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Hungarian National Core Curriculum (abridged version)

7 January, 2009
NATIONAL CORE CURRICULUM
2007

(abridged version)

Ministry of Education and Culture



Contents

The National Core Curriculum (excerpt)

PART I
THE ROLE OF THE NATIONAL CORE CURRICULUM IN PUBLIC EDUCATION

PART II
COMMON VALUES IN SCHOOL EDUCATION

PART III
FUNDAMENTAL GOALS OF SCHOOL EDUCATION
Development of Key Competences
Key Competences
Key Development Tasks

PART IV
DIFFERENTIATION BASED ON STANDARD PRINCIPLES

PART V
PRINCIPLES OF PROMOTING EQUAL LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES
PART VI
THE NCC AND REGULATION AT LOCAL LEVEL
Common Rules
Special Rules pertaining to Specific Educational Tasks

PART VII
STRUCTURE OF THE NCC



PART I
THE ROLE OF THE NATIONAL CORE CURRICULUM IN PUBLIC EDUCATION

The principal function of the National Core Curriculum (NCC) is to define the principles and the approach which govern the content of public education. Allowing room for the autonomy of individual schools, it defines the general objectives of public education which should be pursued nationwide, the main domains education must cover, the phases of public education in terms of content, and the development tasks which must be fulfilled in the various phases. The NCC lays down the foundations for the body of knowledge to be acquired in school, and thus creates unity in public education.

The principles, goals and tasks formulated in the National Core Curriculum are transposed into documents which are worked out in several versions as these are adjusted to local institutional characteristics and individual learning paths. The institution drawing up and/or the organisation approving such documents are responsible for manifesting in these the values embraced by the NCC. Together with the NCC, the Framework Curricula and Educational Programmes - which convey in more detail the norms established by the NCC or, in the case of vocational education, the requirements defined for the specific vocational fields - serve as guidance for the authors and editors of textbooks, the designers of teaching aids and tools, the developers of state examination requirements and national measurement and assessment tools, and, in particular, the teaching staff of schools who prepare and compile the Local Curricula. The Framework Curricula and the Educational Programmes (pedagogical systems) issued by the Minister for Education and Culture - including Framework Curricula and Educational Programmes produced for the special forms of organising school education and learning - must comply with the following criteria:
  • the system of values embodied in the documents must reflect the common values defined in the NCC;
  • the use of these documents must encourage the enforcement of the rights of students and children and equal learning opportunities;
  • the documents should incorporate the key competences defined in the NCC and their content must stimulate their development;
  • they must clearly follow a coherent and rational paradigm for the specific discipline and subject teaching, as well as the idea of an educated person;
  • they must facilitate differentiated learning and the development of student groups with special educational needs;
  • they must provide feasible guidance for the fulfilment of both the key development tasks and those assigned to the specific cultural domains;
  • they must be open enough to promote further development and adaptive use.
A basic requirement for Local Curricula - and, at the same time, a criterion for their approval - is that they comply with the requirements defined in the NCC. The teaching staff of schools has three options to prepare Local Curricula: (1) the school may adopt a completed Framework Curriculum; (2) it may compile its Local Curriculum based on the available Curricula and Educational Programmes (pedagogical systems); (3) it may draw up its own Local Curriculum. In any case, the requirements set for state examinations must be observed. The NCC promotes the fulfilment of the development tasks in public education also by orienting the training and continuous professional development of teachers, by way of programmes that stimulate innovation in public education, and through its effect on tenders in the field of public education.

The NCC defines the values, the body of knowledge, the epistemology and the concept of learning for the period of compulsory schooling. Its set of development tasks is closely tied to the objectives of the National Core Programme of Kindergarten Education which orients development efforts in early childhood. More than ever, formal, informal and non-formal systems, institutions and organisations of culture and knowledge transfer play a critical role and this is likely to be more so in the future when we can no longer expect compulsory education to disseminate an ultimate, finite body of knowledge. Instead, developing key competences as well as motives and learning abilities that inspire for lifelong learning will assume crucial importance. The development tasks identified in the NCC are open towards the requirements set for and the opportunities offered by vocational education, adult education and other institutions facilitating individual or community self-education.

PART II
COMMON VALUES IN SCHOOL EDUCATION

The values advocated by the NCC are determined by the Constitution of the Republic of Hungary, the Hungarian laws in force, especially the Public Education Act, other Hungarian legislation, international declarations and conventions concerning human rights, children's rights, the rights of national and ethnic minorities, and gender equality. The NCC helps schools operate in a way that teaching and learning processes are organised to promote the values of democracy, humanism, respect for the individual, the freedom of conscience, the development of personality, progress towards cooperation between fundamental communities (family, nation, community of European nations, mankind), equality between peoples, nations, national minority and ethnic groups and genders, solidarity and tolerance. The NCC seeks to strengthen a school system which advances the achievement of equality of chances.

The NCC defines the common content requirements and development tasks of public education in a way so that it propels school education towards contributing to the economic development of Hungary. To enhance long-term environmental and economic sustainability and to promote a greater sense of responsibility in society, the NCC encourages the dissemination of different forms of ethical business and social behaviour. It regards the knowledge and behavioural characteristics that are indispensable for the Hungarian economy to reinforce its position in global economic competition and to maintain sustainable growth to be particularly valuable. It cherishes all values that represent high-level expertise, the sound management of assets, reliability in one's work, the creation of value through work, quality work and an effective participation in the economic arena. It appreciates all efforts directed at the acquisition of knowledge that is the driving force of the modern economy.

The NCC is national because it promotes common national values. Knowing the country and its broader surrounding area, the Carpathian Basin, being familiar with national traditions, and developing a national identity, as much as helping to preserve and maintain the identity of the members of the country's national and ethnic minorities are precious items on its agenda. The NCC encourages students to get acquainted with the life and culture of the minorities that live in the country, and at the same time, in defining the development tasks, it focuses on those European and humanistic values and contents that strengthen our sense of belonging to Europe.

