62% of the Hungarian emigrants in Germany, but only 28% in Italy.

http://mno.hu/belfold/a-diplomasok-csaladostul-hagyjak-el-az-orszagot-1362603

Istvan
Guest
The declining fortunes of Hungarian publicly financed education pose no problem for the most wealthy oligarchs from Hungary or their equally corrupt associates in Russia and elsewhere in Central Europe. They can send their children to boarding schools like the Institut Le Rosey in village of Rolle, Switzerland which is reportedly the most expensive school in the world, there are several Hungarian children attending from reports I have read. For those on the inside of the Mafia State with a weaker cash flow there are also the international schools in Budapest that cost between 200,000 and 600,000 HUF per month, The American International School of Budapest (AISB) has a 20% Hungarian national enrollment, is actually located in Nagykovácsi. It has extensive facilities on a 13.1 hectare site. It has three soccer fields, a six-lane athletics track, a swimming pool, a theatre, a black box, several science labs, art rooms, music rooms, drama and dance areas. (Here are the fees for this school in US dollars https://www.aisb.hu/en/school-fees/ ). Eva the quality of education for those on the inside of the Hungarian Mafia state can be excellent, could that possibly explain the poor state of many Hungarian publicly funded schools? Could it… Read more »
Guest

OT Rome’s new mayor set to pull plug on 2024 Olympics bid

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-italy-olympics-rome-idUSKCN11R0KO

Guest

“People who want to get rich by spreading cement over our country can go to hell.”

Same reference.

pappp
Guest

OT: about polls conducted recently.

More and more people see things going in the right direction and less and less in the wrong direction.

People are more and more satisfied strange as this sounds.

And it seems, given the trend, soon more people will be satisfied than be dissatified (even voters of MSZP, Jobbik and LMP are happier).

This is a clear threat to any political challenger. Why trust a new government when finally things are a bit better (salaries are higher etc.)?

http://hvg.hu/itthon/201639_kampanyimmunitas

webber
Guest

Pappp, you are mad.
The majority say things are going in the wrong direction
http://img4.hvg.hu/image.aspx?id=5fcebaaa-6263-4566-95d2-2003202c76e4&view=b2dea50f-cee1-4f6e-b810-034566fbfb2e

webber
Guest

for those who don’t speak Hungarian – the red line on the chart above is the percentage of those who think things are going badly. It is more than 50% of the populace. My guess is that the figure should be even higher than that, but (as I keep saying) people are lying to pollsters these days, because they are afraid they are collecting information for the Party (and there are such fake Fidesznik pollsters – I know for a certainty from inside sources).

pappp
Guest

Yes, as I said it, the majority still says so, but that majority has been diminishing clearly. The trend is clear. As we say in Hungarian the scissors are closing and if the trends continue in three months more people will be satisfied. It would be quite shocking to me.

In any case a six percent point jump (in those who say thing go in the right direction) on last month is statistically significant.

After the internet tax issue in late 2014, when the opinions were very bad, things apparently have been improving.

My hunch is that the migrant issue works in the short term (crowding out other concerns, which are no part of the new normal like bringing paper to the school for teachers) and the long term trend is that salaries are higher, there is indeed demand for Hungarian workers, they spend more and decreased indebtedness. As 600,000 people left now there is a lack of able workers (who can at least show up) even with dismal investment figures and it shows in salaries.

webber
Guest

No, you DID NOT say the majority says things are going in the wrong direction!
I have to agree with Steven H – you NEVER point to the side of data that is unfavorable to Fidesz in your posts. You may admit that when someone points it out to you – but you never start with it.

pappp
Guest

Please stop this. I quote:

“And it seems, given the trend, soon more people will be satisfied than be dissatified.”

This means that at this point less people are satisfied, they are still in the minority – but soon, if the trends continue, they will be in the majority. They cannot at this point be in the majority if I said they can be in the majority only in the future if the trends continue, can they? And if they are not, they are in the minority.

My point was the (to me) surprising trend and the surprisingly close numbers now. These are the news worthy tidbits. I would’ve thought that the difference is big because this is how we feel it in Budapest, but surprisingly the difference is small and is getting steadily smaller. That must be explained for which I offered my guesses.

I would be very happy to see really bad empirical data on Fidesz, but compared to hope I see (relatively) favorable ones. You can say that people lie to pollsters but the trend is clear (in this graph) and one has to assume people also lied earlier so the methodology is constant.

