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In 2016, the Hungarian Government set up a 'Medium-term strategy against leaving school without qualifications' [('A végzettség nélküli iskolaelhagyás elleni középtávú stratégia')] to tackle early school leaving and to increase employment, for which the cross-sectoral cooperation (education, training, employment, health care, law enforcement and social policy) is important. The timeframe of the strategy is 5 years between 2016 and 2020. The strategy also defines individual, institutional and system-level tasks (feladatok):
Its main goals at the individual level are:
- person-oriented, differentiated education and support,
- encouraging learning, preventing backwardness and disappointment,
- appropriate intervention,
- creating incentives for institution financing.
- providing adequate training and professionals,
- development of institutional public services,
- collaborative, adaptable learning organisation and management.
At system level:
- implementation of cross-sectoral cooperation,
- providing adequate education and training structure,
- developing sectoral responsibility,
- creating an appropriate financing system,
- creating flexible, effective regulation,
- creating an information system.
The Ministry of Human Capacities (Emberi Erőforrások Minisztériuma) is responsible for the implementation of the strategy, including the State Secretariat Responsible for Public Education (Köznevelési Államtitkárság). Since the strategy was adopted in 2016, its first audit has not yet been released, but some measures have already been taken according to the information provided by the Ministry in 2018, such as:
- From September 2015, the kindergarten is compulsory for children from year 3. It aims to ensure educational successfulness.
- The early warning and pedagogical support system was introduced (see below).
- There is a system for controlling and monitoring the work of the teachers by the Education Office (Oktatási Hivatal).
- Pedagogical Educational Centres (Pedagógiai Oktatási Központok) were established to coordinate controlling and monitoring at the local level.
- The expectation and recognition of competences of inclusive education are included in the qualification procedure of the teachers.
Those teachers who work with disadvantaged students (for example Roma children) are entitled to an extra pay from January 2019.
According to the information provided by the Ministry in 2019, the responsible authority for the audit is the Ministry for Innovation and Technology (Innovációs és Technológiai Minisztérium) and the audit was planned to be held in 2020, but so far no information available on it.
Early warning and pedagogical support system for preventing early school leaving
The amendment of the Government regulation no. 229/2012 (VIII.28.) on the implementation of the Act on National School Education [nemzeti köznevelésről szóló törvény végrehajtásáról szóló 229/2012. (VIII. 28.) Korm. rendelet] entered into force on November 19 2016. The regulation introduced the early warning and pedagogical support system for
- the prevention of early school leaving and
- the commencement of related institutional and state tasks at the national level.
The support system is intended to contribute to the achievement of the 'Medium-term strategy against school leaving without qualifications' ('A végzettség nélküli iskolaelhagyás elleni középtávú stratégia'), and to help achieving the targets of the Europe 2020 strategy, namely that the proportion of early school leavers in Hungary should fall to 10% by 2020. The system draws attention to situations and areas requiring development (fejlesztendő területek) that, if recognised in time, might prevent the drop-out. These are usually linked to
- declining school performance,
- problematic behaviour,
- regular absence from school,
- problems in the family.
In the second half of the 2019/2020 academic year, the target was approximately reached. The rate of early school leavers was higher than 10% only in 3 counties and in 1 region (Oktatási Hivatal, Kimutatások, 2020).
In Hungary, the Tempus Public Foundation (Tempus Közalapítvány) coordinated the 'CroCooS (Cross-sectoral cooperation focused solutions for preventing early school leaving) – Prevent drop-out!' Program, which was launched under the European Commission’s Lifelong Learning Program. Within the framework of 'Objective Implementation of the education and training EU strategy' ('Az oktatás és képzés terén meghatározott uniós stratégiai célkitűzések végrehajtása') between 2014 and 2017, mainly from EU funds, the main aim of the initiative was to support policies in reducing early school leaving. The introduction of a complex early warning and intervention system where schools can develop a system for themselves for screening and assisting young people at risk of dropping out was the practical outcome of the program.
Scholarships for preventing early school leaving
The Arany János Talent Program (Arany János Tehetséggondozó Program), Arany János College Program (Arany János Kollégiumi Program) and Arany János College-Vocational School Program (Arany János Kollégiumi-Szakiskolai Program) are complex support schemes for socially disadvantaged students, which supports the upper secondary education of young people, thus trying to prevent early school leaving. The development of the Arany János Programs is also part of the aforementioned goal of the 'Medium-term strategy against school leaving without qualifications' ('A végzettség nélküli iskolaelhagyás elleni középtávú stratégia') as it aims to provide complex-pedagogical, social, health and cultural support for drop-out groups of students. Further developments of the program are focusing on specific objectives and target groups (Arany János programok). For more information about scholarship programmes, see sub-chapter 4.4 Inclusive Programmes for Young People.
