Hungarian students are behind Polish or Estonian students, even though their results improved a bit. All in all, Hungarian 15-year-olds are below the OECD average regarding all academic skills.
According to Index, Hungary’s results of 2018 show a slight improvement compared to the 2015 scores. Then, Hungarian students scored 470 points in reading, which rose to 476 points last year. In Maths, the rate of improvement is similar, from 477 points to 481 points. The country’s Science score also climbed to 481 points from 477. As a result, Hungarian students achieved 30th place in reading, 33rd in Mathematics, and 32nd in Science.
Hungary scored its best results in 2009, and the above-written numbers are
well below not only that but the OECD average, as well.
However, the right-wing Fidesz government that nationalised primary and secondary schools in the last few years sees that slight improvement as a verification of the effectiveness of past education reforms. On the contrary, critics say that the numbers prove a stagnation; therefore, comprehensive changes in the Hungarian education system are inevitable.
The PISA test is a triennial program measuring the academic performance (Maths, Science, reading competencies) of 15-year-old students. The 2018 papers were completed by 600,000 students from 79 countries. It should be stressed that since all countries have their educational system, the test does not measure factual knowledge, but
how students can use what they have learned at school.
Since Hungary is 20 points below its 2009 results, many say that the past 10 years of the Hungarian education system is a failure. Others argue that tests such as the PISA should not be trusted.
In 2015, László Palkovics, then state secretary for public education, said in an interview that the bad results are not proof of the government’s bad education policy. The current minister for innovation and technology added that there were two main reasons for the poor results: the lack of new teaching methods in Hungarian schools and that Hungarian institutions of education
cannot compensate for the many bad family backgrounds.
State secretary for public education Zoltán Maruzsa emphasised at today’s press conference that there are improving tendencies, and developments in public education are behind them.
Based on the 2018 results, the situation did not improve in this regard. The PISA report says that “some countries still have a long way to go in moderating between-school differences. In Argentina, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Peru, the Slovak Republic and the United Arab Emirates,
a typical disadvantaged student has only a one-in-eight chance
of attending the same school as high achievers.“
Data shows, for example, that 15 pc of Hungarian 15-year-olds do not have any basic skills they will need in their later life. Meanwhile, Estonia, another country from the post-Soviet region, already surpassed Finland thanks to complex education reforms.
Looking at the global ranking, according to the 2018 data, the Chinese score is so high in all 3 skills as if the country was a different category than the other states following it (Singapore, Estonia, South-Korea, Taiwan, Canada, or even Finland). However, in China, only some developed, urban areas were surveyed.
Europe was won by Estonia
followed by Finland, Ireland, Poland, Sweden, and the United Kingdom, but Austrian, Danish, Norwegian, and German students were also in the lead.
Among the Eastern-European and post-Soviet countries, Estonia, Poland, Slovenia, Czech Republic, Latvia, and Croatia managed to perform better than Hungary. Meanwhile, Lithuania, Slovakia, Romania, and Bulgaria did worse than Hungarians.