“The OECD has issued a positive report on the state of education in Hungary; the conclusions included in the report caused no surprised to the education administration”, Minister of State for Public Education Zoltán Maruzsa said at a press conference in Budapest on Tuesday.

With relation to the Hungarian elements of the report, Mr. Maruzsa told the press that the publication issued by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) praises the Government’s measures relating to nursery school education. The report highlighted the fact that an outstanding proportion of Hungarian children attend nursery school (and Kindergarten), and the state is playing a major role in both managing and financing education.

95 percent of Hungarian children attend nursery school, and financing for nursery schools equates to 0.9 percent of GDP, in comparison with the OECD average of 0.8 percent. With relation to public education, it is clearly evident from the report that teacher salaries have been increasing significantly since 2013, although the Minister of State noted that these still remain below international level.

According to Mr. Maruzsa, the latest figures are the result of the introduction of the career model for teachers. “While the real value of the salary of a secondary school teacher with 15 years of experience fell by 35 percent between 2005 and 2013, after the introduction of the career model salaries had already increased by 10 percent by 2015”, he said, adding that teacher salaries continued to increase in both 2016 and 2017.

The Minister of State told the press that with relation to higher education the report highlights the fact that a basic university degree equates to 72 percent increased income, while a master’s degree facilitates an average salary that is 134 percent higher, meaning that the Hungarian higher education system represents an outstanding income and employment advantage to those who acquire degrees in Hungary. The report also notes that the ratio of people there is a minor difference in the ratio of people with higher education diplomas in Hungary within the 25-64 year age group, compared to the OECD average.

While this ratio is 13 percent in Hungary for basic diplomas compared to an OECD average of 14 percent, the figure for master’s degrees is 9 percent, in contrast to the OECD average of 12 percent. The ratio of people with PhDs corresponds to the OCD average of 1 percent. The report also mentions education expenditure as a ratio of GDP, which in 2015 was a little under 4 percent in Hungary.

Mr. Maruzsa noted that this figure “does not place us amongst the frontrunners”, but added that budgetary funding for education has been increasing continuously since 2015. For instance, the 2010 budget for the whole field of education was 1571 billion forints (EUR 4.83bn), increasing to 1874 billion (EUR 5.76bn) in 2015, while the budget for next year includes education expenditure of 2039 billion forints (EUR 6.27bn).

The Minister of State explained that the latest OECD report on education is based on figures for 2015-2016, but that since then many positive changes have occurred within the field of education in Hungary. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development published its several hundred pages long, annual “Education at a Glance” report on Tuesday.