Country information for Hungary - Systems of support and specialist provision

In the Hungarian public educational 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;
  • special skills development schools;
  • basic music and art schools;
  • national minorities schools;
  • special educational, conductive educational institutions;
  • halls of residence (boarding schools).

A special educational, conductive educational 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’ 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 educational service;
  • adapted physical education;
  • school and pre-school psychology service;
  • promotion of particularly talented children/learners.

The pedagogical assistance services work with learners.

Institutions providing pedagogical professional services

Pedagogical professional services’ 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.

The pedagogical professional services work with teachers.

Besides the above-mentioned, 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 educational methodological institution (USEMI)
  • Vocational training centre.

With regard to special needs provision, USEMIs are very important among multi-purpose institutions.

USEMIs may be established for assisting the education of learners with special educational needs (SEN), together with other learners. Within the framework of the institution, there shall be a unit exclusively performing kindergarten, primary school, school or secondary school activities and conducting developmental education for learners with SEN, as well as a mobile network of special educators and conductors. USEMIs may also fulfil the tasks of family support services and school healthcare services, as well as lending special education and conductive education tools and aids. They may operate a hall of residence.

‘Mobile special educator’ or ‘mobile conductor’ means the special educator or conductor employed by the respective mobile network of special educators or conductors, who regularly perform their duties outside the location of their employer, as specified in this Act. The mobile network of special educators and conductors offers experts with appropriate professional qualification as required for the education of 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 partly or fully together in the same group or class with peers.

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).

As seen above, the development objectives of education and inclusive education in the 2014–2020 period are determined by the National Disability Programme 2015–2025, the Human Resources Development Operational Programme 2014–2020 and the Public Education Development Strategy 2014–2020.

To achieve these strategies’ goals, in 2016/2017 Hungary launched three projects for developing special education and the special support system:

  • Professional development of institutions on:
    • children with severe and multiple disabilities;
    • the pedagogical assistance services;
    • the mobile special educator/mobile conductor networks.
  • Professional development of further study and career counselling
  • Cross-sectoral programme to harmonise early childhood services and supports (the education, social and healthcare sectors were involved in this project).

Placement in special schools

Neither the previous nor the current Act on Public Education includes any provisions on whether children with disabilities have to be educated 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 as a criterion. Learners with SEN have the right to receive special education 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 appropriate education for learners with SEN based on the relevant committee’s expert opinion, 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) shall draw up an expert opinion on the basis of its complex psychological, pedagogical-special educational, and medical examination. It shall make suggestions, based on the results of the examinations, for the education of learners with SEN or who are facing 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 informs the parents of the list of institutions where their child with SEN can take part in inclusive kindergarten or school education. The parents choose a public education institution from the list recommended by the professional diagnostic committee.

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, as well as schools for learners with physical, sensory or multiple disabilities. The institutions for learners with physical, sensory or speech disabilities or impairment and half of the schools for learners with intellectual disabilities, admitting children from a county, a region or the whole country, were jointly operated with public dormitories in the form of a boarding school. The aim of social inclusion was already clear in this period. The establishment of a separate institutional network was justified by the belief that children with similar problems would develop faster under special and more beneficial conditions and, at the same time, the groups from which such 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, because the qualification obtained in such 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, included the following rules:

  • 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.
  • According to the law, 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, 70% of learners with disabilities participating in the public education system receive education in an inclusive methodological framework.

In February 2018, there were 3,155 settlements (capital, 345 cities and 2,809 villages) in Hungary. The number of public educational institutions was 5,886. Of these 5,886 institutions:

  • 178 were special educational institutions (3%)
  • 168 were partly inclusive educational institutions (3%)
  • 3,875 were inclusive educational institutions (66%)
  • 1,653 were other public educational institutions (28%).

Under the Act on 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 operator of these institutions and services became the state instead of municipalities. The service capacity was revised and restructured. The aim of the structural change was to operate as 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.

Responsible bodies

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

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 child. Based on this opinion, they make a proposal for the institution providing kindergarten education or school education, as well as for the specific requirements for education and teaching of the child or learner.

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 are being prepared for successful identification, placement and programming for children and learners with SEN. Under the Social Renewal Operative Programme 3.4.2/B, started in January 2013, the focus is on the development of 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.

Quality indicators for special needs education

According to the Act on Public Education, the school operator evaluates the execution of tasks defined in the pedagogical programme of the educational institution and the effectiveness of the professional teaching work and 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, individual development plans comprise the basis of assessment. The assessment of pupils with SEN is based on the contents and requirements to be met, as 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 teaching staff and the parents’ association of the educational institution evaluate the work of 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. In the framework of a project financed by the Office of Education in Hungary in 2015, international tests of competencies in maths and Hungarian grammar and literature were adapted for pupils with SEN. The work also involved a pilot programme to try out the developed devices regarding the different groups of learners with SEN.

The pedagogical support institutions are:

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


Last updated 05/04/2018

Share this page: