Proposals of the Transcarpathian Hungarian Pedagogical Association
Proposals of the Transcarpathian Hungarian Pedagogical Association regarding the new law on education and plans to optimize the school network
1. None of the proposals of the Venice Commission has not yet been taken into account by the Ministry. The announced projects imply further restrictions.
Here are some remarks and reminders about the current situation in public education.
2. The existing rights in the field of education in the native language should be kept without reducing the accessibility and quality of native language teaching. Steps must be taken to ensure that textbooks in Hungarian are available in all subjects at all levels of education - from kindergarten through high school.
3. In the case of kindergarten education which may be conducted in the native language, the curriculum for the study of the native language and folklore, as well as its methodological basis should be developed or approved at the national level, as it has not yet been adopted at the state level.
4. At the elementary school level:
4.1. The current standard does not allow minority schools to teach a foreign language at a level similar to that of Ukrainian schools, i.e. there is no foreign language curriculum at all or a smaller number of hours is available. According to previous practice, the description of the number of hours specifically stated how many lessons can be devoted to Ukrainian, national (Hungarian) and foreign language. This was modified by giving the languages a total number of hours and then establishing a different regulation on the number of hours required to teach Ukrainian, which takes up more than half of the total number of hours. The remaining hours can be divided between Hungarian and foreign languages. Either the native or a foreign language can be taught properly. In our correspondence, the ministry made it clear that we could choose Hungarian as a foreign language or English, both being European languages. This calls into question the legal status of the native language of minorities, attributing it to the category of foreign languages, as if we were immigrants in our own homeland. We have suggested increasing the number of minority language lessons by the number of foreign language lessons available for Ukrainian schools. Thus, Ukrainian, native language and foreign language would be taught in as many hours as in Ukrainian schools, although in the Hungarian class the students would have 2-3 lessons more each week, but it is accepted and even requested by the parents themselves. The answer was that it could not be provided because of the danger to the health of the children, and it would be necessary to spend the same amount from the state budget for each child, if the Hungarian students received more, it would violate the rights of Ukrainians.
4.2. The adopted standard on Ukrainian does not take into account the specifics of minority languages and contains a completely unrealistic set of requirements. The curriculum promotes assimilation, not integration
Make it compulsory to teach a foreign language in elementary grades from second grade, as in Ukrainian schools, 2-3 hours a week, as in Ukrainian classes. For this purpose, extend the language base for minorities to the number of foreign language lessons taught in Ukrainian schools. Thus, the Ukrainian, native language and foreign language would be taught in the same number of hours as in Ukrainian schools, although in Hungarian classes the students will have 2-3 additional hours per week, but it is accepted and even requested by the parents themselves.
5. At the level of basic secondary education:
5.1. After graduating from elementary school, 40% of subjects must be taught in the state language: this is total discrimination, which makes quality education in general subjects impossible. On the one hand, it requires an immediate change of language in the transition from elementary to basic education, which is a pedagogical nonsense in the case of almost all subjects. In other words, if a child studied science at the elementary school level in Hungarian, how can you teach them geography or biology in Ukrainian the following year?
5.2. Expecting a specialist teacher to prepare students for a change of language the following year with the same amount of hours is also absolutely absurd and will also result in poor quality of education.
5.3. If a student lives in a non-Ukrainian language environment, there are completely unrealistic expectations about learning Ukrainian, as some plans require knowledge of Ukrainian at levels B2 or even C1 from an average Hungarian elementary school graduate. And this is so while the current program is not intended to develop language competences or communication skills at all, but is almost exclusively focused on grammar rules and their application as if the students already spoke Ukrainian. Teaching Ukrainian literature is the same for students of Ukrainian schools and minorities, so it is unrealistic to implement it in a qualitative way; in addition, the world literature previously taught in terms of the Hungarian literature subject is now planned to be taught in Ukrainian.
5.4. The Ministry of Education has not taken steps to reform the teaching of the state language, and the current system does not, in essence, provide for the acquisition of the state language in the system of national minority schools at the level of state education.
We see the possibility of ensuring the quality of Ukrainian language learning not in increasing the number of hours, but rather in reviewing standards and related programs, taking into account the language specificity of the minority. In addition, it is important to provide adequate didactic resources: modern textbooks, workbooks, school dictionaries (which exist, but not for learning Ukrainian as a language), professional dictionaries, etc. Since the independence of Ukraine, no academic or school vocabulary has been compiled from the state budget. The vocabularies we work with in our schools have been compiled by teachers from Uzhgorod National University and Transcarpathian Hungarian Institute and published at the expense of the Hungarian state. The first step would be to develop a large academic dictionary, and then the rest, preferably at public expense.