By joining the European Union, each citizen of Hungary became a citizen of a larger social, political, economic and cultural community. Civic education therefore is as much the education of the citizens of the country as that of the European Union.

The NCC seeks to enhance the knowledge of and respect for the history, traditions, culture, customs and lifestyle of other peoples in order to create an openness towards and understanding of the different cultures. In line with the above, the document addresses the common global problems mankind has to cope with. In respect of universal questions that concern the whole world, it stresses the responsibilities, options and duties of the individual, the state, civic organisations and smaller and larger communities in exploiting the opportunities globalisation can offer and in mitigating and eliminating the inherent dangers.

School education is a process that demands massive financial resources as well as considerable time and energy. Thus, it follows that, from the viewpoint of both the adult society and students, the NCC deems the efficiency of teaching and learning processes at school and the viability and usefulness of the knowledge and competences acquired to be of essential value. Therefore, its fundamental goals include the development of key competences that are supremely important for being successful as an adult, the preparation for lifelong learning, and as a precondition of efficiency, a regulation which facilitates the mainstreaming of the procedures and methods in the organisation of learning and a teaching culture which are rooted in a modern, person-oriented, interactive and experience-based form of learning.

PART III
FUNDAMENTAL GOALS OF SCHOOL EDUCATION

Development of Key Competences

The content delivered in school education is in part determined by the public view of general education and the challenges posed by the economy, competitiveness and globalisation. In the countries of the European Union the knowledge and abilities which capacitate all citizens of the EU to quickly and efficiently adapt to this ever-changing modern world and to actively participate in influencing the direction and the content of these changes have been incorporated in the conceptual network of key competences. That is the reason why the system of key competences has evolved into a standard canon of school education.

By virtue of its social and economic function, education plays an essential role in enabling European citizens to acquire the key competences that are indispensable for flexible adaptation to changes, for influencing these changes and for shaping their own future.

Key competences are those competences which every individual needs for personal fulfilment and development, active citizenship, social inclusion and employment.

Each of these is equally important as each can contribute to a successful life in a knowledge-based society. The development of one's learning competence acquires greater value as human capacity for action increases in the process of lifelong learning.

Many of the competences partially overlap and intertwine: elements that are necessary for one competence, support competences in another area. A similar interdependency exists between the key competences and key development tasks. The development tasks of the specific cultural domains encompass the key competences in a complex system. There are several areas of development which form part of all competences, such as critical thinking, creativity, initiative, problem solving, risk assessment, decision-making, and constructive management of feelings.

Key Competences

Communication in the Mother Tongue

Communication in the mother tongue is the ability to express and interpret concepts, thoughts, feelings, facts and opinions both orally and in writing (listening and reading comprehension, text writing) as well as the appropriate and creative use of the language in a full range of societal and cultural contexts such as education and training, work, home life and leisure.

Necessary knowledge, skills and attitudes

Communication in the mother tongue results from the acquisition of the mother tongue, which is intrinsically related to the development of the individual's cognitive faculties. Communication in the mother tongue requires an appropriate vocabulary and knowledge of grammar and the specific functions of language. This proficiency comprises being cognisant of the main types of verbal interaction, a whole range of literary and non-literary texts, the major characteristics of different styles of language use and the variability of language and communication in different situations.

Individuals should have the skills to engage in oral and written communication in various communicative situations, to keep track of the communication and to change it as the situation requires. Individuals must be able to differentiate between and to use different text types, to seek, collect and process information, to use various aids, and to formulate and express his or her own oral and written arguments in a way adequate to the situation.
A positive attitude entails that the individual endeavours to conduct a critical and constructive dialogue, as well as respect for aesthetic quality and desire to get to know others. This demands that one be aware of the effect language has on others and of the significance of socially responsible language use.

Communication in Foreign Languages

Communication in foreign languages is considered to have the same elements as communication in the mother tongue: the ability to understand, express and interpret concepts, thoughts, feelings, facts and opinions in both orally and in writing (listening and reading comprehension, text writing) in an appropriate range of societal and cultural contexts - education and training, work, home life and leisure, in line with one's individual needs. Communication in a foreign language demands other skills, such as mediation and intercultural understanding. The level of proficiency is not necessarily the same for all four dimensions (listening comprehension, speaking skills, reading comprehension and writing skills), and there can be differences between languages or based on the individual's socio-cultural background, environment and needs/interests.

Necessary knowledge, skills and attitudes

Communication in foreign languages is conditional upon the knowledge of vocabulary and functional grammar and the main types of verbal interaction and registers of language. It is also important to be familiar with societal traditions as well as the cultural aspects and diversity of languages.

The skills necessary for communication in foreign languages include the ability to understand oral messages, to initiate, conduct and conclude conversations, and to read, comprehend and create texts in accordance with individual needs. One should also be able to use aids adequately and, as part of lifelong learning, to acquire a foreign language through a non-formal learning path.

A positive attitude entails respect for cultural diversity and interest in and curiosity in languages and intercultural communication.

Mathematical Competence

Mathematical competence is the ability to develop and apply mathematical thinking which also enables an individual to solve a range of problems in everyday situations. The emphasis is as much on process and activity as on knowledge. Mathematical competence - although to different extents - embraces the development and use of abilities related to mathematical modes of thought, the application of mathematical models (formulas, models, constructs, and graphs/charts), as well as an inclination to apply these.

Necessary knowledge, skills and attitudes

Essential knowledge in mathematics include the progressive knowledge of numeracy, measures and structures, basic operations and fundamental mathematical presentations, mathematical notions, correlations and concepts and understanding the questions to which mathematics can give answers.

