The National Institute for Public Education, Hungary
The National Institute for Public Education (in the following: OKI) was established on 1st October 1990. According to its deed of foundation, OKI is an institution to render pedagogical and professional services and to conduct research and development at a nation-wide level. The activities cover numerous fields of public education: education before school as well as elementary and secondary education.
Our Institute carries out overall, national research into curriculum foundation and development. Within this framework, branch-of-study programmes, curricula and school concepts are worked out, and teaching instruments are designed for kindergartens, schools and adult education. OKI also adapts foreign school concepts and products of development to the Hungarian education system.
Between 1995 and 1998, OKI had a major role in developing the National Core Curriculum primarily by elaborating the central curriculum scheme for schools and by organising teacher training. In this respect, OKI partly functioned as a co-ordinator and partly assisted the introduction of the National Core Curriculum through direct research and development.
Our Institute had, and still has an active part in elaborating the scheme of final examinations at secondary schools and in exploring the related social demands in order to work out up-to-date tools for evaluation and exams. Efforts are made to develop a new-type final exam system at secondary schools, based on the Hungarian and foreign experience in evaluating and analysing student performance. OKI is also preparing the new exam scheme, to be introduced in 2002, by setting the conditions, working out the forms of operation, laying down and publishing the detailed exam requirements, designing standardised assignments and by compiling task banks. Conferences and extended training courses are also organised in this field.
Since its foundation, OKI has been regularly conducting comparative analyses of study achievements both in Hungary and abroad (Monitor, IEA). On the one hand, the aim is to analyse the changes in students' achievements over time and, on the other hand, to explore the pedagogical and social factors in the background of the changes in achievements. Accordingly, objective and empirical data are regularly supplied to the educational policy makers about the students' level of knowledge. A prime task is to research trends and processes within the public educational system; this is mainly an applied research, therefore it is closely connected to preparing education-related decisions (National Core Curriculum, amendment to the public education act) and to surveying the social impacts triggered by political decisions. This research analyses the success of education, the processes within the educational system and the effectiveness of the system.
The research is also focused on developing the teaching profession, on the income level and the work conditions of teachers and on the teacher organisations. Attention is paid to student movements within the educational system, to structural problems and to the difficulty of transition from school to work. The research covers the special organisational features of schools and the empirical survey of school management. It is worth mentioning the efforts to highlight international processes, including the impacts of the European integration on education. A high-priority task for OKI is to publish a biannual report giving an overall analysis and evaluation of the processes in the public education system.
OKI offers concepts and curricula for extended teacher training, and takes part in elaborating, introducing and operating the quality assurance system for extended pedagogue training.
OKI develops the contents and the organisational scheme of adult education (which is called the "second chance" institution) and extends adult education, both in and outside the school system, through specialised training as well as in the form of adult teaching in public education.
OKI initiates regular professional reconciliation with ethnic minority governments, surveys the needs of such governments and co-ordinates the work of minority governments and schools of national minorities. Optional professional programmes are worked out for schools of national minorities in order to provide them with continuous education at a high-level.
In the field of services, the Institute collects, processes and distributes information, data, facts and references regarding the operation of the public education system; works out, organises and runs the information system of public education. OKI regularly organises extended training schemes and grants accreditation. In its nation-wide competence, OKI renders services related to the examination and consultation register.
The Institute runs and continuously extends its library, and publishes the monthly Új Pedagógiai Szemle (New Pedagogical Review), which is one of the most prominent papers in Hungarian education.