Since 1990, democratization of education has been central
in Hungary. The education system has become decentralized.
Traditionally, the country has had centrally drawn up
curricula, but since 1990 there has been room for local
adaptations. There are major differences between the school
offerings in cities and in the countryside. It is compulsory
school for anyone aged 6 to 16 years. The primary school is
usually 8 years old. There are three types of upper
secondary education, of which 4-year high schools and
vocational schools with an elementary education are most
sought after. While Russian language was previously
compulsory, English and German are now the dominant foreign
languages. See TOPSCHOOLSINTHEUSA for TOEFL, ACT, SAT testing locations and high school codes in Hungary.
There are 89 higher education institutions. The oldest is
the University of Pécs (1367, restored 1923) and Loránd
Eötvös University of Budapest (1635).
Aristocrat Istvan Szecheny became a leading reform figure
in the first half of the 19th century. His book "Credit"
(1825) became an inspiration for the reform movement, which
worked not only for the League but for the development of
science, art and modern production conditions. But at the
same time new clear contradictions arose between the
Hungarians and the many nationalities, who together were
majority in the kingdom. These contradictions were to prove
fatal during the Hungarian Revolution of 1848-49.
In the period before the revolution - triggered by the
new European uprising against the established order - the
prominent nationalist wing under Lajos Kossuth won over
Szecheny's more moderate reform movement. But the revolution
became a great tragedy. The minorities supported Austria,
which was also assisted by Russia. Kossuth had to flee from
Hungary, while the Habsburgs took a cruel revenge and
created a harsh central government.
Indirectly, however, the revolution became a victory
because it clearly showed that, at length, the national
demands of the Hungarians could not be suppressed. The
1850-60s also brought economic progress, especially for the
capital Budapest. In time, Emperor Franz Josef also
understood that the kingdom had to be reorganized on a new
basis. The result was the famous "Ausgleich" - a 1867
compromise that created the double-monarchy of
Austria-Hungary. Franz Josef was crowned Hungarian King, and
the two parts of the state were equated, but with common
foreign and defense policy. The scheme was the prelude to a
new heyday in the history of Hungary. At the same time, it
became a major cause of the collapse of the double monarchy,
because the other nationalities in Austria and especially
Hungary did not meet their fair demands.
An alliance of nobility and liberal citizenship soon took
over power in Hungary. Nationalism became a central
ideological force and democracy was limited to a small
elite. Neither the social nor the national problems were
solved. As before, the peasants trampled on the large
estates, with neither they nor the new growing industrial
working class having the right to vote. For the bourgeoisie,
it became a prosperous city center in Budapest that became a
modern European metropolis.
Major politics was dominated by the ongoing conflict with
Vienna for money and rights, while Hungarians under the
joint Foreign Minister Gyula Andrassy actively supported the
Germans in fighting the Slavic peoples. Throughout the
1890s, the followers of Lajos Kossuth gained a stronger
influence, leading to an even stronger Hungarian
After the year 1900, a new radical cultural movement
emerged, including the young philosopher György Lukács and
the great poet Endre Ady. The young radicals turned to
ruling pompous nationalism, and many of them sought contact
with the socialist labor movement, which was primarily
fighting for universal suffrage. But the electoral system
was arranged so that, before 1918, the Socialists were not
able to get elected representatives into parliament.
The strong man was Istvan Tisza - prime minister in
1913-17. He fought to the last against the League of
Nationalists. Facing him was Democratic Count Mihaly Karoly,
who became prime minister in October 1918 when the
Austro-Hungarian empire finally collapsed. After some months
he too had to give up - threatened by external and internal
enemies. Two-thirds of the country was then occupied by
Serbs, Czechs and Romanians.