Record Number of Early School Leavers in Hungary

The number and proportion of 18-24 year-olds who left school early has shot up in Hungary, thanks to government lowering mandatory school age.


12.4% of 18-24 year-old Hungarians now have no high school diploma and are not pursuing any other type of education either. Source: Eurostat

The Eurostat statistics of early school leavers count people aged 18 to 24 who have completed at most lower secondary education and are not involved in further education or training.

The Orbán-government came back into power in 2010 and had a vision. Let those good-for-nothing (gypsy) kids out of school – and learn some trade instead. Well, the first half of that wish came true as they have lowered the mandatory school age to 16.

The vocational training system has, however, never materialized.

There was plenty of condescending “common sense” talk about these good-for-nothings learning a trade rather than trying to learn to read or write or a language. We were told to picture carpenters and bricklayers, and other, honest-to-god, hard-working citizens, who pay into the budget and don’t make trouble. We were told that it would be like the German vocational training system.

But the German system is built on cooperation with the future employers – and no corruption. But what do you expect from the employers in an economy where there is no future and you have to win as many public tenders as possible today – because there might be no more favors tomorrow. Employers here are busy submitting copy-paste tender paperwork and get away with token work if they win. Why would they cooperate with schools en masse?

Yes, there are rare examples of idealistic startuppers trying to educate kids to future skills. But not the 16-year-old dropouts. And one swallow doesn’t make a summer – even if he misguidedly believes it already is summer over here.

So we just left a mass of 16-year-olds on the side of the road, ready for the public work program, where they can dig ditches with a spoon or build stadiums and in the future probably pyramids for the emperor.

This is our leaders’ vision for us. I wish they hadn’t any.

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