The 'Road to School Scholarship Program' (Útravaló Ösztöndíjprogram) was set up to provide support for disadvantaged youth (mainly Roma) to prepare for further education or finish their current studies in primary or secondary education. The Roma Girls Incorporation Program (Roma lányok korai iskolaelhagyásának megelőzése) also aims to prevent school dropouts by increasing the learning motivation of Roma girls aged 10 to 18 years. For more information, see sub-chapter 4.4 Inclusive Programmes for Young People.
The Complex Basic Program
- differentiated development,
- cooperation, and
- equal opportunities
by providing specific opportunities and compensation for disadvantaged groups (for example students with disadvantaged socio-economic background, such as from families with very low monthly income or Roma children) by introducing new principles and methods in a personalised manner but the general aim of the program is to develop the work in those classes where there are children with different skills, performance, and who are coming from different socio-economig bacgrounds. Therefore, the programme also supports talented students. Its main goal is to teach the 'practical' knowledge of life within the framework of formal education and to make children feel better at school.
The School Education Bridge Program
The adult education programme of the Ministry of Human Capacities, the School Education Bridge Programme (Köznevelési Hídprogram), helps the return of early school leavers to education. It aims to introduce young people to vocational training that meet the needs of the labour market.
The programme was launched in 2013, and those young people can participate in it, who
- have not finished their basic education,
- have successfully completed at least six primary school years and
- have reached the age of 15.
The program is divided into two parts:
- the School Education Bridge Program (Köznevelési HÍD – program), and
- the Springboard Program (Dobbantó - program) that replaced the Vocational Training Bridge Program (Szakképzési HÍD – program) from September 2020.
First, the School Education Bridge Program (Köznevelési HÍD – program), for which the Klebelsberg Center (Klebelsberg Központ), and the Educational district centers (Tankerületi Központok) are responsible. Second, the Springboard Program (Dobbantó - program) [formerly the Vocational Training Bridge Program (Szakképzési HÍD – program)], for which the National Institute of Vocational and Adult Training (Nemzeti Szakképzési és Felnőttképzési Hivatal) is responsible in general, and the Vocational Training Centrums (Szakképzési Centrumok) are coordinating at local level.
According to the government’s regulation [12/2020. (II. 7.) Korm. rendelet a szakképzésről szóló törvény végrehajtásáról]
'the Springboard Program is open to students who have reached the age of sixteen and do not have a primary education by the last day of the previous school year.'
A person can study at a workshop school only if he or she does not have a primary education and has completed the Springboard Program of the vocational school or has a primary education and has reached the age of 16. The workshop school aims to acquire the skills needed to enter to the vocational training or to the labour market.
According to the government’s regulation [322/2016. (X. 27.) Korm. rendelet a Szakképzési Hídprogramban részt vevő tanulók ösztöndíjáról, valamint a részt vevő pedagógusok pótlékáról], young people who participate in the programme are eligible to receive scholarships, while their teachers receive additional grants.
- In the 2018/2019 school year 2 100 students took part in the programme. (KSH, 2019)
- In the 2017/2018 school year, this number was 2 600, so the number of participants has increased compared to the previous figure. (KSH, 2018)
- In the 2016/2017 school year, nearly 2 300 students participated in day-to-day training, nearly 770 fewer than in the previous academic year. (KSH, 2017)
The Bridge programme is also mentioned in Eurydice' sub-chapter 2.3 Organisation of the Education System and of its Structure.
There is a programme which relates to the Bridge Program, called 'Reducing the number of the early school leavers in vocational training' (GINOP-6.2.2-VEKOP/15 'A szakképzést végzettség nélkül elhagyók számának csökkentése'). It aims to develop the competences of students in vocational training and in the Bridge programme, to make vocational training more effective, to increase the quality of their school performance, and to make students capable for lifelong learning. The application deadline has expired but the implementation lasts until the end of 2021.
Supporting Institutions with High Droupout Rates (EFOP - 3.1.5-16) The project 'Supporting Institutions with High Drop-out Rates' (EFOP - 3.1.5-16 A tanulói lemorzsolódással veszélyeztetett intézmények támogatása) is organised by the Education Office (Oktatási Hivatal). The aim of the project is to reduce the rate of early school-leavers to below 10% in accordance with the Europe 2020 Strategy. Therefore, it supports cooperation within local communities in order to decrease the risk of drop-out of students and to help them gain the qualifications and skills necessary for the labour market. The other goal of the project is to improve local pedagogical services. The following activities are supported:
- the complex development of participating institutions through individual and differentiated development programs with central coordination,
- support of students with a high chance of drop-out without qualifications, improvement of their success at school and later, on the labour market,
- development of network among the institutions of higher education,
- improvement of local pedagogical services operated by the Educational Authority, development of the organisation of education.