Having acquired mathematical competence, the individual has the skills to apply basic mathematical principles and processes in the context of knowledge acquisition and problem solving in everyday situations, at home and work. An individual should be able to follow and interpret a chain of arguments, to explain results with the means of mathematics, to understand mathematical reasoning, to communicate in the language of mathematics and to use appropriate resources.

A positive attitude in the field of mathematics rests on the respect for truth and the disposition to seek logical reasons and their validity.

Competences in Natural Science

Competences in science refer to the body of knowledge and methodology employed to explain, to make predictions and to control our actions with regard to the natural world and the processes that take place as a result of interaction between mankind and the natural world. Technological competence is viewed as the application of that knowledge in order to satisfy human desires and needs. This competence entails understanding the changes brought about by human activity and the related individual and public responsibility for sustainable development.

Necessary knowledge, skills and attitudes

For natural science the essential knowledge comprises the main principles of the natural world, the basic scientific concepts and methods, the technological processes as well as the effects human activities have on the natural environment by applying these. Equipped with this knowledge, the individual understands the role scientific theories play in the development of social processes and the benefits, limits and dangers of various applications and technologies in the whole of society (in relation to decision-making, values, issues of morality, culture, etc.).

Having acquired the competences in science, the individual is able to activate his or her scientific and technological knowledge to solve problems at work and in everyday situations. He or she should be able to apply knowledge in a practical manner to get acquainted with and to operate new technologies and equipment, to utilise scientific achievements, solve problems, achieve individual and community goals, and to make decisions that demand technological literacy. This includes a critical approach to pseudo scientific and anti-scientific and anti-technology assertions and a willingness to act in order to create the conditions for sustainable development both at the local and global level.

Competences in science equally presuppose a critical and curious attitude, interest in issues of ethics and respect for safety and sustainability, in particular with regard to the impact scientific and technological development has on us, our families, communities and the Earth.

Digital Competence

Digital competence comprises the confident and critical use of Information Society Technology (IST) for work, communication and leisure purposes. This is based on the following skills and activities: recognising, retrieving, evaluating, storing, creating, presenting and exchanging information as well as communication and cooperation in networks via the Internet.

Necessary knowledge, skills and attitudes

Digital competence refers to the understanding and extensive knowledge of the nature, role and opportunities of IST in personal and social life and work. It includes major computer applications - word processing, spreadsheets, databases, information storage and management, opportunities offered by the Internet and communication via electronic media (e-mail, network devices) - in the context of leisure activities, information sharing, cooperative networking, learning and research. Individuals should understand how IST facilitates creativity and innovation, be aware of problems associated with the authenticity and reliability of information and the ethical principles pertaining to the interactive use of IST.

Necessary skills comprise the ability to search for, collect and process information, use it in a critical way, and distinguish between real and virtual relationships. It includes the use of tools that promote the creation, presentation and interpretation of complex information, access to Internet-based services, conducting research with these tools and the use of IST in critical thinking, creativity and innovation.

The use of IST requires critical and deliberate attitudes towards the responsible use of available information and interactive media. This competence is also encouraged by participation in cultural, social communities and networks and/or those serving professional purposes.

Learning to learn

Learning to learn is the ability to pursue and persist in learning, organise one's own learning both individually and in groups, including effective management of time and information; to recognise the needs and opportunities and to know the process of learning. This, on the one hand, requires the acquisition, processing and assimilation of new knowledge, and seeking and applying guidance, on the other. Learning to learn urges the learner to apply his or her knowledge and skills in a variety of contexts - home, work, learning and training processes - drawing on his or her prior learning and life experience. Motivation and self-confidence are essential elements of this competence.

Necessary knowledge, skills and attitudes

Learning that serves career or work goals requires that an individual has adequate knowledge of the necessary competences, knowledge, abilities, and qualifications. Learning to learn requires an individual to be aware of and understand his or her own learning strategies, the strengths and weaknesses of his or her skills and expertise and to be able to find education and training opportunities and guidance and support available.

Learning to learn presupposes basic skills, such as writing, reading, numeracy, and the use of IST tools. The acquisition, processing and assimilation of new knowledge take place on the basis of these skills. Learning to learn furthermore requires the creation of one's own learning strategy, continuous motivation, focusing of one's attention and a critical deliberation of the motive and aim of learning. Individuals should be able to collaborate with others, to share their knowledge with others, to evaluate their work and, if necessary, to ask for advice, information and support.

A positive attitude presupposes motivation for learning, the on-going maintenance of which is conditional upon the use of prior learning and life experience, search for new learning opportunities and the wide use of what one has learned in all spheres of life.

Social and Civic Competences

Personal, value-oriented, interpersonal, intercultural, social and civic competences are prerequisites for a harmonious life and community integration, a commitment to and activity for the public good. These comprise all forms of behaviour that an individual should master in order to participate in an efficient and constructive way in social and working life, in an increasingly diverse society, and, furthermore, if need be, to resolve conflicts. Civic competence enables an individual to apply his or her knowledge of social processes, structures and democracy in order to actively participate in public affairs.

Necessary knowledge, skills and attitudes

Personal and social well-being demands that one possess knowledge of one's own physical and mental health and understand the decisive role a healthy life style plays in preserving this. Being conscious of the norms and understanding the generally accepted rules of behaviour and codes of conduct are essential for successful relationships and social participation. It is important to be familiar with the basic concepts concerning individuals, groups, work organisation, gender equality, non-discrimination, society and culture. Being aware of the multi-cultural and socio-economic dimensions of European societies and understanding the interaction between national cultural identity and European identity are also desirable components of this competence.

The core skills of this competence include the ability to communicate efficiently in different spheres of life, to consider and to understand various viewpoints, to invoke trust in negotiating partners and to show empathy. Coping with stress and frustration and responsiveness to changes also belong here. As regards attitudes, cooperation, assertiveness and integrity are the most important and so is interest in social and economic development, intercultural communication and the recognition of diversity. An ambition to overcome personal prejudices and to reach compromise is a further relevant element of this attitude.

Civic competence is based on the knowledge of the concept of democracy, citizenship and civil rights as defined in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and in other international declarations and as applied at local, regional, national, European and international level. This competence incorporates an awareness of current events, the major events and tendencies of national, European and world history as well as the goals, values and policies of social and political movements. This extends to being familiar with the idea of European integration and the EU's structures, main objectives and values as well as an awareness of European diversity and cultural identity.

Skills for civic competence requires abilities such as efficient cooperation in public matters, as well as solidarity with and interest in resolving problems that concern the local and broader community. This includes critical and constructive analysis of community activities and decisions made at various levels - from local to national and European level - as well as participation in decision-making, primarily through voting.

Positive attitudes are based on full respect for human rights, including respect for equality and democracy, and understanding the cultural diversity of religious and ethnic groups. This further implies a sense of belonging to the locality, the country, the EU and Europe in general, an openness to participating in all levels of democratic decision-making as well as a demonstration of responsibility and acceptance of and respect for the common values that ground community cohesion (e.g. respect for democratic principles). Constructive participation also entails a supportive attitude towards civic activities, social diversity, social cohesion, and sustainable development no less than respect for others' values and privacy.

Sense of Initiative and Entrepreneurship

Sense of initiative and entrepreneurship helps an individual both in everyday life and at work to get to know his or her broader environment and to be able to grasp the opportunities that lie ahead. This competence comprises knowledge, creativity, propensity to induce changes and risk-taking as well as developing and implementing plans in order to achieve objectives. It serves as a basis for more specific knowledge and skills which are needed for the pursuit of economic activities.

Necessary knowledge, skills and attitudes

Necessary knowledge, on the one hand, involves recognising and analysing the opportunities and challenges for personal, professional and/or business activities, on the other hand, a broader understanding of how the economy and the world of money works. Individuals should also be conversant with the financial and legal conditions of businesses.

Skills and abilities such as planning, organising, leading, managing, delegating, analysing, communicating, evaluating experiences, as well as risk assessment and risk-taking, individual and team work are part of this competence.

A positive attitude is characterised by independence, creativity and innovation in personal and societal contexts, as much as at work. It is conditional upon motivation and determination to achieve goals, be they personal, shared or work related goals or efforts.

Aesthetic and Artistic Awareness and Expression

Aesthetic and artistic awareness and expression involves an appreciation of aesthetic perception and the importance of expressing - either in the language of traditional arts or with the help of the media - ideas, experiences and emotions in a creative way. This encompasses, in particular, literature, music, dance, drama, puppet play, visual arts, the culture of objects, buildings, spaces, as well as the modern forms of artistic expression, photography and motion picture.

Necessary knowledge, skills and attitudes

Aesthetic and artistic awareness and expression presupposes an awareness of local, national, European and universal cultural heritage, of the position an individual or his or her communities have in the world, and the competent and empathetic appreciation of major works of art also with regard to popular contemporary culture and forms of expression. This further entails an understanding of the need to preserve the cultural and linguistic diversity of Europe (European countries, nations and minorities), the development of general taste and the role aesthetic experience plays in our everyday life.

Skills such as artistic self-expression, analysis of works of art and performances, comparing one's points of view with the opinion of others, and recognising and exploiting the economic opportunities in cultural activities are all part of this competence.

Positive attitudes are rooted in openness to the diverse forms of artistic expression and an inclination to develop one's aesthetic sense. Openness, interest and sensitivity enhance creativity and the skills of enriching our self-knowledge, human relationships and finding one's way in the world through artistic self-expression and participation in cultural life.

Key Development Tasks

The key development tasks of the National Core Curriculum build upon the key competences. They link the introductory phases with the development tasks of the individual cultural domains.

Self-image and Self-knowledge

The way one relates to oneself, the conception one has of oneself, the inner dispositions of a person develop through one's perceptive and creative activity as much as other personal traits do. We ourselves determine the course of activity we take, and the intensity and quality of the activity greatly depend on the perception we have of ourselves, our abilities, needs and desires, and on what we expect from ourselves. The values and competences designated in the National Core Curriculum can only be assimilated into students' self-image and become factors that determine their behaviour if the students themselves contribute to the designation and identification of the values, understand their consequences and learn how the knowledge and skills acquired work and can be used. For students to be able to integrate the knowledge and skills acquired and the attitudes and motives that help learning into their self-perception and self-reflection, it must be ensured throughout the whole teaching and learning process that students feel ever more competent in shaping their own development, future and career. In developing one's relation to oneself, getting to know oneself, self-control, responsibility for oneself, self-reliance, the need for self-development, the related activities, and as a result of all these, personal dignity should be considered as essential goals.

Homeland and Peoples

It is essential for students to know the peculiar features of the cultural heritage of our people and the historic values of our national culture. Students are expected to study the activities and the work of prominent Hungarian figures of history, scientists, inventors, artists, writers, poets, athletes, and to get acquainted with the geography, literature, history and everyday life of their country. They should acquire the knowledge and practice the individual and community activities which lead to the understanding and appreciation of and identification with their home, residence, homeland, country and its peoples. They should become familiar with the traditions and characteristics of urban and rural life.

Cultivating a harmonious relationship with the natural and social environment, laying down the foundations for a national identity, deepening one's consciousness as a member of a nation and one's sense of patriotism, and, inseparably linked thereto, respect for the values, history and traditions of other peoples and ethnic groups living in the country and the neighbouring areas are all important tasks. The NCC encourages young people to explore and to preserve the historic, cultural and religious memories, relics and traditions of their immediate and broader environment and to pursue individual and community activities to this end.

