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EACEA National Policies Platform


5. Participation

5.7 “Learning to participate” through formal, non-formal and informal learning

Last update: 1 April 2024
On this page
  1. Policy Framework
  2. Formal learning
  3. Non-formal and informal learning
  4. Quality assurance/quality guidelines for non-formal learning
  5. Educators' support

Policy Framework

In Hungary there is no independent strategy for civic education but it appears as a separate compulsory subject in schools from the 2023/2024 academic year in the 8th and 12th grades. The framework curriculums ensure that the civic education subject is in line with the key competencies, defined in the National Core Curriculum [Nemzeti Alaptanterv (hereinafter referred to as NAT)]. Furthermore, several legal regulations contain general instructions on the teaching of knowledge and key competencies mentioned in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and other international statements.

''In Hungary, the National Core Curriculum makes 'education for active citizenship and democracy' a key development task across the whole education system and leaves schools the freedom to integrate 'homeland studies' as a compulsory separate subject at primary level.'' [Citizenship Education at school in Europe (2017)]

The NAT, together with local curriculums, provides the reference framework regarding social and civic competencies in Hungary. NAT defines the tasks of the local governments concerning public education and also the literacy set to be acquired according to the Act CXC of 2011 on National Public Education (2011. évi CXC. törvény a nemzeti köznevelésről). The objectives of the principles and developmental tasks are described in detail in framework curricula. These define the developmental requirements during the teaching and learning process and the depth of the knowledge expected. These requirements refer to young people of school age. Specific target groups are usually young people between 8 and 18 years of age.

Formal learning

As mentioned above, civic education appeared as a stand-alone subject in grades 8 and 12 from 2023, but previously it was already part of the general and vocational curricula, in both primary and secondary education. Civic education was part of the subject history, social studies, civics and economics.

The framework curriculum of the citizenship education provides the following key competencies that are developed by this subject: 

  • learning,
  • communication,
  • digital,
  • mathematic and thinking,
  • personal and social relationship,
  • creativity, creative work, self-expression and cultural consciousness, and
  • employee, innovative and entrepreneurial competencies.

The aim is to introduce young people the democratic state and public life based on the rule of law. It is important to educate pupils for civic participation and to support them in becoming responsible citizens.

NAT underlines that

'participation in public affairs requires the development of creativity; individual reflective thinking; analytical and debate skills which contribute to the establishment of a democratic attitude.' [National Core Curriculum (Nemzeti Alaptanterv)]

Besides the above-listed subjects, civic studies, as part of history subject, is compulsory for all IVET students.

Non-formal and informal learning

School student councils

School student councils [diákönkormányzat (hereinafter referred to as DÖK)] provide the formal structure of participation for pupils. The Act CXC of 2011 on National Public Education (2011. évi CXC. törvény a nemzeti köznevelésről) states that schools

'may establish school student councils in order to organise their joint activities in connection with education, to educate for democracy and public responsibility.'

One teacher per school is invited by the students to assist the work of the school student councils. (See sub-chapter 5.3 Youth representation bodies.)

'Many countries provide support materials or make non-binding recommendations to include particular events at school level such as the commemoration of specific days with national, European or global significance. Twenty-three [including Hungary] provide information for schools to support events marking national days...' [Citizenship Education at school in Europe (2017)]

Every school has a compulsory school ceremony or commemoration on public holidays that commemorate Hungarian (historical) revolutions and victims of retaliation. Schools make decision on how to commemorate them.

Programmes promoting participation skills of students and teachers

Programmes supporting participation skills of students and teachers are not common at primary and generally at public education. There are some schools which dedicate attention and capacity to organise similar programmes together with NGOs but in most schools there are no such initiatives.