The project is aimed at supporting convergence areas and those age groups which will reach the target group age (18-24 years) by 2020. Different targeted programs exist for assisting the situation of disadvantaged students. (Further information can be found in sub-chapter 4.4 Inclusive Programmes for Young People.)
The Tanoda Program
The Tanoda program (Tanoda program) was established to prevent early school leaving. It is a community scene featuring a non-governmental organisation with local features based on voluntary participation and focusing on individual needs of children. It provides a complex service for the development of personality, that would be otherwise unavailable for disadvantaged children. For this program we cannot make a difference between age groups, since every Tanoda has a unique mix of age groups. It depends on who is involved into it. There are places, where special target groups are involved (for example disadvantaged children in kindergartens or in primary school), but usually students from the youth age group (16-18 years) and from primary schools are present.
The schools (iskolák) are usually established by foundations, public benefit organisations and other non-governmental organisations, and they are mainly run by volunteer staff. The tutors could apply for funding under the EFOP-3.3.1-15 study contest (EFOP-3.3.1-15 tanodapályázat), which resulted in the acquisition of 171 schools in 2015 for a total of HUF 25-30 million (about EUR 84 000-100 000).
In the 2017 academic year, 275 workshops were held and the government provided a total amount of HUF 11.5 billion (about EUR 3.8 million) financial support for the work. ('A kormány elkötelezett a tanodák működtetése mellett') In the next year (2019), for the first time, the Hungarian Government intends to give financial support for Tanoda schools. The amount of the support was HUF 2,5 billion (about EUR 7,5 million), which was allocated in the 2019 budget (2018. évi L. törvény Magyarország 2019. évi központi költségvetéséről). The same amount was allocated also in the 2020 budget (2019. évi LXXI. törvény Magyarország 2020. évi központi költségvetéséről).
Results of the Program
The practical activities of the schools are diverse, for example, the Csepp Tanoda School of Csobánka (Csobánkai Csepp Tanoda) helps Roma children in learning, acquiring the curriculum by common learning. The Kompánia Tanoda (Kompánia Tanoda) also organises afternoon training where they provide individual development, rehearsal, computer use and English language training. The Toldi Tanoda, created by the Real Pearl Foundation (Igazgyöngy Alapítvány) aims to develop reading motivation, reading comprehension, mathematics, foreign language and social competences, prepares children in kindergarten for school, and organises recreational development programs.
The 2016 Action Plan (akcióterv) of the 'Medium-term strategy against school leaving without qualifications' ('A végzettség nélküli iskolaelhagyás elleni középtávú középtávú stratégia') defines which sectors need to cooperate for the implementation of the strategy.
On the one hand, cross-sectoral cooperation should be strengthened by setting up a professional body coordinating government actions. On the other hand, the cooperation of cross-sectoral complex:
- human services,
- cultural and economic institutions, and
- libraries are needed for building the knowledge base between sectors.
In addition, from another point of view the cooperation of local institutions and civil organisations (including organisations in social, healthcare, sports, child and youth protection) is very important regarding the coordination of ELET interventions. It is also important to establish efficient communication and cooperation between the schools and the various stakeholders, and the participation of local cultural institutions in out-of-school educational activities.
Monitoring of ELET interventions
The 'Medium-term strategy against school leaving without qualifications' ('A végzettség nélküli iskolaelhagyás elleni középtávú stratégia') is currently under review. The objectives are also included in the Action Plan (akcióterv) of the Strategy:
- developing an indexing system for analysing institutional and local data;
- further development of databases containing national and regional data suitable for the analysis and decision making in educational policy,
- the operation of signalling system for statistical and diagnostic purposes, which is able to follow an individual's life and to support with intervention if necessary,
- evaluation of programs to decrease rate of drop out, feedback of results.
Implementation of the national Youth Guarantee Programme
In the framework of the II. Youth Guarantee Active Labour Market Programme (programok) (GINOP-5.2.1-15, VEKOP-8.2.1-15), young people under the age of 25 have the opportunity to take part in training organised by the National Employment Service (Nemzeti Foglalkoztatási Szolgálat). The training focus on how to become an entrepreneur, how to obtain a marketable vocational qualification.