Contents international patterns in the history of Hungarian educational administration



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1848-1918
The revolution of 1848 introduced a law making school attendance compulsory for all, and public instruction free and primarily the responsibility of communities. Besides the communities, the various denominations were also permitted to maintain public schools. This measure was adopted by the lower house of Parliament, but in view of disturbances that arose because of the war of independence, the upper house overturned it. Previously, however, Article 20 of the law of 1848 had declared that the expenses of all churches and schools shouldered by denominations should be defrayed by the state. Hungarian teachers from the entire country held a general congress to fix the underlying principles of the law regarding a unified public instruction. Its measures were inspired by an extreme “democratic spirit” - a professional expansion. It wanted to unite all education under state control and to place the administration of education on an entirely autonomous basis. It declared further that religious instruction was a private matter.

Since the existence of a strong empire in Central Europe to block the expansion of the Romanov Empire was a West European necessity, the British government tolerated the com­mon invasion and triumph of Hapsburg-Romanov troops in Hungary. The new organization of Hungarian secondary schools was defined for the entire Austrian empire by the Entwurf of 1849. The author of this plan was the famous Austrian school organizer Exner and the great Prussian philologist, Bonitz. Therefore, this plan represented a compromise between the modernist technocrats and absolutists. It defined the general intellectual and material conditions for public schools and declared that any school not attaining these standards would forfeit its official accredited status. The strict and consistent enforcement of this order caused much grief and hatred, yet ultimately it was useful for modernization because it compelled school supporters to do their utmost to raise the level of schools by obtaining more teachers, giving them better training, and providing satisfactory school buildings and equipment.

The Entwurf united the former six-grade Gymnasium and two-grade philosophy and academy course into an eight-grade Gymnasium. The Curriculum was so constructed that the lower Gymnasium (for the age group of 10-14 year-olds) offered a relatively complete yet simpler general education for those who did not desire to continue their studies. It also offered the appropriate basis for those wishing to finish the higher Gymnasium and later to attend the university. Permeated as it was with the neohumanist spirit, this curriculum struck a balance between the real elements of education. Compared with the archaic Ratio it was a great advance both in its content of material and its instructional method.

The Entwurf was the first order to organize secondary schools of a pragmatic tendency and to establish Real schools in order to satisfy the practical and technical needs of education. Like the gymnasium, the Real schools also fell into two divisions. The upper school was a three year course aimed to prepare for higher technical schools. The lower school was rather flexible - it might have two, three or four year courses according to local circumstances and needs. Real schools spread rapidly, for already in 1865 twenty-six of them were active in the country. The technocrats were strong enough to create a technical and practical school, but could not, however, assimilate this school to the humanist Gymnasium.

The training and education of teachers was also mandated by the Entwurf. It raised the level of requirements for specialized training and pedagogic preparation of teachers. It replaced the old system in which one teacher taught all subjects to the class for one in which he taught only in his field of specialization. The introduction of maturity examinations was also aimed at raising the standard of the schools. The development of instructional materials, of adequate equipment and of a library for teachers was made a serious duty. The standard of textbooks and their necessary uniformity was also assured. The educational system was modernized but generated serious conflicts, especially where the Protestants were in the majority, but had a small and poor secondary school.

When in 1860 the international crisis of the Hapsburg empire broke out, control of Hungarian public education was transferred from Vienna to Buda, and the reorganization of a national educational system initiated. By 1867, a new ministry was responsible for governing the country and in 1868 it presented an education act mandating general compulsory school attendance from the age of six to fifteen. The elementary school had two courses: day school, lasting six years, and continuation school, lasting three years. The law prescribed the creation of a greater number of higher elementary schools for the more populous communities in order that more advanced instruction might be brought to the people, especially in the field of practical, agricultural, and industrial knowledge.