When planning to teach Hungarian and literature, consider the following:
• curricula and curriculum requirements should be adapted to those in force in Hungary;
• Hungarian-language educational institutions should be able to adapt and use Hungarian textbooks and workbooks to ensure the availability of literature and textbooks.
In order to preserve national identity and develop self-knowledge, the teaching of the subject of Hungarian folklore should be introduced at the expense of compulsory lessons in 1 hour per week in grades 5-6 and history of the Hungarian people in grades 7-8-9, in one hour per week as well. Our Pedagogical Association has developed and published educational programs and textbooks in History of the Hungarian People, History of Hungarian Music. Please allow them to be included in the official program.
6. At the high school level:
6.1. The new high school law does not intend to change the situation significantly, although it does provide for a two-level final state language exam, but the proposed standard is again identical to the C1 level exam. Meanwhile, the proposed standards remain the same and there are no known initiatives to develop a new standard or methodology.
6.2. If the concept of foreign language teaching at the elementary school level does not change, Hungarian children will not be able to study, for example English, again after primary school, or they may be forced to join the educational process without having learned the language.
6.3. Knowledge of the state language is currently assessed by the final exam, which is at the same time the entrance examination for Ukrainian philological education, and is equivalent to the C1 level. The tests do not measure language competences, but rather grammatical knowledge at the level expected of future humanities graduates. Last year, minority school graduates were given a lower passing score, but this does not apply to the language group, which, in turn, was included in the high school diploma, so many were unable to continue their studies because they did not achieve the minimum required score.
6.4. At the secondary school level, teaching 60% of subjects in Ukrainian is expected to close or significantly impair the schools. At the high school level, we strongly reject this and treat it as a complete restriction on existing rights: a coercive tool to achieve assimilation.
Make it possible to pass an independent external native language exam or take a Hungarian language final exam in Transcarpathia. The requirements and content of the Hungarian final exam should be adapted to the requirements in force in Hungary;
Continue to provide the opportunity to take the final/entrance tests in professional subjects in Hungarian. We fear that the provisions of the Law on Education will be very disadvantageous for minority schools. The Ministry should take into account that the majority of national minorities have the same requirements, such as the minimum class sizes, which in most settlements will mean the termination of these schools. After all, there are almost no Hungarian settlements, except for cities, where high schools (grades 10-11) can provide at least 40 students in each grade. And the situation with basic education is equally alarming. Here, the ministry, in the light of other European experiences, should use positive factors to maintain national minority education institutions.
7. Higher education
7.1. It is still not possible for minority languages to be part of the central system of final exams. Although an internal final exam is allowed, it is not part of the state's system of independent assessment. It is not possible to apply for the native language exam in the admission procedure. You can take the English, German, French, Spanish exam, but not Romanian, Slovak and Hungarian, although they are all official languages in the EU.
7.2. The new law on higher education also makes it impossible to obtain higher education for national minorities, even in the case of private universities. Because the external testing system allows assessment of knowledge only in Ukrainian. That is, even if someone has studied Hungarian at a higher education institution, they will still have to take the final exams in Ukrainian, which puts graduates of Hungarian higher education in an extremely disadvantageous situation.
7.3. The new law on higher education also aims to limit the autonomy of private universities by allowing the rector's title to be granted only to persons whose accreditation has been approved by the Ukrainian state (for example, associate professor). This is also significantly different from European standards.
7.4. The accreditation process under the law on higher education still contains extreme standards. For example, the Transcarpathian Hungarian Institute is not able to accredit the kindergarten pedagogy department because there is no person with a doctoral degree who would also have obtained a basic education as a kindergarten teacher.
7.5. The work of private universities is complicated by the process of naturalization of diplomas and degrees obtained abroad. There is also no positive shift in this matter.
Allow to take the Hungarian language exam/entrance exam at the independent assessment centers. Keep allowing exams in Hungarian for all subjects.
With regard to private universities, continue to ensure that the language of instruction is chosen by the institution's holders and, accordingly, that final examinations are taken in the language of instruction.
Accreditation standards should be adapted to European ones. A new convention on the naturalization of degree should be signed with Hungary.