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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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24 EDUCATION IN HUNGARY The new organization of Hungarian secondary schools was defined for the entire Austrian empire by the Ordinance of 1849 (Entwurf der Organisation der Gymnasien und Realschulen in Oesterreich. Vom Ministerium des Cultus und Unterrichts.

Vienna). Because this work of the famous Austrian school organizer, Exner, and of the great Prussian philologist, Bonitz, was forced upon the nation and, because of its strong Germanizing tendency, this code of education remained odious in the eyes of the nation. In the light of history, however, we are now constrained to admit that since the Ratio of 1777 this was the most valuable guidebook of Hungarian secondary education.

Its sections on organization and pedagogy permanently and beneficially influenced Hungarian secondary education. Its significance lay in the first place in the fact that it defined the general intellectual and material conditions for public schools and declared that any school not attaining this standard would forfeit its official accredited status. The strict and consistent enforcement of this order caused much grief and hate; yet ultimately it was useful 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-graded Gymnasium and the two-graded philosophy or academy course into an eightgraded Gymnasium. This it again divided into two sections— a four-graded lower Gymnasium, which was equivalent to the grammar school of the Ratio, and the four-graded upper Gymnasium, which comprised the two grades in each of the old humanity and philosophy courses. The curriculum was so constructed that the lower Gymnasium gave a relatively finished, yet simpler general education to those who did not desire to continue their studies; on the other hand, it afforded the proper basis for those who wished to finish the higher Gymnasium and later to attend the university. Permeated as it was with the neohumanist spirit, this curriculum struck a happy balance with the real elements of education. Compared with the archaic Ratio, it was a great advance with reference both to its choice of material and to its instructions of method.

The second outstanding significance of the Entwurf is that it first organized secondary schools of a realistic tendency and

HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT

established 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 and aimed to prepare for higher technical schools. The lower Real 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. Their original fault was that they desired to give at the same time general education and professional training, to serve both theory and practical life. We may well understand, therefore, the development which in 1875 led to the change of the practical-technical nature of the Real schools and their elevation to the rank of Gymnasium, their task being to give a general education in mathematics and natural sciences on the one hand and in modern languages and literature on the other.

The Entwurf is decisively important not only with reference to the school system and method. Three-quarters of a century ago it laid the foundation of the modern Hungarian secondary school in still another way. In organizing a system of general education and in preparing for advanced studies, it defined the task of instruction in the Gymnasium which stands the test to this day. The training and education of teachers were also made necessary by the Entwurf; the increase in requirements with reference to the specialized training and pedagogic preparation of teachers is no small glory of this new regulation. It changed the old system whereby one teacher taught a class all subjects for one whereby he taught only in his field of specialization.

The introduction of "maturity examinations" also aimed at raising the standard of the schools. The development of helps for instruction, 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. Many roots of the modern curriculum and disciplinary system, administration, and regulations for maturity examinations may be traced back to the historic source of the Entwurf.

The modernization of the University of Budapest also came about during the era of absolutism. The Official Regulation, issued by Count Thun on September 30, 1849, dealing with the organization and life of the university, with a few alterations 26 EDUCATION IN HUNGARY is essentially still in effect. The organization of the Prussian universities served as a model for this regulation. The Joseph Industrial School, previously mentioned, was in 1850 amalgamated by the Viennese government with the Engineers' Institute, which was separated from the Faculty of Philosophy, and the united school was raised to the rank of a technological college.

ELEMENTARY EDUCATION ACT OF 1868 In accordance with the Edict of October, 1860, issued by the Emperor Francis Joseph, the control of Hungarian public instruction was transferred from Vienna to Buda. Freed from the suppression of absolutism, the nation launched various experiments for the reorganization of education. This reorganization, however, met with success only when the ruler made peace with the nation in 1867 and, having been crowned king, appointed a responsible ministry. The Minister of Education, Baron Joseph Eötvös, regarded the legal regulation of public education as his primary task, precisely as he had done in 1848.





In presenting his proposals in 1868, Eötvös affirmed, "Inasmuch as the phase of public education which deals with the schooling of the masses lies closer to the interests of the nation and inasmuch as the spirit of the constitution is democratic and constrains us to look for the basis of our public education in the task of educating the masses, in my belief this undoubtedly is the first step to be taken in this matter." The Act of 1868, which regulated the entire system of public instruction, was a fundamental law still of paramount significance in its far-reaching application to modern Hungarian culture. It stipulates general compulsory school attendance from the age of six to fifteen, subject to a penalty for disobedience. The elementary school has two courses—day school, lasting six years, and continuation school, lasting three years. The law further provides higher elementary schools for 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. This type of school, however, did not flourish.