The law also regulated compulsory teaching and the right to establish public schools. The ideology of the law was liberal: full freedom and equality in the field of elementary education to bring the nation closer together, divided as it was into denominations, nationalities, and languages. Elementary schools were permitted to be opened and maintained by any fictitious or natural person, denomination, state, society or individual. And since denominations were often closely linked with a particular nationality, individual nationalities such as Romanians, Serbs, Slovaks and Germans could freely establish schools according to their denomination. According to the new law, each pupil was to be instructed in his mother tongue if that language was generally used in the parish. The liberty of choice was guaranteed - if 30 parents disliked sending their children to the local denominational school, the municipality had to establish a new school for them. This special situation allowed the traditional forces to control the question of educating minorities.

The law regarded communities as primarily responsible for the establishment of schools and placed this duty upon them. The role of the state was limited primarily to assisting communities in need of financial aid. The state however, also reserved the right to establish similar schools anywhere on its own initiative. The original plan was that the state and the municipal school should be free of charge, but the denominations feared competition from nondenominational schools, so at last the school system was financed by 1) local special taxes - parents who sent their children to the denominational school and paid the denominational school taxes were not forced to finance the common school 2) fees 3) general local sources 4) state aid.

The elementary school teachers, a great majority of whom were employed by the churches and functioned not only as intellectuals but as servants of the church as well, wanted to form coalitions with the state administration. They wanted to limit local control, particularly that of local parents. They argued that parents were not qualified and only wanted guarantees from the state against the churches, the sponsors of the schools.

Those who refused local control could not ground their ideology in liberalism. Refusing church control denied them legitimacy based on religious grounds. So they sought legitimacy in supporting those politicians, in the government and in the opposition, who wanted to use the school system “to Magyarise” all of the nations of the Hungarian Kingdom, including the several million Slovakians and Romanians. The act of 1907 attacked the liberal traditions of education. It dictated a “minimal salary” for the elementary school teachers of churches, forcing church schools to ask for state aid. It also proclaimed that denominational schools, for example Orthodox schools for Romanians and Serbs, which received state aid had to teach in the Magyar language. This provision also extended to “public officials” - elementary school teachers employed by churches. Thus, the exclusion of market and competition forces from the educational system began at the turn of century.

Secondary education was addressed by the act of 1883, which stabilized the 8 grade secondary school of Entwurf. It defined the rules for establishing secondary schools, as in the case of elementary schools, in a liberal spirit. Secondary schools might be founded by anybody - provided the requirements of the law were fulfilled and subject to State supervision as stipulated by law.

The secondary schools of the country fell into three groups - those under state control, those under state guidance, and those under state supervision. The inner life, curriculum and organization of the state-owned and so-called “royal” secondary schools were determined in the name of the king by the government which had power over them. In practice though, the strong monastic orders could create a special image for their schools. The schools in the second group, under state guidance, were a totally new group because, prior to the act, these schools were under complete state control. The group was composed of schools maintained by authorized bodies, communities, societies, individuals and certain endowed secondary schools. In matters of pedagogy they were obliged to conform to state requirements, though in other matters they could act independently within prescribed limits of state supervision. Although the king had power of supreme supervision over non-Catholic denominational secondary schools, the Protestant and Greek Orthodox schools regulated their own organi­za­tion and system. The liberal state wanted a unified educational system, so it urged the creation of an autonomous Catholic body - a council elected by Catholic believers which would give them responsibility over the school, its welfare and financial questions. The hierarchy refused this dangerous solution, and without it the state could not give the same independence to the Catholic schools as it did to the Protestant ones. Since the state granted the same amount of aid to autonomous denominational schools as it did to state aided schools, the same curricu­lum was to be followed as that used by secondary state schools. The result of this arrangement was that within a decade all secondary schools taught in conformity with one and the same curriculum, since all the autonomous denominational secondary schools took advantage of the opportunity for state aid. But, the educational system remained pluralist in this spirit and level: not only the big denominations but also Budapest-council organized schools competed for students, for money from parents, for ideological control of the area, and the later control over ideological indoctrination of the elite coming from those schools. The Act of 1883 on secondary schools ordered two types of Hungarian secondary schools. In the so called Gymnasium, Latin became the strongest subject with 49 lessons, Hungarian got 30 lessons and Greek gained 19 lessons. In the Realschools, Latin and Greek were not subjects, and the natural sciences and living languages ruled the curricula.

