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Péter Tibor Nagy: The Re-Establishment of the Denominational School System and the State in the First Parliamentary Period 1990–94

The study describes the process of re-establishing denominational schools in Hungary. Attacks against the situation originating in the nationalisation of schools in 1948 started in 1989. The last socialist government (1989) and the right wing coalition government (1990-94) urged the re-establishment of denominational schools. Full state maintenance of church schools was guaranteed by an act of 1990 without any preconditions. An act of 1991 started the reprivatisation of buildings and schools once belonging to churches. This process generated conflicts: there was a great social need for church schools in general, - but the majority of pupils and teachers in actual schools confiscated from municipalities and given to denominations generally declared that they did not want to become pupils and teachers of a church school. A very strange type of „Kulturkampf” started in the country: the liberal and socialist opposition, local governments and trade unions opposed the government, while the historical churches supported the process. The debate was very strongly linked to the so-called „neutrality debate”. The opposition fought for legal declaration of the ideological „neutrality” of municipal schools, which the government rejected. If the differences between municipal and denominational schools are not declared in an act, the government can give a municipal school to a denomination without having to pay compensation, because the „function” (education) remains. This can be prevented if there is a legal declaration of the differences between the two types of school. After a long fight, the ideological neutrality of municipal schools was declared by the constitutional court in 1993 and thus further reprivatisations were hindered. In the last months of the governmental period, the right wing government tried to change the status of church-employed teachers to state employees and signed a 20-year financial agreement with the churches.

MAGYAR PEDAGÓGIA 95. Number 3-4. 293-313. (1995)

Levelezési cím / Address for correspondence: Nagy Péter Tibor, Országos Közoktatási Intézet, H – 1132 Budapest, Victor Hugo u. 15–22.


Magyar Tudományos Akadémia