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«The International Institute of Teacher’s College, Columbia University The INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTE of Teachers College, Columbia University, was ...»

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As in other countries, the matter of supporting athletics in a systematic way came to the fore only after the World War. The Act of 1921 makes physical education compulsory for all primary and secondary schools and possible for university students; it compels the state to organize physical education in a way that all male citizens should receive physical training up to the age of twenty-one; and it ensures support for all social organizations seriously engaged in physical education if their work is worth while from the national point of view. For the training of instructors it decrees the establishment of the National College of Physical Education and urges the creation of more playgrounds, athletic fields, baths, swimming pools, and so on. It also makes stipulations for a National Stadium to be used for national and international sport contests. With this law Hungary accomplished a piece of pioneer work, for in the enactment of a physical education law into her Corpus Juris she preceded every one of the civilized nations.

It has very truly been stated by Count Klebelsberg that as a result of the Treaty of Trianon the Ministry of Public Worship and Instruction has in reality become the Ministry of Defence of disarmed Hungary. The maintenance of physical education, therefore, is regarded as an absolutely necessary task of the State in order that the nation may not be left behind others in this important respect. The aim of the State has met with such enthusiastic understanding and support throughout the country that today Hungary can proudly point to physical training institutions throughout her realm which have achieved praiseworthy results.


The program of physical education among the youth falls into two classifications, namely, physical education within the school and outside the school.

242 EDUCATION IN HUNGARY Physical training is compulsory in all types of schools in the country for both boys and girls, and exemption can be obtained only upon the advice of a physician. In general, three periods are devoted to it weekly. Wherever possible, classes are conducted in the open unless the weather forbids. To the program of compulsory physical education belong also the two-hour play session in the afternoon in which all students must participate.

In every secondary school sport clubs have been formed to cultivate the various sports. In these clubs students engage in the various athletic sports of their own choice under the guidance of the teacher. These sport clubs have been organized into the National Association of Secondary Schools Sport Clubs, wThich guides and controls their activity. The country is divided into six districts which in turn are divided into smaller groups. They hold competitions of all sorts among themselves both during the school year and at its close, which elicit the highest interest and support of the communities and authorities. Thus far 423 sport clubs have been formed with a total membership of about 128,000.

It is from the graduates of secondary schools that most of the athletes of the country are derived and, since the leaders and organizers of Hungarian athletic life will obviously come from them also, the National Association of Sport Clubs is fulfilling a great mission from the point of view not only of sport and physical education but also of hygiene and social significance.

Of particular importance are its contests and games conducted at the various schools during the commencement season, when all sorts of exhibitions of a cultural nature are coupled with the event which becomes a holiday for communities, and people from far and wide gather together to witness the athletic events and the exhibitions.

The universities and colleges have also made physical education compulsory and have already elaborated the pertinent regulations. As a result of this action great progress is expected in sports within the coming years. The sport clubs of the universities, many of wrhich can boast of a long past and excellent records, as well as the association which binds them together, are enthusiastically supported in all their endeavours. Many of them possess their own athletic fields and club houses, and are fully equipped for their purposes. At present a huge gymnasium with a swimming pool at the University of Budapest is being PHYSICAL EDUCATION 243 contemplated for the use of university and student secondary pupils.

University sport is on a high plane. As proof of this stands the fact that in 1927 at the Olympiad at Rome Hungarian students carried off 70 prizes.

–  –  –


The Act of 1921 extended compulsory physical education over the entire country and provided especially for the careful organization of young people who completed school. This act decrees that every male citizen under 21 years of age must take part in physical education.

Thus there have been formed the so-called levente (modern form of chivalry) societies. At present there are about 3,500 such societies, in which more than 700 instructors engage in physical education. It is this institution that has popularized athletics in Hungary, actually democratizing it, since participation in them was made possible for even the poorest boy, and it 244 EDUCATION TN HUNGARY carried the idea of physical education into the smallest village.

In general they engage in sports that are inexpensive and achieve results mainly through the aid of the teachers. In 1926 about 2,500 various athletic contests were held.

These societies are important chiefly from the point of view of education outside of the school Avails. They aid in the building up of a sound national spirit and consciousness. The charge

Boy Sooft Troop Meeting

that they serve military purposes is false and is refuted by the fact that membership ceases at the age of 21 when it would be possible to utilize the young men in that way.

Despite the meagre resources at their disposal these levente societies show encouraging progress. Organizations, even in the smallest villages, strive to cope with their task in an efficient way. Valuable results are accomplished by the Levente Homes scattered throughout the country for more intensive training.

With their libraries, movie and radio lectures, recreational and cultural program, musicales, and dances these homes soon became significant factors in popular education in spite of the fact that PHYSICAL EDUCATION 245 not even one-third of the societies own their building. Boys between the ages of twenty and twenty-one also receive training in fire fighting and in this way are serving a valuable social mission.


In the training of boys, invaluable service is done by the Boy Scout organization, which is purely a social organization and

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based entirely upon voluntary membership. There is no example of another foreign institution which had so quickly struck root in the national soil of Hungary as did Scouting. The explanation of this is found in the fact that the fundamental principles of the organization are marks of real Hungarian nature and character. Although Scouting has come from abroad, the Hungarian Boy Scout Association has made it one of the most truly Hungarian institutions among the youth. This organization in 1927 numbered thirty-five thousand boys among its members.

