Kőpatakiné Mészáros Mária
Special Needs Education in Hungary
Supportive Education Policy
Today’s education policy in Hungary identifies integration as a political, social and pedagogical aim. It pays special attention to financing special needs education. The regulatory framework favours the integration of students with special educational needs.
The Hungarian Ministry of Education has developed comprehensive integration projects. The amendment to the Act on Public Education of 1993 is intended to enforce the anti-discrimination efforts in the process of education and training and in the activities of all institutions involved.
Education of students with special needs is supported by the government’s intentions: according to the above-mentioned law students with special educational needs may attend mainstream schools. Parents are also asked to participate actively in their children’s education.
Special schools and special classes are still dominating, but the number of integrated students increases from year to year.
The categories are as follows:
- Students with special educational needs (according to the last amendment to the Act on Public Education of 2003) are:
students with physical disability, sensorial disabilities, mild and moderate mental retardation, speech disability, autism, permanent and severe difficulties in the learning process because of disturbances of their individual development (dyslexia, dysgraphia, hyperactivity etc), multiple disability.
- Students with learning and behavioural difficulties.
- Students with disadvantages.
Parents of students from category 1 are not free to choose a school; they receive a proposal from the relevant expert committee. They may appeal against the decision of it at the municipality and if they are still not satisfied with the new decision they can initiate civil action.
Concord between education policy, legislative regulation and possibilities of institutions (both mainstream and special)
When discussing topics related to disability the main approach is the inclusion of people living with disabilities. Today it is not a question any more whether students with special needs should attend school together with mainstream students or be educated separately in special institutions. Today the question is how they can attend school together.
Raising the integration capacity of mainstream schools creates numerous possibilities in the social learning process both of students with special needs and of mainstream students.
The process of searching a way of integration, institutional innovations bring about significant improvement in the quality of the work of the mainstream schools, too.
Co-operation between institutions
With the spreading of inclusive education the professional knowledge of teachers of students with special educational needs is more and more needed in the main-stream schools. The special institutions’ knowledge in special needs education (creating development programmes, applying therapies, counselling) can help the children participating in inclusive education.
Involving the special institutions in the process of inclusive education creates great opportunities for in-service teacher training, for improving the content and the quality of communication with parents and for providing professional care for students with special educational needs. In the last two years the special institutions have started to convert themselves into so-called "methodological and service centres”, which support inclusive education with professional knowledge.
A research conducted by the National Institute for Public Education in 2001 and 2002 revealed that in schools providing inclusive education there is a solid commitment in the attitude of the teachers. Teachers interpret their roles in a different way and their competencies have become more diverse.
Some examples to show to what they attach great importance:
- to create, activate and maintain a basis of motivation (both individual and communal) required for education, training and development;
- to find appropriate (individual) methods and techniques for the differential education of students with special needs;
- to plan and guide activities with the participation of the students with special needs;
- to explain the student’s diagnosis from the pedagogical point of view and to be able to find the best development methods;
- to be able to give alternatives to a given educational problem, to be able to guide activities and classes effectively, to be able to improve student participation;
- to be able to co-operate with parents, civil partners and other professionals involved.
We have concluded that we should start a new period of integration/inclusion of the students with special educational needs in Hungary.
Development of integration
- Focus on special schools
- Focus on integration schools and partnerships
- Focus on information for teachers, pupils, parents, schools
Memorize information and procedures