Compulsory Education Age
6–16 years old
Legislation on public education allows for homeschooling under certain conditions, but is still in its beginning stages. Choosing the most appropriate form of education is among the parental rights guaranteed by the Constitution. Based on parents’ choice, compulsory education can be completed by school attendance or as a private student (Act CXC of 2011 on National Public Education, Article 45 Section 5).
In most cases, children are homeschooled due to illness or other special circumstances, such as permanent residence abroad, or engagement in some kind of profession (such as sports or the arts). The law requires that homeschooled pupils be enrolled in a specific institution, which, in accordance with its own rules, is obliged to help pupils complete their education by offering regular consultations and personal assistance from teaching staff.
Homeschooled pupils have to be tested at regular intervals (at least twice a year). They usually participate in end-term exams, which are administered by an examination board that decides whether the pupil can continue on to the next grade (11/1994 Decree on the operation of educational institutions, Articles 16-26).
There are strict legal conditions attached to homeschooling. For example, the law requires that a local child welfare service approve the arrangement. The restriction stems from a trend in the late 1990s for schools to persuade pupils with behavioral or academic difficulties to exercise their homeschooling option.
There is also the tendency for pupils with special educational needs to be homeschooled. Indeed, this is so common that in the most recent official statistics for the country’s education system homeschoolers and students with special educational needs are counted as one category (Statistical Yearbook of Education, 2009-2010).
All in all, in Hungary those who choose to homeschool cannot evade the traditional school system completely. Parents who attempt to provide schooling for their children without support from a designated school are considered being in breach of the law and are excluded from the Child Support Allowance, facing difficulties through the authorities, and ad extremum harassments and interposition into their private life. However there is no law against homeschooling per se, the authorities interpret the unclear terms and insufficient regulation very restrictively and force those parents to enroll their children into the schools provided by the Educational System teaching the strictly prescribed (evolution based) Central Curriculum. Local notaries keep regular contact with school headmasters and bring action against parents who fail to comply with the requirements for compulsory education.
For international families: the same rules are in place, when families of foreign nationality legally reside in Hungary for more than 3 months.
Above text was contributed by Emi Tolgyes-Busz