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OK, when I have a bit of time, I'm going to do some reading up on the exact history of what happened and when in the Hungarian educational system. The elements that for me are most notable, seem to be pretty old.

I think one of the most damaging aspects is the way top grammar schools spoon off a certain crop of students at around 11 years old. I know this was going on in the late 1980s, and probably much earlier too.

One of the things foreigners note about Hungarian society is the way that bonds developed in school are kept and nurtured in a very intense manner. Many people make friends for life at school, but this seems to be far more rigid bonding... not just friends for life, but perhaps work colleagues for life! So these patterns formed at school seem to determine many social realities.

Among my acquaintances there are mainly ex-grammar school people, but I have also come across people who were consigned to the technical specialist schools, and these were bright people who for whatever reason, didn't match the teachers' expectations, or even had family members who embarrassed the powers-that-were at one point or another. Despite being intelligent, these graduates of the 'loser schools' - for that is what they were - have no expectation of degree level studies, whether in technical or non-technical subjects, and indeed operate on the assumption that they would be summararily rejected by Hungarian universities or even further education.

Many people therefore fail to be provided with basic study skills, but perhaps more importantly, they are conditioned to believe they are not capable of learning. I understand adult learning levels in Hungary are the lowest in Europe, and for this I blame the sink schools, and I also blame the premature funnelling of able students. The brutally selective and underfunded Hungarian education system dishes out ignorance and ineffective knowledge in equal measures. The fact that some people do OK eventually is something to marvel at, and may reflect parental intervention more than anything else.

It's amazing that Hungary has had three 'social-liberal' governments since 1990, that have done nothing to reduce selection, and the social inequalities resulting from this.

by car05 on Sun Mar 18th, 2012 at 11:28:06 AM EST
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