A few years after the maniacal centralisation of primary and secondary education in Hungary the results are coming in. And they are not good.
Every country has a myth of how well its education system (as such) is. Americans can’t stop complaining, the Finnish are the role models these days. Hungarians have always had this myth that our secondary schools are so well, we practically gave the world all Nobel laureates in science. But definitely per capita, right? (Not true – as it never is with any country that claims it.)
The 2015 PISA test (pdf) had shown significant decline in ranking for Hungary. The PISA test measures how 15-year-old students can apply things learned in school (reading, mathematics and science).
Teachers once protested the insane centralisation efforts – but they were too lame. They tried very hard not to look “political” – which means opposition and thus enemy of the nation. They were just humbly asking for some semblance of sanity. Turns out, humbly asking doesn’t get you anywhere. Teachers’ politically naive representatives were misled in show-negotiations to shake hands on empty promises – and there was not much they could do after that, they were made accomplices in the system.
Others still grumble about minute-by-minute class curriculums and insane amount of adminstration that ensures they are stressed and don’t have time to deal with children’s actual needs and interest. It doesn’t help morals that they have all been rehired by the central government agency (KLIK) – except those who were confirmed opposition supporters or those who could be employed cheaper in the government’s fantastically mean public work program. That’s right, some teachers today labor away on three-month contracts for less than the living wage or else. That’s behind the shining employment data (and massive emigration).
It is thus probably no surprise that according to the 2015 PISA test, every fifth Hungarian 15-year-old boy is functionally illiterate today. Girls fare not much better. (And that the ration of immigrant children has reached 0%.)
The government prefers to point at another survey, TIMSS (Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study), that measures how well children had internalized the curriculum – whatever that may be. It can be uniform history books detailing how exactly Orbán was right to demonize migrants. And Hungarian children fared much better on those tests. But the PISA test measures how students can apply things learned in school in real life. That doesn’t work so well.
So let’s face it: the curriculum itself sucks.
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