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Péter Donáth: Educational Policy and Teacher Training for the Elementary Level of the First Imre Nagy Government

The study examines the history of Hungarian teacher training for elementary education as it is revealed by archival sources hitherto outside the scope of research. It gives a brief overview of the fate of secondary level teacher training institutions, abolished then transformed into liberal arts and pedagogical academic secondary schools, only to be reinstated in their original form, all under the auspices of reform plans aiming at the establishment of unified college-level teacher training. The 43/1950 act introduced a matura exam to complete four years of studies in the intitutions, followed by a one year practicum and a qualifying examination. Thus, in contrast to former plans to increase the length of studies, teacher training became one year shorter, resulting in insufficiencies that surfaced soon afterwards. By 1952 it was obvoius that in the given framework it was hardly possible to realize the objectives of teacher training regarding the provision of both general and professional education. Even though students were burdened with 38–40 hours of classes per week, they covered only 75% of the academic secondary curriculum and that at a superficial level. In addition, the professional methodological output of the training institutions was lagging behind as well. Enchanted by the magic of the objectives of the first five-year plan and extensive development, the decision makers in educational policy gave very little reaction to the signs of the decline in teacher training. Only in 1953, under Imre Nagy's term as prime minister, could the chronic problems of teacher training appear openly in public discusson, in a temporarily different political climate and parallel with the revision of the overestimated plans. The study quotes contemporary sources to give a detailed description of the deficiencies and the plans for remedy. The decision makers of educational policy did show some willingness to improve the conditions of teachers in rural areas and teacher education as such, too, primarily because of their own twofold expectations that teachers would spread the Marxist-Leninist ideology they were keen on and that they would support the movement to form agricultural cooperatives. However, referring to 'the state of the national economy', the political leadership temporarily dismissed the plans that aimed at a drastic decrease in the number of students in teacher training with qualitative improvements in their programs of study in the summer of 1954. Thus, the period that held the promise of qualitative corrections resulted in the continued existence of four year secondary level teacher training and the loss of 20 of such intstitutions of the 48 formerly existing in Hungary.

MAGYAR PEDAGÓGIA 99. Number 1. 71-95. (1999)

Address for correspondence: Donáth Péter, Budapesti Tanítóképző Főiskola, H–1126 Budapest, Kiss J. alt. u. 40.

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Magyar Tudományos Akadémia