European Identity - Universal Culture

Europe is the larger home of Hungarian people. Students must get acquainted with the history of the formation of the European Union, its constitution, institutional structure and its political principles. They should be able to embrace this larger range of opportunities both as students and as adults, and become European citizens while maintaining their Hungarian identity.

During their school education, students should accumulate knowledge and gain personal experiences which enable them to find their place in the European open societies. It is also important that through the reinforcement of their European identity, they be also open and receptive to cultures outside Europe.

Students should become conversant with the most typical and influential achievements of universal human civilization. They should become open and sympathetic to the diverse customs, lifestyles, cultures, religions and otherness. They should collect information on the common and global problems of mankind and on international cooperation built up to cope with these. They should develop a greater sensitivity to the core and causes of problems, to underlying relationships and to seeking and exploring possible solutions. Schools and students should strive to take part directly in nurturing international relations.

Education for Active Citizenship and Democracy

In a democratic constitutional state the development of society, personal fulfilment, and often one's happiness are, among others, conditional upon one's participation in civil society, the residential, professional or cultural community and/or political life. A participation that is characterised by the possession of adequate knowledge, mutual compliance with the rules of societal co-existence, and the absence of violence, and is driven by the respect for human rights and the values of democracy. One of the major tasks of the public education system of the Republic of Hungary is to provide formal, non-formal and informal learning opportunities that help students become active citizens.

Active citizenship presupposes knowledge, abilities, the appropriate attitude and motivation. The cultural domain 'Man and Society' includes the relevant knowledge content, and the development of abilities, value orientations, and attitudes may take place through the entire process of learning at school and participation in school life. The development of partial abilities (e.g. ability to identify social relations, ability to recognise the right to equal treatment, conflict management, humanitarian assistance, and ability to cooperate), value orientations and attitudes (e.g. responsibility, autonomous action, reliability, tolerance, socially accepted behaviour) necessary for active citizenship is, for the most part, ensured by the quality of teaching and learning organisation processes, which build upon students' active involvement, and democratic practices at school.

Economic Education

Without knowledge in financial management and monetary affairs, we would not be able to understand a fairly large proportion of the processes that concern us; such knowledge has become an integral part of our general education. Neither a democracy, nor a market economy can operate without individuals who understand the basic relationships within the economy and who can manage their assets astutely. It is for the good of each and every country that strives to achieve financial security and wishes to hold on in the arena of global competition to have citizens who are open to economic affairs. It is an indispensable condition also for society that its members develop a positive attitude toward value-creating work, management of assets, and economic reason. They should comprehend the way consumption is an engine of the economy, the relevance of their own behaviour as consumers and the responsibility it entails.

School education has a key role in educating conscious consumers and to ensure that students can assess the potential risks, profits or costs associated with their decisions. They should recognise the connection between sustainable consumption and their personal interests. School education should also contribute to the development of the ability to strike a balance between short-term and long-term benefits and stimulate the ability to manage the available resources, including the ability to handle money. Making wise decisions when it comes to loans or savings is not only the essential interest of an individual, but also that of society. This is one reason why school education should devote sufficient attention also to the development of management and finance related abilities, and the ability to manage one's assets in an astute manner and being aware of consumer goods, services, marketing effects and behaviours should be regarded as an important part of personality development.

Education for Environmental Awareness

The comprehensive goal of education for environmental awareness is to help students develop their behaviour and way of living in a manner so that the rising generation is able to protect the environment facilitating thereby the conservation of the natural environment and the sustainable development of societies.

Sustainable development requires lifelong learning so that informed and active citizens will grow up who think creatively, find their way in the spheres of nature, the environment, society, law and the economy, and take responsibility for their individual or shared actions.

This can be achieved by special focus on the development of students' way of thinking in the field of natural sciences. If students become sensitive to the condition of their environment then they will be able to interpret and produce a basic analysis of the specific features and qualitative changes of the environment, to recognise and conserve the natural and artificial values of the environment, and to undertake their civic commitments and to exercise their rights with regard to the environment. Environmentally friendly conduct that is based on one's knowledge of the environment and personal responsibility should be a moral principle that determines the life conduct of students both at individual and community level.

During their education for environmental awareness, students should become familiar with current processes which make our planet suffer from symptoms that suggest an environmental crisis. They should learn through concrete domestic examples what positive and negative effects socio-economic development has on an individual in view of the environmental consequences. They should understand the relationship between consumption and natural resources and the principle of sustainable consumption.

Students should be involved in the preservation and enhancement of the values of their close environment. Respect for nature, responsibility and the prevention of environmental adverse effects should be a dominant factor in their way of living. They should gain first-hand experience in the shared management and settlement of environmental conflicts.

Learning to Learn

Learning is the permanent alteration of one's psyche stimulated by external factors, and is therefore not merely the acquisition of knowledge and discipline or the operation of one's memory. In a broader sense, it includes the evolution and development of all cognitive faculties and the personality as a whole. This is the fundamental task of schools.

Many elements of learning can be learned. It is the duty of all teachers to pique students' interest in the topics the various subjects cover, to give guidance with regard to the acquisition of the materials taught, its structure and availability, and to teach children how to learn. They should aim at helping students to gradually achieve self-reliance in organising their learning experience, and should contribute to the creation of favourable conditions (external conditions). Based on their experiences and observations, students should get acquainted with and be aware of their own psychological traits. Making students learn the methods and techniques of efficient learning, develop a desire for and habit of self-education, and the use of libraries and other sources of information encompass the following: developing basic skills (of reading comprehension, writing skills, and numeracy), utilising prior knowledge and experience; designing customised methods and procedures of learning; methods of group learning, cooperative work; enhancing memory, establishing expedient methods of storing knowledge; improving one's way of thinking; developing the need for and a habit of self-education; getting acquainted with the tools of lifelong learning and acquiring its methods.

The school library and its IT base are an important stage and tool of learning. Even in a school setting traditional classroom instruction is supplemented with individual forms of learning which requires quick access to a variety of information sources. The use of library is essential in all branches of knowledge. To accumulate knowledge independently, students must learn the techniques and methods of how to build up knowledge in the library by the use of both hard copies and electronic documents. They must be familiar with library search methods, search tools, the main types of documents and the informative value and role of these in learning. They must develop the technique of data collection, topic processing, and the use of sources, as well as the strategy of searching the Internet.

Learning can be organised outside school as well. Possible venues of learning include, for example, museums, exhibition halls, the place of artistic performance or even the 'open air'.

The learning process has been greatly transformed by the application of IT tools and electronic teaching aids. This provides new opportunities for knowledge transfer, experimental learning and forming the methods of group learning.

An important task for teachers is to get to know the particular learning methods, strategies, styles and habits of students. They should consider the age-specific and personal characteristics of acquisition and base the development of learning thereon. They should carefully search and select the object-related/active, demonstrative/visual, and abstract/verbal courses of development and to fill these with realistic, life-like content. They should make efforts to develop thinking abilities, primarily the ability to systematise, to make observations based on real situations or simulated experiments and to combine, and to reach conclusions and solve problems, with special regard to the enhancement and everyday use of analysis, synthesis, comparison, induction and deduction. Such knowledge is the aim as is applicable in new situations. Inventing new ideas, i.e. the development of creative thinking should be foregrounded. In addition, it is worth focusing on students' decision-making, mapping out alternatives, the manifold application of variations, risk-taking, evaluation and reasoning. Enhancing critical thinking, managing conflicts, developing a balanced life, improving the quality of life, creating emotional stability, and organising a more rewarding life are all important tasks.

External experts can also be involved in the process of teaching and learning. The head of school is responsible for the selection of the external expert, and for consistence between the knowledge transferred by the external expert and the school's educational programme. External experts may take part in the teaching process during the class with the teacher appointed for that purpose attending and controlling the learning process from a pedagogical point of view.

Physical and Mental Health

Schools are entrusted with the crucial function and enormous responsibility to teach the rising generations how to live a healthy life. In all of their activities schools should support the wholesome physical, mental and social development of students. Their staff and infrastructure should promote the development of positive attitudes, behaviours and habits which favourably shape students' and youth's approach to a healthy lifestyle.

Education for a healthy life not only extends to teaching how to prevent diseases, but also how to enjoy healthy living and appreciate harmonious life as a valuable condition. Teachers must prepare children and youth for making the right lifestyle choices independently, for living their life in a healthy way and being capable of resolving conflicts. They should advocate a receptive and helpful behaviour towards people with illness, disorders or disabilities. They should acquaint students with the most frequent factors in their environment - primarily in the household, school and traffic and hazardous substances - that can put their health or physical integrity at risk. They should prepare students for individual and communal prevention and management of emergencies. Schools also have the task to prepare students for participating in traffic independently as pedestrians, using various means of public transport and the ways passenger accidents can be avoided. Attention should be paid to the proper handling (identification, storage) of and the most important rules pertaining to hazardous substances and preparations. They should provide assistance to children - especially to adolescents - with the prevention of adopting habits that can lead to harmful addictions (e.g. smoking, alcohol and drug consumption, and malnutrition). An unavoidable duty of schools is to address the questions of sexual culture and behaviour, and prepare students for family life and responsible, rewarding relationships. Habits underlying a healthy and harmonious life can be developed through the active and efficient participation of students. It is important that the school environment is also conducive to healthy physical, mental and social development. The life style adopted by teachers has a great influence on this.

Preparing for Adulthood

Career orientation is one of the most essential elements of preparing for adulthood with the general aim of helping students choose their further education and profession. It comprises the following components: development of self-knowledge by getting to know one's individual endowments and abilities; getting acquainted with major careers, occupational branches and the pathways, opportunities and alternatives that lead to them through activities and experience. Students must be made aware that they might have to shift occupations several times during their career.

Schools must provide a comprehensive overview of the world of work suited to the age of students and as the circumstances allow. To this end, such conditions and activities must be ensured as they can enable students to test their abilities and immerse themselves in their subjects of interest in order to improve their self-knowledge and become more conversant with the different occupations.

Career orientation can be successful only during a longer process and if it is based on the alignment of the various subjects and extra-class and extracurricular areas and activities. Flexibility and the ability to manage cooperation and uncertainty should receive marked attention both at individual and social level.

The effective social integration, co-existence and participation of students demand the conscious and pedagogically planned development of social and civic competences. This means that a system of social motives must be designed and reinforced which conveys economic and social benefits alike. The acquisition of social competence has as one of its priority tasks the development of behaviours related to assistance, cooperation, management and competition. Areas that deal with the economy, conscious consumer behaviour and the enhancement of competitiveness (e.g. entrepreneurial, management and work capacity) form an important part of the improvement of social and civic competences.

PART IV
DIFFERENTIATION BASED ON STANDARD PRINCIPLES

Content regulation in the NCC permits diverse and differentiated activities of both schools, teachers and students built upon the common foundation that serves unity. It allows for the promotion of the values and interests of school maintaining authorities, parents and students, and the professional efforts of teachers while taking into account the given circumstances, conditions and possibilities as well. It allots sufficient time for schools and students to process, acquire and supplement the syllabus, to fulfil the requirements and to satisfy their special needs.

In this day and age, the body of knowledge mankind possesses has increased to an extent never experienced before. The swift development of sciences, the new forms of social needs and the numerous challenges society has to cope with (including several factors jeopardising the physical and mental integrity of children) impose unusual tasks on schools, teacher training and in-service teacher training. Knowledge contents which are difficult to be classified under the traditional system of disciplines or which belong to the scope of several disciplines have emerged. Therefore, there is an increased need to integrate traditional subjects and/or to grasp them in an interdisciplinary way on the one hand, and to design new subjects, on the other. An important educational criterion is that the integrative and inter-subject curricular approach should also take into account the interests and experience of the students. The National Core Curriculum ensures the prevalence of this approach by not defining a single system of subjects which each school would be liable to follow, rather, it delegates the task of its creation to be undertaken when drafting the Framework and Local Curricula.

The values, the development tasks and the differentiation based thereon defined in the NCC all serve the aim of enabling students to develop - in line with their endowments, advancement, school and extra-school learning efforts, other activities and experience gained in an organised or spontaneous manner - their personalities to the greatest possible extent.

By defining the development tasks that are requisite to the cultivation of the abilities of children, adolescents and youth, the NCC encourages education that promotes personality development. This can only be effective if the Educational Programme (and therein the Local Curriculum) of institutions allows room for a colourful and versatile school life, learning, play, and work; if it improves the self-knowledge of students, their ability and willingness to cooperate; if it contributes to the gradual development and foundation of their lifestyles, motives, habits and assimilation of values. The NCC advocates educational efforts which are organised around the development of students' knowledge, abilities and personality, considering that education and teaching takes place not only at the school, but also in other spheres of social life and activity.

One of the conditions for the efficient development of key competences is the teaching process and activity which are adequate to the development goals. The NCC represents an approach according to which teaching is but the organisation of the learning efforts of students: its planning, control, regulation and assessment. A teacher who is aware of the motivation, abilities, interests and learning habits of his or her students, is likely to succeed with the duties of organising learning. The optimal solution of organising learning certainly takes more than a qualified teacher, a wide range of educational infrastructure is also needed: books, printed learning material, equipment for performing experiments, IT programmes, programme kits and other tools. The following criteria are especially important for the differentiated organisation of learning:
  • Preference for organisation solutions which promote the acquisition and development of the internal motivation and self-controlling mechanisms of learning.
  • The optimal exploration of students' activity is a dominant criterion for the organisation of learning.
  • Organisation of the process of education should facilitate the exploration of students' existing proficiencies, knowledge and views and it should allow for the correction of their potential errors, flaws, and the re-organisation of their knowledge.
  • The education process should employ the techniques and forms of cooperative learning.
  • The different organisational forms of school teaching and learning (class activity, teaching in groups, working in pairs, partly or wholly individual learning) should focus on the activities, self-reliance, initiative, problem solving and creativity of students.
  • One of the major principles and duties of organising learning are differentiation in assignments, their fulfilment, control, evaluation, and the degree of assistance provided by the teacher in a way so that these suit individual students optimally.
  • Applying techniques of learning organisation that suit the given assignment is indispensable for developing the abilities of disadvantaged students.
  • Without the use of special solutions for organising learning, the tasks of educating and teaching children who require special treatment and have special educational needs, and students with learning and other difficulties or behavioural disorders cannot be accomplished.
  • There are a number of solutions for organising learning which can help cooperation and the use of organisational forms (e.g. comprehensive) that promote equal learning opportunities both in the sphere of cooperation between schools, and out-of-school and in-school activities.
  • The use of ICT and computers offers vast possibilities for organising learning in a way so that it focuses on the adaptive education of students.
PART V
PRINCIPLES OF PROMOTING EQUAL LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES

It is the statutory right of every school-aged student to receive an education that is best for him or her. To enforce this right, schools (in cooperation with the school's maintaining authority, the family, guardians, professional and civil organisations) should provide for the conditions necessary for education and teaching in accordance with the following principles:
  • founding and strengthening key competences in grades 1-6, continuous, customised development and the expansion of key competences in the subsequent phases of school education;
  • identifying the learning difficulties of students, providing assistance for solving their problems in the entire process and all areas of school education;
  • a fundamental condition for the effective promotion of equal learning opportunities is exploring the personality of students and applying suitable educational methods;
  • identifying and improving/cultivating outstanding - compared to themselves and others - performance and talents of students during the class, other school sessions and supporting this activity outside the school;
  • using adaptive procedures for the organisation of learning (see previous Chapter);
  • using standard, differentiated and customised learning requirements and assessment/evaluation procedures.
PART VI
THE NCC AND REGULATION AT LOCAL LEVEL

Common Rules

The Role of the NCC in Local Regulation

In its specific articles, the Public Education Act establishes a strong connection between the National Core Curriculum and local, school-level regulation. Local Educational Programmes and Curricula can only fulfil their statutory function if they pursue the values, principles, objectives and key development tasks formulated in the National Core Curriculum.

Defining Common Values

The National Core Curriculum defines the common values of school education and teaching. Each and every school - regardless of its maintaining authority - must ensure that students acquire the basic ethical norms and competences. It is the schools' responsibility to determine how these norms and competences should be acquired and as part of which cultural domain. Schools maintained by the State or a local government are not allowed to be committed to any religious or secular ideology. They must respect parents' right to decide according to what ideology they wish to educate their children. Schools must provide for in their Educational Programmes the objective and multi-perspective transfer of religious knowledge and ideologies without adopting a position or coercing students to adopt a position on the validity of these. Teachers may express their own convictions, but in no way can they urge students to endorse their opinions.