School community service

School community service is an example of promoting student participation. The Act CXC of 2011 on National Public Education (2011. évi CXC. törvény a nemzeti köznevelésről) requires students to complete 50 hours of community service before graduation. It is the responsibility of schools to organise community service depending on the student's choice. Students can do community service with

  • state or local-governmental institutions,
  • NGOs or other non-profit organisations,
  • churches or
  • private individuals.
Other large-scale policy initiatives

Other large-scale policy initiatives and programmes regarding participation are not common. In some towns, town-level self-governments (school student councils at town level) were established which provides the opportunity for young people to articulate their opinion towards decision-makers at the town level. They operate well at only a small number of towns, at most places they do not exist. They do not have unified funding rules.

There are programmes on national level for young people to promote participation, such as

  • Parliamentary Youth Day,
  • Parliamentary tutorial,
  • 'Like-a-Parliament',
  • Future Debates Forum,
  • Public Mentoring Programme.

For more information on these programmes, see sub-chapter 5.8 Raising political awareness among young people.

Partnerships between formal educational institutions and youth organisations

As far as we know, there is no legal framework for establishing partnerships between formal educational institutions and youth organisations. The Erasmus+ programme provides funding for cross-sectoral projects, but the implementation of certain projects depends on the following factors:

  • the openness, motivation,
  • the financial means of schools, and
  • the teachers' workload.

For this kind of cooperation, Tempus Public Foundation launched a call for applications in 2023 that provide support to organisations that - among other activities - promote the active civic participation of young people. Furthermore, the organisation shall support the proactivity of young people and their communities.

Initiatives to support civic education of youth by the civil society

There are and there have been initiatives to support civic education of young people through civil society. A good example is the Foundation for Democratic Youth [Demokratikus Ifjúságért Alapítvány (hereinafter referred to as DIA)], which has been running programmes to promote the active participation of young people for 15 years, for example using the methodology of democratic debates, learning critical thinking, cooperation and creative problem solving techniques. More than 100 000 young people and 1 000 teachers and youth workers participated in the programmes of this organisation.

Financial support and national level programmes

There is no detailed information on financial support for these programmes. There is also no detailed information on programmes at national level that establish or support educational projects for the development of civic and social competence.

Quality assurance/quality guidelines for non-formal learning

There is no unified quality assurance system or guidelines for monitoring the non-formal learning activities/projects focusing on social and civic competences.

Educators' support

Several textbooks on social and civic knowledge have been published. Usually, manuals and accompanying pedagogical material are available on the websites of various NGOs and schools, such as on the website of the Foundation for Democratic Youth (Demokratikus Ifjúságért Alapítvány). In addition, there are other framework curriculum materials for teachers on the internet. But they do not reach a wide range of educators.

Youth experts (special helpers, teachers, policy makers, researchers) sometimes have the opportunity to participate in various events on different youth-related topics. A smaller number of these events are organised by the state.

In recent years there have also been several initiatives by non-governmental organisations, such as

There are some organisations that organise (under certain circumstances) courses on debating culture (e.g. DIA), but they do not reach the broad mass of young people.

The different Erasmus+ Actions also provide opportunities for educators to support the development of civic competences, although teachers' participation depends on individual motivation.

According to the Government's regulation [277/1997. (XII.22.) Korm. rendelet] as a general rule, it is mandatory for teachers to participate in pedagogical professional trainings and pass an examination. The aim of these is to renew, expand and develop the knowledge and skills that are needed to deal with children and students.

Among these trainings, there are some that deal with school community service or rights awareness or that focus on human rights and democratic values. These trainings are mainly aimed at ethics teachers and teachers with an interest in civic education. Universities and Parliament have the possibility to organise such trainings.

PRIME project

The National Youth Council (Nemzeti Ifjúsági Tanács) has a programme, called Promoting and Improving Existing Methods of Youth Participation (PRIME) that aims at the development of youth participation within formal education institutions and local governments. 

The target groups are teachers who assist to the work of school student councils (for more information see above) in secondary schools and youth officers working at local governments. They have the possibility to promote youth participation in these institutes. In the project, the professionals can participate in different trainings and a knowledge centre with best practices and an information portal will be launched. (For more information on youth officers, see sub-chapter 10.2 Administration and governance of youth work.)

The project is financed from the Erasmus+ budget.