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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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In most places Hungarian State schools were not forced upon the people by the government but were applied for by the people themselves. Countless proofs might be adduced to show that non-Magyar communities themselves demanded State elementary schools using the Hungarian language. This was so particuEDUCATION IN HUNGARY larly in the case of German, Ruthenian, and Slovak inhabitants.

It must also be taken into account that in many places where schools with Hungarian as the language of instruction were established by the State, the denominational school remained and the mother tongue of the nationality continued to be taught.

Such a drastic measure as that adopted by the Roumanian, Serbian, and Czech governments today, according to which the government itself decides where the child shall be sent, cannot be paralleled by a single instance in the history of Hungarian elementary education; parents could at any time send their children to a school of such a language of instruction as they desired.

Neither race nor denomination nor family name ever served as decisive points in this matter. The analysis of family names with the intention of depriving children of an education in their mother tongue was never employed in Hungary. (Such a crime against a most natural human right, however, has been perpetrated by the States which annexed Hungarian territories in 1919.) In a few cases what might have happened was that school supporters were exposed to a little douce violence by subordinate officials in order that they might choose Hungarian for the language of instruction. To this may be attributed the fact that teaching in a non-Magyar tongue was eliminated in places where the majority of the inhabitants favoured the continuation of the use of their own tongue. It is an indubitable and an irrefutable fact, however, that the right of school supporters to decide which language was to be used remained inviolable to the end and that this right was enjoyed without any legal hindrance by all who clung to their mother tongue.

That non-Hungarian speaking inhabitants not only tolerated, but desired, teaching given in Hungarian was most convincingly proved by their conduct subsequent to 1918. It was frequently the case in territories occupied by the Czech that the Slovak elements clung to Hungarian as the language of instruction. We often find the complaint made by Czech writers that the Slovaks are still Hungarian sympathizers, and even after their "liberation" they like to call themselves Hungarians, to send their children to Hungarian schools, to speak Hungarian, to read Hungarian books and papers, and so on. Germans of the counties of Szatmár, Temesvár, Bácska, and so forth, long after Hungarian rule had ceased, persistently stood by the Hungarian


education of their children, even despite the pressure and persecution of the new authorities. The Croats of the county of Somogy and the Bunyevaces (Catholic Serbians) of Baranya and Bácska adhered to Hungarian as the language of instruction for three years during the occupation of the country by the Serbs, not heeding the commands and threats of their racial kinsmen.

As contrasted with people who voluntarily sympathized with the Magyar race and, after being in the country for over two hundred years were of themselves becoming assimilated, there were national minorities, which in some measure isolated themselves from the Magyars and favored the use of their mother tongue in their schools. The Hungarian government always permitted even these to use strictly their own language in teaching. They had absolutely no reason for complaint, especially if we take into consideration the unthinkable treatment accorded by the so-called Succession States to the national minorities and, in particular, to the Magyars. The Saxons of Transylvania, for instance, consisting of fewer than 200,000 people, yet separatist in nature and most tenaciously clinging to their race, could excellently develop their German schools under Hungarian rule without the slightest interference. They had 234 elementary schools, seven middle schools, seven Gymnasiums, two Real schools, two teacher training schools, and many professional schools. In all these schools teaching was conducted in German and the teaching of the State tongue, Hungarian, was reduced to the minimum and was otherwise practically unsuccessful, On top of this practice, these schools received a very significant State aid under Hungarian rule.

Greek Catholic Serbs through their denominational autonomy also maintained a great many (258) elementary schools, eight middle schools, two teacher training schools, and one Gymnasium.

They enjoyed their minority rights so abundantly that even in communities where they were only a very small minority, they maintained purely Serb-speaking schools for only ten to fifteen children. Roumanians under the aegis of the Greek Catholic and Greek Orthodox denominations could maintain an enormous number of schools (1,816 elementary and five secondary schools in 1915-1916), a significant majority of which also received State aid.

32 EDUCATION IN HUNGARY That at the same time the Germans had only 422 schools using the mother tongue and the Slovaks 310 may be attributed to their weaker national consciousness and also to the fact that these nationalities manifested a greater tendency toward assimilation, particularly for practical reasons. That the Hungarian government did not regard with disfavour, but rather gladly supported this tendency toward assimilation, can be least taken amiss by those nationalities which today do not content themselves with douce violence, but, trampling upon the minority rights ensured by the Trianon Treaty, through laws and open force suddenly closed the schools of the three and a half million Magyars who fell under their rule by the hundreds and under all sorts of pretexts prohibited tens of thousands of Magyar children from attending those Hungarian schools, which, however, were somehow able to continue.

Hungary, whose territory the coercive peace edict of Trianon has reduced almost to one-fourth of its former size and on the principle of the self-determination of nations forced approximately three and a half million Hungarians under foreign rule without the right of self-determination, today respects the right of national minorities in the field of education to a greater extent than ever. The old, unexampled liberal rights with respect to the maintenance of schools and the selection of their language she has greatly expanded. Measures relevant in this matter will be dealt with in the section which deals with the general description of modern Hungarian elementary schools.


