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In 2023, 3,852 pupils in Slovakia started primary school education in Hungarian, making it the best year for Hungarian school choice since 2006. Maintaining and increasing the number of Hungarian children entering school in Slovakia is a particularly significant achievement in the light of the census data published last year that showed a decline in the Hungarian nationality and mother tongue population over the past almost two decades, reports ma.sk.

In 2023, Slovakia had the highest number of pupils starting primary school education in Hungarian since 2006, (not counting special primary schools,) with a total of 3,852 pupils. The increase recorded in the school year 2023/2024 is particularly remarkable in the light of the fact that the number of Hungarian pupils starting school in Slovakia was already exceptionally high in the previous school year compared to the last two decades, at 3,819.

In the school year 2023/2024, there were 207 fully Hungarian-language primary schools and 24 mixed-language institutions in Slovakia. Out of a total of 231 Hungarian schools and classes, 88 institutions are currently considered at risk, i.e. the number of pupils does not exceed 25 in lower secondary schools and 100 in fully organized schools. With the 2023/2024 school year, three primary schools closed their doors, still being a more favorable figure compared to the five institutions that closed in the previous school year.

The favorable enrollment figures for 2023/2024 are another step in a long-term process. In the current school year, both Hungarian and Slovak school enrollment at the national level exceeded the 2022 figure by about 1%, which may be an indication of favorable demographic trends.

A significant increase of about four and a half times in the education subsidy provided by the Hungarian government under the “Hungarian in the Homeland” (Szülőföldön magyarul) program is likely to have contributed considerably to the further increase in the number of  those enrolling in Hungarian schools.

Two decades after the launch of the Hungarian School Choice Program in 2004, the highest growth in the number of pupils entering Hungarian schools in Slovakia has been achieved in Bratislava (Pozsony) and Košice (Kassa). An important result is that the positive trend of the past years did not break in the 2023/2024 school year: in the two Hungarian-language primary schools in Bratislava, 47 Hungarian first-year pupils started their studies in Hungarian instead of 43 in the previous year, while in Košice, as in 2021 and 2022, 32 Hungarian first-year pupils started their studies in Hungarian- an exceptionally high figure for both cities.

Márai Sándor Hungarian Primary and Secondary School in Košice. Photo: Facebook/Márai Gimi

All this suggests that the attractiveness of high-quality Hungarian-language education remains high among mixed (Hungarian-Slovak) families.


The Hungarian School Choice Program was created by the Rákóczi Association to encourage Hungarian or partly Hungarian families living in border areas outside Hungary to choose Hungarian-language schools for their Hungarian-speaking children. Choosing Hungarian schools ensures the survival of Hungarian communities by passing on the Hungarian language and culture, and provides children with more knowledge and a greater sense of connection through the education of two languages and two cultures.

Looking at the emerging trends, it can be concluded that

by strategically strengthening the position of schools with high quality and talented students, the number of students in Hungarian education can be stabilized or even increased in cities where the Hungarian population is declining.

The figures presented above illustrate that Hungarian school choice in Slovakia has produced significant national policy results over the past almost two decades. All the national policy instruments used in this field, including the Hungarian state’s support for education, but also the Hungarian School Choice Program of the Rákóczi Association and the organization’s school bus network, may have contributed to the positive results of Hungarian school choice.

Last year, 42 new school buses  were handed over to help children in Transylvania (Romania) to attend Hungarian schools. Photo: Hungary Today

Considering that the number of pupils starting Hungarian school in Slovakia has been increasing for years, even in the face of unfavorable demographic data, it can be concluded that

encouraging Hungarian school choice is one of the most successful elements of Hungarian national policy, and its future maintenance is therefore a priority of national strategic interest.

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Via ma.sk, Featured image: Facebook/Potápi Árpád János

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