Country information for Hungary - Systems of support and specialist provision

In the Hungarian public educational and vocational education system, there are three main types of institutions:

  • Educational institution
  • Pedagogical assistance services institution
  • Institution providing pedagogical professional services.

Educational institutions

The ‘single-purpose’ educational institutions are:

  • Kindergartens
  • Primary general schools
  • Secondary general schools
  • Vocational grammar schools
  • Vocational secondary schools
  • Vocational schools
  • Vocational school for special education
  • Special skills development schools
  • Basic music and art schools
  • National minorities schools
  • Special educational, conductive education institutions for learners with severe and multiple disabilities
  • Halls of residence (boarding schools).

A special educational, conductive education institution can also operate as a special kindergarten, special primary school, etc.

Pedagogical assistance services

Every county has a pedagogical assistance service, which has a sub-institution and units in every district. These are under unified leadership and professional protocols. The pedagogical assistance services work with learners. Their duties include:

  • special education consulting, early development and care (early intervention and prevention);
  • expert activity (committee of experts);
  • educational guidance;
  • speech therapy;
  • further study and career counselling;
  • conductive education service;
  • adapted physical education;
  • school and pre-school psychology service;
  • promotion of particularly talented learners.

Institutions providing pedagogical professional services

The pedagogical professional services work with teachers. Their duties include:

  • pedagogical evaluation;
  • professional counselling and special subject-related tasks;
  • provision of educational information;
  • public education administration services;
  • supporting and organising teacher training, in-service training and self-education;
  • organising and harmonising study, sports and talent promotion competitions;
  • information and counselling service for learners;
  • early warning and pedagogical support system for preventing drop-out.

In addition, there are so-called multi-purpose institutions:

  • Pre-school and crèche
  • Unified school or complex school
  • Public education institution under joint management
  • General community centre
  • Unified special educational, conductive education methodological institution (USEMI)
  • Vocational training centre.

With regard to special needs provision, USEMIs are very important among multi-purpose institutions. They may be established to assist in educating learners with special educational needs (SEN), together with other learners. Within the framework of the institution, units exclusively perform kindergarten, primary school, school or secondary school activities and conduct developmental education for learners with SEN. There is also a mobile network of special and conductive educators. USEMIs may also fulfil family support services and school healthcare services tasks, lend special and conductive education tools and aids, and operate a hall of residence.

‘Mobile special educators’ or ‘mobile conductive educators’ are employed by a mobile network of special or conductive educators and regularly perform their duties outside their employer’s location, as specified in Act CXC of 2011 on National Public Education. The mobile network of special and conductive educators offers experts with appropriate professional qualifications required to educate learners with SEN. The network supplies these experts to educational institutions that do not have such experts, so that the institution can provide kindergarten or school education for learners with SEN together in the same group or class as their peers part- or full-time.

In the education of learners with SEN, the county pedagogical assistance services and the USEMIs work as supportive institutions.

Act CXC of 2011 on National Public Education and Government Decree No. 326/2013 (VIII. 30.) on the promotion of teachers and the execution of Act XXXIII of 1992 on the legal status of public servants in schools and all public education institutions defines the number of financed employees directly assisting educational work related to both segregated and inclusive institutions (see Table 2).

The education and inclusive education development objectives in the 2021–2027 period are determined by the National Disability Programme 2015–2025, the Human Resources Development Operational Programme 2021–2027 and the Public Education Development Strategy 2021–2027. For more information on these strategies, see the Legislation and policy section.

Placement in special schools

Neither the previous nor the current Act on Public Education state whether children with disabilities have to be educated either in special education institutions/classes established for this purpose or together with other learners. It allows both options and stipulates compliance with the subjective and objective conditions required for specific education and teaching. Learners with SEN have the right to receive special and conductive education within the framework of special treatment and within the framework of inclusive education, after their eligibility is determined. Special needs education is provided for, in line with the committee of experts’ opinion.

Parents can select the educational institution that provides the most appropriate education for their children, based on the relevant committee’s expert opinion and in line with the needs and possibilities of parents and children. If parents disagree with the committee’s opinion, they can initiate a review procedure.

Provision within mainstream schools

The committee of experts (in the county pedagogical assistance service institution) draws up an expert opinion based on a complex psychological, pedagogical-special educational and medical examination. It makes suggestions, based on the results of the examinations, on the education of learners with SEN or who face difficulties in integration, learning or behaviour within the framework of special treatment, as well as the method, form and place of education. The professional diagnostic committee provides parents with a list of institutions where their child can take part in inclusive kindergarten or school education. The parents choose a public education institution from the recommended list .

Developing inclusion

In the 1980s, a diversified special education institution system was established in Hungary. Kindergartens opened for children who were blind, deaf, had disabilities or speech impairments and for learners with intellectual disabilities. Schools opened for learners with physical, sensory or multiple disabilities. The institutions for learners with physical, sensory or speech disabilities or impairments and half of the schools for learners with intellectual disabilities, admitting children from a county, a region or the whole country, were jointly operated in the form of boarding schools with public dormitories. The aim of social inclusion was already clear in this period. The separate institutional network was justified by the belief that learners with similar problems would develop faster with special and more beneficial conditions, while the groups from which these children were removed would be more homogeneous.

Basic schools teaching learners with intellectual disabilities operated as closed schools until the introduction of Act I of 1985 on Education. The qualification obtained in the closed schools did not entitle learners to continue their studies. In 1985, this closed method was terminated and a new institution – the special school – emerged to provide upper-secondary education to learners who could not be taught with other learners. The establishment of such schools was a significant step towards providing professional education to learners with disabilities.

Act LXXIX of 1993 on Public Education, which was in force between 1 September 1993 and 31 August 2012, stated:

  • Educational institutions involved in special education must employ specialist educators. Experts with appropriate professional qualifications may also be provided through the mobile network of specialist educators.
  • Learners with SEN can be educated partly or completely with peers in the same kindergarten group or school class.

Since 2003, various special institutions have been transformed into methodology centres, currently known as USEMIs. These institutions provide active co-operation to support collaboration for the benefit of inclusive education.

Currently, 72% of learners with disabilities participating in the public education and vocational education system receive education in an inclusive methodological framework.

In February 2021, there were 3,155 settlements (capital, 345 cities and 2,809 villages) in Hungary. Of the 5,852 public educational and vocational educational institutions:

  • 175 were special educational institutions (3%);
  • 128 were partly inclusive educational institutions (2%);
  • 4,014 were inclusive educational institutions (69%);
  • 1,535 were other public educational institutions (26%).

Under Act CXC of 2011 on National Public Education, which came into force in September 2012, institutions involved in SEN diagnosis service provision were organised into regional networks (pedagogical assistance services). The state became the operator of these institutions and services, instead of municipalities. The service capacity was revised and restructured. The aim of the structural change was to operate a coherent system and to provide more stable access to services. The pedagogical assistance services assist in the educational work of parents and teachers, as well as in the performance of the educational institutions’ duties.

In 2017, ‘development schools’, secondary schools (semi-vocational, practical skills) for learners with moderate intellectual disability were reformed and new practical curricula were published. The network rules were also updated for mobile special educators and mobile conductive educators (special or conductive educators employed by mobile networks to regularly perform their duties outside their employer’s location, as specified in Act CXC of 2011 on National Public Education). The reform process takes into account comments by non-governmental organisations, as well as the recommendations of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. In 2020, the national core curriculum (Government Decree No. 110/2012. (VI. 4.)) and the framework curricula were revised.

Responsible bodies

According to a recent modification of the regulation, the national institution maintenance centre is responsible for arrangements for learners with disabilities at national level.

National and county-level expert committees ascertain physical, sensory, intellectual and speech disabilities. The committee of experts examining sight, hearing and speech operates at national level, while those examining learning abilities operate in Budapest and in each county. The members of the committees are psychologists, special educators and medical doctors. They draw up an expert opinion on the learner. Based on this opinion, they propose the institution providing kindergarten or school education, as well as the specific requirements for the learner’s education and teaching.

The committees for diagnosing physical, sensory (visual and hearing) and speech impairments operate at national level. The committees of experts examining learning abilities operate in each county and in Budapest (to establish or exclude diagnoses classified in the collective category of intellectual disability and ‘permanent and severe disability of the education and learning process due to psychiatric developmental disorders’).

Diagnostic tests and diagnostic and therapeutic protocols were prepared for successful identification, placement and programming for children and learners with SEN. The Social Renewal Operative Programme 3.4.2/B, started in January 2013, focuses on developing pedagogical assistance services, which provide special education consultation, early development education and care, developmental education, expert activity, educational guidance, etc. Education for learners with SEN in the mainstream school system and their school inclusion must be achieved through pedagogical improvements assisting these needs, as well as their practical implementation. Institutions educating learners with SEN must be prepared to provide methodological services to broaden the scope of institutions with integrated/inclusive education.

Two projects in the 2014–2020 special education and the pedagogical assistance services system development are EFOP 3.1.6. and EFOP 4.1.6. These ensure professional development in institutions for children with severe and multiple disabilities, the pedagogical assistance services and the mobile special educator and conductive educator networks. The budget for these projects is HUF 13 billion (in the previous development period the budge was HUF 2.3 billion).

Quality indicators for special needs education

According to the Act on Public Education, the school operator evaluates the execution of the educational institution’s pedagogical programme and the effectiveness of professional teaching. The operator also controls the pedagogical programme, school rules and the Organisational and Operational Rules. Since September 2012, the Educational Authority is entitled to conduct school-based pedagogical evaluation at least once every five years.

In all institutions, assessment is based on individual development plans. The assessment of pupils with SEN is based on the contents and requirements set out in the development plans. The process is characterised by diagnosis and formative assessment. In summative assessment, the requirements defined in the development plans are decisive. Furthermore, the educational institution’s teaching staff and parents’ association evaluate the institution’s head teacher in the second and fourth year of their five-year mandate.

Specialist teachers working towards inclusion and experts from special schools assisted in developing the system for assessing pupils with SEN. The Education Authority adapted international tests of competencies in maths and Hungarian grammar and literature for learners with SEN in 2015. The work also involved a pilot programme to test the devices developed for the different groups of learners with SEN.

The pedagogical support institutions are:

  • USEMIs
  • Pedagogical assistance service institutions
  • Pedagogical professional service institutions.

In 2020, more than 71% of the learners with disabilities participating in the public education system received education in an inclusive methodological framework. The number of educational institutions teaching learners with SEN was 4,341 (75% of institutions).


Last updated 25/03/2021


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