The Elementary Education Act of 1868, which dealt with the organization, curriculum, and administration of elementary and higher elementary schools and training colleges, introduced a new type of school into the system of Hungarian education, namely, the middle school. This type was designed by the law to round off the education of the general masses, but it aimed also to give a preparatory education to such students as desired to study further, but not to enter any profession that demanded a highly specialized education. The curriculum of the middle school embraced the elements of an average practical education. This type soon gained great popularity. We shall describe it more fully later.


SECONDARY SCHOOLS ACT OF 1883 The regulation by law of the secondary schools became an absolute necessity after the cessation of absolutism. The older laws of 1791-1792 and 1844 mentioned the secondary schools (Latin schools) only in connection with the necessity of teaching the Hungarian language. The Rationes Educationis, issued in 1777 and 1806, were merely royal edicts and not constitutional enactments. The autonomous Protestant denominations, therefore, never recognized them as binding and voluntarily adjusted themselves only in so far as it suited their purpose. This holds true also of the Entwurf issued during the period of absolutism (1849). After 1860 the ordinances issued by the Governing Council had reference only to the Catholic and community secondary schools. With the advent of the constitutional era, Baron Joseph Eötvös, Minister of Education, decided to effect a reorganization of the secondary schools, too; and in 1869 he introduced a complex system of nine grades, the materialization of which his successor gradually stopped, introducing in its stead a system which approximated to the Gymnasium of the Entwurf (1871).

After a debate lasting over a decade there came into existence in 1883 a law which dealt with the life of the secondary school from all possible angles. According to this law, the task of a secondary school, that is, of the Gymnasium and the Real school, is to give the youth a general higher education and prepare them for more advanced study. This task is fulfilled in the Gymnasium by the teaching of the humanities, especially of the ancient classics, and in the Real school chiefly by the teaching of modern languages, mathematics, and natural sciences. The course of both types consists of eight years and is completed by the maturity examination. Students may enrol after having successfully passed the four elementary grades.

The law defines the right of establishing secondary schools, as in the case of elementary schools, in an unusually liberal spirit.

Secondary schools may be founded by any legal body or person —the State, any citizen of any nationality, any community, denomination, or religious community—provided the requirements of the law are fulfilled and subject to State supervision as defined in the law. The laws of 1868 and 1883 gave full liberty 34 EDUCATION IN HUNGARY to denominations as to which language they would select for schools supported by them. This right was enjoyed in practice by the various denominations, which at the same time represented certain nationalities as well. At the cataclysmic dissolution of the old kingdom there were, in the school year of 1917-1918, altogether five Roumanian, one Roumanian-Hungarian, one Italian, one Italian-Hungarian, one Serbian, and nine German, secondary schools. Formerly there had been more non-Hungarian-speaking secondary schools, but wre may attribute it to natural progress that the various nationalities voluntarily adapted themselves to the language of the Hungarian race, which had for more than a thousand years been a self-governing State and as such had received them as immigrants.

The significance of the Act of 1883 lies in part in the fact that it assured a unified progress in national secondary education, giving force to the conclusive power of the State over schools out of which comes the leading social stratum of the nation, the intelligent class. It was to this end that the two Rationes worked, but without success. Hungarian secondary education continued to exist in two different groups, in the Catholic or so-called "royal" secondary schools on the one hand and in non-Catholic secondary schools on the other. The inner life, organization, and curriculum of Catholic Gymnasiums were alike, because these were determined in the name of the king by the government which had power over them in every respect. Over nonCatholic secondary schools the king, however, had power of supreme supervision {suprema inspectio) but, as a matter of fact, these Protestant schools regulated their own organization and system, independent of the government. For this very reason these developed diverse and unique individual characteristics. When, after the reconciliation of king and nation in 1867, the idea of a unified national Hungarian State had been realized, the need arose very naturally of bringing all secondary education under one unified scholastic system without slighting the autonomy of the Protestants. The Act of 1883 very fortunately gave assurance of this unity by stipulating that, while it recognized the right of denominations to determine the curriculum, plan of instruction, and textbooks in schools maintained by them, it nevertheless added that the amount taught in denominational secondary schools could not be less than the amount


embraced by schools under the supervision and direct control of the Minister of Education. The curriculum of the latter schools was required of denominational secondary schools as a minimum.

This measure thus ensured a unity for the secondary schools of the country and yet provided ample room for freedom, change, historic traditions, local circumstances, and specific denominational aims. Furthermore, it was this same unified spirit that was the aim of another stipulation, according to which the Hungarian language and Hungarian literature were to be taught in all secondary schools, in non-Hungarian schools as well, and also only Hungarian citizens having first obtained a diploma from a national examination board were eligible to teach in Hungarian secondary schools.

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