Guest

Of course – Hungarians are stupid, they’re happy with the breadcrumbs thrown at them by Fidesz! Nobody cares about corruption – it’s the Hungarian way of life, n’est ce pas?
Is that what you are trying to tell us?

And of course things like freedom of speech and other democratic values don’t count in the Balkan, that’s for sure. Nobody needs them …

Just read this piece by Tom Popper, the “former” editor of BBJ:
http://mediapowermonitor.com/content/subtly-silenced-hungarian-government

pappp
Guest
wolfi, why are doing this? Nobody said that it is so – but we have to account for this new data. At least I tried to come up with some ideas. Orban is hated in Budapest by a majority but the picture is apparently more complex. Outside of Budapest probably less so. The employment situation is better than it was years ago since more than half a million able people left the market which in turn means increased salaries. You can now make over HUF 300k as a cashier at Aldi (anout 3 times as a nurse) or 250k as an árufeltöltő at Lidl (a shop assistant who fills the shelves in the supermarket) more than a university professor does – because there aren’t enough people to fill even these very manual jobs (and fostered workers won’t go looking for real jobs). Basically the only skill needed is to show up and yet there aren’t enough people. But this means more money for many people and as a result they are ever so slightly happier by the month, which adds up over two years. If people feel they can spend more (have a used imported bömös (BMW)) they may forgive… Read more »
Guest

Read my remark again! If it’s true what you’re saying – then good night Hungary, good bye democracy!

pappp
Guest

Rome is pulling back from the candidacy to host the 2024 Olimpic games. Imagine that there will be a change in government in France next year and it will be out of the game too.

Now you will have LA and Hungary, the latter supported by influential Russia and the anti-US coalition.

If Hungary wins the hosting which is getting less and less popular people will be very happy and in 8 years they will be very upset.

But then it will be too late. Budapest voters already hate the idea of the games, but rural people are very happy that we can host it. They are totally OK with burning 3,000 bn forints at least, it’s great fun. They can be proud again being Hungarians. It’s worth every penny for average joes. They like sports and games and circus.

It will then indeed be good night for Hungary especially with Paks 2 also nicely moving along. The outlook isn’t too good.

webber
Guest

Yes, Russia is very influential in the Olympics….

Now what are you drinking?

webber
Guest

With that remark, you’ve clinched it. S.H. is right.

pappp
Guest

webber: I have to confess this line of thought was not my original idea (comes from a 444.hu journalist). However I agree that there is this danger.

You may have missed but Russia recently hosted an Olympics (which meant distributing a LOT of money to committee members who are still beholden to their paymasters, but if not they will be reminded) and despite the amplydocumented state-sponsored doping program Russia was – somehow – not excluded from the Rio games.

Now, if you think this was an accident you are dreaming.

Thomas Bach, the head of the International Olympic Committee is famously pro-Russian for example. How much more influence is needed for Russia (see article below)? The Russians have a huge clout in the committee. Unfortunately for Hungary.

https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2016/jul/25/rio-olympics-russia-drugs-vladimir-putin-ioc

pappp
Guest

You are totally ridiculous calling me a Fdesz troll every other day, when most of my comments are anti-Fidesz.

But being anti-Fidesz that does not mean that we don’t have to account for the existence of pro-Fidesz sentiment and pro-Fidesz data or such developments. These circumstances also exist and unless we are prepared, Fidesz will stay forever. To quote a classic source:

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”

Now please get rid of your prejudiced approach which is looking for a secret fidesznik bent in everywhere I write. You are in danger of becoming like the proverbial crazy anti-semite for whom the very lack of evidence is in fact the greatest evidence of the omniperesent jewish consipracy (because you see they are so good at conspiring that they can arrange the lack itself).

webber
Guest

For Pappp – all about “Russia’s influence” on the Olympics:
https://www.rt.com/sport/350436-isinbayeva-athletes-olympics-iaaf/

pappp
Guest

webber: C’mon, now you’re linking a Russian government financed media on how poor Russians are mistreated by the world? You can’t be serious. I also know from reliable Russian government sources, they assured me, that Putin is not corrupt, he us a humble public servant,

Perhaps the Guardian is a tad more reliable.

https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2016/jul/25/rio-olympics-russia-drugs-vladimir-putin-ioc