The primary significance of this law is to be found in the fact that it regulates, in its 148 paragraphs, compulsory education of the people along every line: compulsory teaching, the rights of establishing public schools, their types and curricula, trainHISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT ing and official status of teachers. Its value is especially apparent when we consider that England did not pass her first public education act until two years later, in 1870 (Elementary Education Act), though this Act did not provide the principle of general compulsory education. It is also clear, when we consider that, although France had had a law regarding public education since 1833, it was so incomplete and ineffective that Jules Ferry was obliged toward the beginning of the eighties to provide for a new law to guarantee a unified, organic development of elementary education, and compulsory education was made a law in France only in 1882. This took place in Piedmont as early as 1859 (Legge Curati), yet throughout the whole of Italy elementary education did not become generally compulsory until after the birth of Unita Italia in 1871.

Besides this democratic spirit the law of 1868 has the second characteristic of liberalism. The author of the law believed that full freedom and equality in the field of elementary education would bring the nation more closely together, divided as it was into denominations, nationalities, and languages of various sorts.

The result of this was that, provided the conditions of the law were observed, elementary schools were permitted to be opened and maintained by any fictitious or natural person—denomination, State, society, or individual. And since denominations are often closely linked with a particular nationality, individual nationalities (Roumanians, Serbs, Slovaks, Germans) could and still can freely establish schools under the title of a denomination or community. The law regarded the community as primarily responsible for the establishment of schools and placed this duty upon it. The rôle of the State was limited primarily to the assistance of communities in case their financial circumstances made it necessary. The State, however, also reserved the right, if it saw fit, to establish schools anywhere at its own expense, aside from such schools as communities were obliged by law to maintain. The centralization of schools, therefore, was originally far from the intentions of Hungarian legislators.

The Hungarian Parliament regulated elementary education with the utmost liberalism and unstinting respect for individual and corporate rights even where the interests of the State would have dictated greater strictness in the definition of rights. Article 38 of the Act of 1868 gave unlimited right of establishing

EDUCATION IN HUNGARY

schools. This law stipulates that each pupil shall be instructed in his mother tongue if that tongue is generally used in the parish. This in truth guarantees minority nationalities the right of using their mother tongue and even provides possibilities for developing it. These legal rights were increased still more by Article 44, dealing with the equality of nationalities, according to which denominations have full power to say which language is to be used in teaching, and, wherever the State sets up a school, there provisions must be made also for teaching in the mother tongue. With these laws, which gave almost unlimited autonomy to national minorities in the matter of elementary education, it was the Hungarian legislation itself which set up the greatest obstacle in the way of a unified, nationalistic, elementary education. The Ministry of Education was acquainted with these difficulties and struggled with them for decades, but it never, not even when it had legal right to do so, used forceful measures against the nationalities, which, on the other hand, took full advantage of their right to maintain schools and used it against the Hungarian nation. This legal right of denominations and communities to establish schools was held in respect by every Hungarian administration. When the State began to give financial aid to denominational schools, those using the language of minority nationalities were just as fully entitled to State aid as those using Hungarian; and this aid was freely accepted by all of them, with the exception of the wealthy and exclusive Serbian Orthodox schools.

Despite these facts, certain leaders of the nationality groups constantly charged the Ministry of Education with attempting to forcibly Magyarize the nationalities through the schools.

Enemies of the Hungarian race, however, cannot point to a single case where the Hungarian government interfered with the right of denominations and nationalities to establish their elementary schools or confiscated the right to determine the language of instruction of any such school. Those maintaining a school had full right to decide whether the mother tongue should be, either in whole or in part, the language of their school. This right was restricted only by Article 27 of the Act of 1907 providing that, where the language of any school at the time of the enactment of the law was Hungarian, there no changes could be made.

This same law empowered the State, in the case of financial

HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT

inability on the part of school supporters, to raise the salary of teachers in non-State, that is, denominational or community schools, to the level of State-employed teachers and to cover the difference out of its own resources. Schools using other than the Hungarian language could expect this state aid, however, only if they satisfied the conditions of the law with respect to the teaching of Hungarian, the curriculum, the textbooks, and the qualifications of teachers. According to this law all schools using other than the Hungarian language, whether receiving state aid or not, were to include the teaching of Hungarian in all classes according to a prescribed course and in the number of hours decided by the Ministry in conjunction with the representatives of the denomination. Hungarian was to be taught so that a non-Hungarian child, after passing the fourth standard, could intelligently use Hungarian both in writing and in speaking.

In the light of history the charges made in the past against the Hungarian policy of elementary education may be reduced to one. The government, contrary to the original intention of Article 38 of the Act of 1868, began to establish more and more elementary schools in the latter part of the past century, and these used the Hungarian language even in parishes where the population was predominantly non-Magyar. We must note, however, that this action of the government with reference to the language of instruction in school met with antagonism in comparatively few places. The founding of State schools or the transformation of non-State schools into State schools was effected at all times by the request of communities or school managers and never against their will, and, although State schools had Hungarian as the language of instruction even in communities of minority nationalities, an overwhelming majority of the non-Magyar groups considered it important from a practical point of view that their children should master the Hungarian language inasmuch as Hungarian, the language of the State and of economic life, was necessary or at least useful for all who did not wish to remain behind the plough in their own villages.



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