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Content regulation in general education

  • Published on January 26, 2022

The National Core Curriculum in Hungary is legislated by a government degree and (by law) it is subject to revision every seven years. The revision targets to reflect on more recent educational and societal needs as well as national and global challenges and future-shaping trends. The National Core Curriculum of Hungary contains a general vision on education, shared values, priority development areas and competences to be developed in thematic areas of general education. The National Core Curriculum serves as a compass to general education in the country while also establishing the set of tasks and minimum criteria according which each and every general educational institutions (including primary, secondary, vocational and special needs schools) and teachers should operate.

The last compulsory revision, which started in 2017, included the revision of the legislative framework, the revision of the subject-related frame curricula and textbooks, communication with all stakeholder groups and preparing practitioners in schools for the expected changes.

The Hungarian educational content regulation framework has been promoting ESD. The National Core Curriculum includes ESD as a cross-curricular assignment. Sustainability is also integrated in the subject-related learning objectives and development tasks, textbooks and school-leaving exams.

The renewed  National Core Curriculum (amendment to the Government Decree 110/2012, in force from 2020) includes ESD as a cross-curricular assignment, and it defines education for sustainability and raising environmental awareness as common development areas (educational objectives) for all literacy subjects and they are also integrated in the subject-related learning objectives and development tasks. With EE integrated in the curriculum already in 1995, ESD has been a crosscutting priority in the National Core Curriculum in Hungary since its previous revision already in 2003 (see Government Decree 243/2003. (XII. 17.) URL:, and the new curriculum will further strengthen this. Topics in the curriculum include prudent use of natural resources, recognition of cultural heritage, sustainable consumption and lifestyles amongst others.

Under the new NCC, schools need to support students in developing their sense of responsibility for the environment and the future of our communities beyond the daily practice of learning and community life, by organizing whole-institutional project days and thematic weeks, by programs calling for students’ collaboration and activities, and by involvement in local, regional, national, and international programs.

In order to help students understand the dangers of irresponsible resource management to biodiversity, and to improve their own responsibility and agency for shaping a sustainable future, the new NCC requires educators to set an example and provide learners with opportunities for gaining knowledge and experience relating to the conscious, economical and responsible use of resources.

The NCC requirements were included in the subject-based curricula (called frame curricula) developing subject-specific knowledge and competences. This ensures that the horizontal educational objectives set out in the NCC, including ESD, can be achieved by general (public) education institutions in a sufficiently diverse way, embedded in a variety of learning and teaching activities, using a combination of approaches across subjects and disciplines.

Textbooks were also revised as well as school-leaving exams. Sustainability is part of school leaving exams at both levels in all science examinations (Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Natural Sciences), in civic studies and is represented as a topic in a number of other examinations (including foreign languages).  This reinforces curricular requirements in output criteria. There will be a new elective examination from 2024 called sustainability (based on a new subject).

There is a new optional subject (and textbook) for secondary schools called Sustainability, in which sustainable production and consumption is highlighted.

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