The goals and consequences of the centralization of public education in Hungary – by András SEMJÉN, Marcell LE and Zoltán HERMANN in Acta Educationis Generalis
A robust process of centralization in education administration and school finance has taken place in Hungary after 2010. The governance and funding of schools have been taken from local government by the state, and the autonomy of headmasters and teachers has diminished. However, neither the objectives of, nor the motives behind this centralization seem to be completely clear. The usual requirements to be observed in public sector governance reforms were deliberately neglected. The reform was carried through in the absence of any pilot study or systematic impact assessment. This is all the more problematic as the recent literature on the experience of other countries does not provide unanimous support for centralization. Further, given the declared objectives of the reforms, it is rather remarkable that no systematic monitoring of results was put into place. Our paper clarifies these objectives and motives, and explores whether the reform has been successful in achieving its declared objectives. While the declared objectives of the centralization included the reduction of inequalities in resource availability and teachers’ wages, and an improvement in equality of educational opportunity, in the first two post-reform years these results failed to materialize. In the case of basic schools (grades 1-8) there was a significant drop in the level of resources per student, resulting in an increase of inequality of resources. In 2015, however, current school level educational expenditure per student started to grow rapidly and both in 2015 and 2016 it was well above its pre-reform level. After 2015 the inequality of per-student school level educational expenditure also diminished significantly.