Institutional Conditions of Adapting to Future Challenges in the Hungarian Education System

The research project is led by Peter Radó of CEU, Budapest. It lists eight changes to which education systems are required to adapt (1) technological changes, (2) transformation of the structure of job supply and workplace, (3) demographic changes, migration, (4) populist politics and new types of autocratic regimes, (5) the tenacious survival of old societal inequalities and the emergence of new ones (finding this most important), (6) changing gender roles, (7) climate change, (8) globalization.

The study finds that all these are relevant, and their cumulative effect points to an adjustment crisis. The shift to bureaucratic and political control of the last two decades, termination of the organizational, fiscal, and professional autonomy of schools meant that most schools have lost their ability to adapt to challenges. The study enumerates the negative effects of extreme centralization, the nationalization of textbook publishing, National Core Curriculum, lack of up-to-date data, banning critical voices, etc. As a consequence, schools are not able to reconsider their programs; to diversify how learning is organized; to accumulate those institutional professional capacities that are required for the individual development of the pupils; they have lost their ability to cooperate with key out-of-school actors. The study argues that the education system’s low capacity to compensate for disadvantages is matched with high social selection and Hungary operates one of the most selective education systems in Europe. Analysis of various student performance data proves that in terms of mitigating social inequalities, education is not part of the solution, but is much more part of the problem. The study offers three potential drivers for change: (1) educational management, especially mid-term planning; (2) performance management: instruments for setting goals for schools, quality evaluation system, forms of intervention in case of poor performance; (3) use of financial incentives.


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