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Expensive, Publicly-Funded, Elite School Opens in Debrecen

Ábrahám Vass 2019.09.04.

Two days ago, the International School of Debrecen (ISD) officially started operating with an initial number of 57 pupils, offering high-level education for children from kindergarten age to the end of secondary school. Although the institution is entirely publicly funded, its extremely expensive tuition fee is unaffordable for most Hungarians.

The state-of-the-art private school has been set up in Debrecen’s Pallag neighbourhood, and in total, 3.8 billion HUF (Eur 12,1 million) of public funds have been allocated for the setup of the school in the framework of the government’s Modern Cities Program. The school will work within a prestigious international educational system called International Baccalaureate (IB), but the degree it issues will be accepted in Hungary as well. The institution also plans to be part of other high-quality international accreditation systems that guarantee results. This, of course, means state-of-the-art equipment, modern teaching methods, and highly-qualified staff as well.

Government-critical weekly HVG noted that while in Hungary there are a number of “elite” schools, this is the first founded by and paid for by the state, thus by tax-payers, while its tuition fees are unaffordable for most Hungarians. Completion of ISD -from kindergarten to final matriculation exams- would cost around 45 million HUF (Eur 144 thousand). In the kindergarten, a year costs 7,510 euro, while for the two classes preceding the final exams, parents would pay as much as 14,550 euros a year. This doesn’t include several additional costs, such as a one-off application fee, school bus usage, or daily meals.

In September, fifty-six (mostly Hungarian), pupils started their studies there, which is more than what was originally planned for the first year. This number is expected to rise to around five hundred over the upcoming five-six years.  This adds to the sixty-strong, highly-qualified teaching staff selected from all around the world. More importantly, ISD is planned to be self-sustaining by 2025. Until then, the Municipality of Debrecen will pay the running costs.

PMO Chief Gergely Gulyás, Mayor László Papp (l1), director János Öreg (r2) and Fidesz-KDNP MPs László Tasó (l2) and Lajos Kósa (r1) at the opening ceremony. Image by MTI/Zsolt Czeglédi

At the opening ceremony, PMO Chief Gergely Gulyás said that Debrecen’s transformation into a cross-border regional centre would be impossible to sustain without such a high-level international school. ISD’s website states: “The municipality of Debrecen considers the school as one of the key factors in attracting high-value foreign direct investment, and facilitating economic development in the region.”

While it isn’t yet available, Gulyás also said that talented students in and around the city whose parents cannot afford the fees can apply for scholarships from the local council as of next year.

Interestingly, this is not the only expensive “elite” school opening in the region. In Miskolc, international energy-drink manufacturer Hell Group, which runs a factory in nearby Szikszó, opened the Avalon International School on the same day.

featured image: ISD- Facebook