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Minister of Education: EU education targets unrealistic

Hungary's national education targets under the EU's 'Europe 2020' strategy will be difficult for the country to meet. While the higher education aim may be achievable, its proposed early school leavers' goal is "not realistic," according to the Ministry of Education, reported

The EU's new 'Europe 2020' strategy sets member states five headline targets. Regarding education, the European Commission proposed cutting the early school leavers rate to below 10% from the current 15% and ensuring that at least 40% of youngsters have a degree or diploma.

''The Ministry [for National Resources] takes on the challenges of the EU target,'' an official in the office of Rózsa Hoffmann, state secretary for education, told EurActiv Hungary when asked about the early school leavers' target.

''There is already an improvement in the numbers of early school leavers compared to 2000 (13.9%), but the last 2-3 years have shown stagnation and variation,'' the official told the portal.

However, the national target tabled by the Commission for Hungary regarding early dropouts is 8.4% – which is not realistic, according to the ministry. ''Because of probable future demographic trends, the target of 8.4% – according to the current situation and extrapolated from the trends regarding the national goals – is not realistic,'' Rózsa Hoffmann's team believes.

The state secretary instead supports a national target of 10%. ''Knowing the fact that in the past ten years, with a demographic equilibrium, a 2.5% reduction has been possible, it is reasonable to take on a 10% target,'' a ministry official told

The other facet of the education target is increasing the number of young people with a university degree or diploma from less than a third to at least 40%. The national target proposed by the Commission for Hungary is 33.8%, which would mean an increase of more than 10% by 2020, as the current rate is just 22.4%.

The Ministry of National Resources believes the target is achievable – as demographic trends predict a positive effect in the coming years.

''Today, 69% of young people (between 20 and 24) enter higher education. In 2020, this age group will be 30-34 years old and approximately 34% will have a university degree. This means that to achieve the target, we do not need to increase the number of people entering higher education but reduce by 6% the 35% who drop out from university,'' the ministry official said.

The ministry therefore plans to review the language exam system, as in many cases in Hungary, an exam is a condition of receiving a diploma. There is also a need to reconsider the lessons learned from the Bologna Process, can reveal.

The ministry supports a differentiated approach. ''The target is not to enhance the absolute number of diplomas, but to increase the number of those university graduates who can be useful on the job market,'' the ministry stated. (BBJ)