Scout life is active throughout the year, yet it is particularly so during the summer vacation. At this time extended camping trips are taken and the occasion is used to make love of nature 246 EDUCATION IN HUNGARY and country a living reality. During every summer Scouts will also travel abroad. Thus recently they participated in campings of England, Poland, Sweden, and Austria and at the Great International Jamboree of 1924 in Denmark, where the United States and England took first and second places, the Hungarian group carried off third place, wresting the palm from thirty other

First aid in a Boy Scout Camp

nations. Noteworthy also is another recognition which came to them at the water contests of 1927 in Denmark when they came in first and excelled among the youth of countries more fortunate because of having wide seashores.

As a result of the fine record of the Association, the government and the public have co-operated to erect headquarters for it at Budapest.

Eight hundred Hungarian Boy Scouts took part in the world jamboree in England (1929).

There is also a widely expanded organization of Girl Guides in Hungary.



Although the program of the Junior Red Cross reaches out into a broader field and is not limited to physical education, nevertheless we discuss it here because its activities revolve in a large measure around the problem of health and the training of the body. The Hungarian Junior Red Cross was formed in the spring of 1921, with ten groups, as a school of mental and physical


health. The program of work includes hygiene, hand skill, art education, humane activities, and international correspondence.

Each group is engaged in practical work, which is the source of its income. Their articles are sold during the Christmas and Easter sales, a good portion of them reaching markets abroad.

Visitors from the United States have often stated that the exhibitions of the Hungarian Junior Red Cross at Washington, London, Paris, and elsewhere contain the largest amount and finest type of articles.

The groups use their income for their own maintenance, new material, health equipments, and charity. In secret and without 248 EDUCATION IN HUNGARY waiting to be thanked they aid the poor in school and in society.

Each group has its own poor student, whom it helps to educate.

They fight untiringly against poverty and are unceasing in dispensing aid in the form of rent, foodstuff, clothing, tuition, etc.

They are the main supporters of their schools, for they not only keep them clean but also equip them with libraries, equipments of visualization, and so forth.

International correspondence has an individual and a national purpose. It broadens the perspective of the youth, gains friends for the Hungarian nation, which is without a brother, and helps to disburse many of the erroneous impressions which are extant

about Hungary. In a letter of a little American girl we read:

"Yesterday we celebrated the birthday of Abraham Lincoln.

He liberated all the citizens of America. I thought of your country. If only a similar great man would arise in your country to end your misery!" In the nineteenth century the world imagined Hungary to lie a vast wasteland. The Junior Red Cross members with their letters and albums desire to point to Hungary and to her values in order to prove the worth and vitality of the country, now condemned to die. It desires to influence the bar of the future to bring a just and rectifying decision and to have a human understanding.

Very significant is the health activity of the Junior Red Cross.

Realizing the truth of the adage of "a sound mind in a sound body," it utilizes every means towards the physical training of children. It started with the infants, one of the groups already having erected a home for infants, and others holding educational lectures throughout the country. These lectures, arranged by a special health committee, are of a practical nature. The organization also attempts to accustom young people to live hygienically and it sponsors campaigns with this purpose. Health films and health excursions conducted during the spring have also been of invaluable aid in the health program of the Junior Red Cross.


The training of physical training teachers in Hungary was started in 1868 by the National Gymnastic Society, which conducted a one-year course separately for men and women until 1923. The act of 1921 ordered the establishment of a school for PHYSICAL EDUCATION 249 the training of teachers; for financial reasons this was carried out only in 1925, when the College of Physical Education was founded. The course of the school, extending over six semesters, includes anatomy, physiology, growth of the body, anthropometria, hygiene and first aid, physical movements, theory of physical education, theory and practice of Swedish and German gymnastics, corrective gymnastics and massage, theory and prac



tice of athletics, school games and sports, history of physical education, physical education organization, psychology, theory of education, ethics, history of Hungarian culture, fencing, marksmanship (for men only), dancing (for women only), scouting, swimming, instruction of leventes, seminar, German, English (elective), singing, and practice teaching.

Students are admitted upon entrance examination in a number limited by the needs of secondary schools. Candidates must have either a certificate of maturity or a normal school diploma. PracEDUCATION IN HUNGARY tice teaching is conducted in a secondary school selected for this purpose.

The qualifying examination, conducted by a special committee, consists of a preliminary examination at the end of the second year and a professional examination at the conclusion of the course.

In order to raise the standard of the teachers and to extend The Boy Scout Camping Ground-The Danube from Passat to Budapest opportunities for their further education, intensive supervision is maintained. It is hoped to place physical education on a thoroughly scientific basis.


Institutions and organizations thus far mentioned are all called upon to encourage and develop the physical and intellectual education of the youth. They prepare the youth to be athletes and lay the foundations for athletic achievements by the Hungarian nation. For the physical education of adults and the developPHYSICAL EDUCATION ment of athletics, however, there exist athletic clubs and athletic associations.

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