It was a great opportunity for the Hungarian middle-class to choose between different values and careers according to their life-strategies. In this period, the coalition between the tradi­tional middle class, originating from the nobility, and the modern middle class, originating from Hungarian, German and Jewish merchants, entrepreneurs and industrialists, was still stable. It meant that in the ideological sphere of society the values of the traditional middle-class took over, and the values and habits of the latter group took over in the economy. The faculties of law, theology, humanities and medical sciences thus excluded the students of the Realschools. Since the prestige of the Realschool was much lower than that of the Gymna­sium, the parents who would have preferred a more practical school in a modern society were pressed to send their children to a Gymnasium. Although the choice of schools appeared free, parents became frustrated by the rigid rule of Greek.

The liberal social movement in Western Europe which since 1880, set itself against the privileged academic status of Gymnasiums and also against the general compulsory study of Greek, exerted its influence upon Hungarian Gymnasiums as well. This oppositional group succeeded in expressing its interests in the act of 1890 - presented by the modernist minister of the Hungarian Kulturkampf. It stipulated that Greek language might be substituted in the secondary schools by freehand drawing and a study of Greek art and Greek classics in Hungarian translations. The same law provided, furthermore, that pupils taking the substi­tution course might be admitted to the faculties of law or medicine at the universities, but admission to the studies of theology, philology, philosophy or history could be had only upon examination in Greek language on the basis of its maturity requirements.

In 1883 the conservative curriculum lobby, comprised primarily of churches, reached a compro­mise with the government based on the principle of: “we will accept the opening of a secondary school without Latin if you accept the preservation of our position in the main type of secondary school.” The second compromise was forced by the government in 1890. In the bargaining process, the conservative forces accepted the exclusion of Greek as the compulsory language from the main type of secondary school, but they preserved Greek literature and increased the number of Latin lessons in the curriculum. Latin’s position was stabilized in the schools after this compromise.

The competition for prestige amongst the schools demonstrated the public demand for Latin as a facultative subject in the Realschool too. From 1896 the Realschools gained the right to organize maturity exams in Latin, because Latin was an essential component of school-prestige. But in the longer run, the compromise-oriented approach of the more modern part of the Greek lobby was not successful: the plan of the new act in 1916 suggested the exclusion of Greek and preferred modern languages. The new forces of modernization, the radicals and social democrats - in opposition to conservative-liberal government which had been the force of modernization in the last decades - demanded a general school reform. They declared that the values of neohumanism were old fashioned, and that modern times required more natural sciences, sociology, and modern languages instead of Latin and even of a great part of History and Hungarian.



Notes


Felkai, László: Eötvös Jószef. Akadémiai Kiadó, Bp., 1979.; Eötvös, József: Kultúra és nevelés. Szépirodalmi Kiadó, Bp., 1976. [Culture and Education]; Köte, Sándor: Közoktatás és pedagógia. Tankönyvkiadó, Bp., 1975. [Public Education and Pedagogy]; Mann, Miklós: Trefort Ágoston. Akadémiai Kiadó, Bp., 1982.; Trefort, Ágoston: Beszédek. Bp., 1888. [Speeches]; Moritz, Csaky: Der Kulturkampf in Ungarn. Graz, 1967.; Csudáky: Csáky. Bp., 1913.; Molnár: Wlassics. Bp., 1907.; Mann, Miklós: Oktatáspolitikai koncepciók a dualizmus korából. Bp., 1987. [Political Conceptions of Education in the Epoch of Dualism]; Nagy, Péter Tibor. The Social and Political Status of Hungarian Elementary School Teachers. The Social Role and Evolution of the Teaching Profession in Historical Context. Joensuu, 1988.

The rise of conservatism and ideology in control of Hungarian education

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