Student Assessment

A particularly important area of local regulation is the definition of the rules, norms, means and forms of student assessment. The Educational Programme can designate the subjects or curricular parts where there is no need to assess or grade student performance, and it can dispense with evaluating and grading conduct and diligence. However, student performance and progress should by all means be assessed and graded for those subjects in which students must or can sit a state examination. In addition to the system of state examinations, schools may set up their own examination system, introduce year-end written tests or "a mock school leaving examination", etc. It is important to stress that student assessment, the marks awarded during the school year, their rating, and the term-end and year-end marks received can only be appealed if the evaluation process laid down in the Local Curriculum has been violated. A remedial procedure can only be initiated if the action of the teacher is in conflict with the rules of the Local Curriculum, if it contradicts the provisions concerning student status. Term-end or year-end marks can be challenged if they were influenced by a mark received for a test which was administered in violation of the Local Curriculum.

Progress to Higher Grades

The Local Curriculum of schools should also define the conditions which must be fulfilled for a student to progress to a higher grade in school. The Public Education Act lays down the most relevant principle: students may progress to a higher grade or a vocational grade in school if they have fulfilled all academic requirements. Whether such requirements have been successfully fulfilled can be determined on the basis of the evaluation criteria and concrete requirements defined in the school's Local Curriculum which cannot prohibit the retake of a failed examination or repetition of the specific grade in the case of a failed retake examination.

Students may not necessarily achieve the same performance by the same time. Teaching staffs are entitled to allow a student to enrol to a higher grade even if he or she underperforms in the given branch of knowledge. It is basically the school's Educational Programme that defines under what conditions a student can be instructed to repeat a grade in the given school or if a student can be instructed to repeat a grade at all.

Homework

The local regulation should lay down the rules of homework assignments. The regulation is appropriate in professional terms and acceptable for students and parents if it takes into account the daily learning capacity of students with average abilities and average preparedness, the weekly schedule of school instruction, and if it properly considers the requirement of allotting the necessary leisure time for students. The local regulation must coordinate the quantity and distribution of more demanding written tests which can be given on specific school days, especially on the first school day of the week.

There are no homework assignments in boarding schools as students prepare for the following school day during daylong instruction.

Non-subject Specific Education

In the framework of non-subject specific education there is no need to categorise the branches of knowledge into subjects (in certain cases even division into subjects can be done away with), whereby during this phase of school education it is possible to devote more attention to the development of basic skills and abilities. Pursuant to the relevant statutory rules, the Local Curriculum may take advantage of the limitation of grade repetition in non-subject specific education up to grade 6. In grades 5 and 6 of primary school - as stipulated by the Public Education Act - 25 to 50 percent of the available time frame of instruction must be allotted to non-subject specific education. In secondary schools with 12 grades, the full time frame can be devoted to non-subject specific education in grades 1 to 6. According to the relevant statutory provisions, in grades 5 and 6 learning is organised in a manner so as to incorporate both the provision structure of the lower grades and that of the upper grades. Their relative proportion may be freely decided by schools, and in certain cases even varying by classes. Development of basic skills and abilities is not tied to a specific subject. Hence, for example, the development of reading comprehension can be undertaken as part of any subject.

Tasks of Personality and Community Development

Certain tasks cannot be accomplished through education during one or maybe several grades and they cannot be associated with any particular cultural domain or subject. Schools must often provide for the development of skills and dissemination of knowledge that must be present in the activities of nearly all teachers, adjusted to the given student group, the age, personality and preparedness of the students concerned. These tasks constitute the essence of a school's educational activity by which it disseminates value with the primary aim of personality and community development.

These include
  • knowledge of ethics,
  • development tasks that promote the strengthening of family and community relations and related knowledge,
  • ability to recognise and raise awareness of prejudices,
  • preparation for preserving physical and mental health,
  • crime prevention,
  • drug abuse prevention,
  • education for consumer protection.
In this scope every teacher has his or her part to play, adjusting task implementation to the activity of the given class or his or her work outside the class.

The Open School

There is no effective educational activity without the active contribution of parents. Schools and teachers also have the duty to give assistance to parents with the education of their children. To be able to carry out the educational tasks in school, a teacher needs information only a parent can give, with the help of which the factors either facilitating or hindering the development of a student can be explored. Schools must, therefore, create and regularly operate those fora that inform parents of the school's activity, allow for opinions and suggestions to be received and considered on their merits.

Special Rules pertaining to Specific Educational Tasks

Principles relating to the Education of Students with Special Educational Needs

The standard development tasks as identified in the NCC should form the basis of the education of students with special educational needs. In the course of this education, the tasks of education should be organised in line with the opportunities, limitations and special needs of students and by observing the following principles:
  • longer periods and time frames should be allotted to the completion of tasks where necessary;
  • if necessary, special contents and requirements adjusted to the disability should be specified and satisfied;
  • schools should assist students through helpful discrimination, differentiation, and individually, mainly by evaluating their development in comparison to themselves.
The duties pertaining to the specific types of disabilities are set out in more detail in the Curricular Guidelines for the School Education of Students with Special Educational Needs and the examination regulations.

Principles relating to the Education of National and Ethnic Minorities

The objective of the education of national and ethnic minorities is to strengthen students' identity as members of a national minority community. This is achieved through disseminating the minority language and culture and raising awareness of the special situation of the national minority in accordance with the following principles:
  • the free 'room' left in the Local Curricula is generally smaller due to the compulsory number of teaching hours to be allocated for the language and the history, traditions and culture of the national minority; this shortcoming should be remedied by a more emphatic integration of the cultural domains and a deliberate structuring of key development tasks at the level of local curricular regulation;
  • when allocating teaching hours, the teaching of a major foreign language must also be ensured;
  • schools' educational and teaching activities should guarantee the development of skills and abilities in line with the general requirements in every cultural domain.
Further details concerning special requirements are contained in the Guidelines for the Education of National and Ethnic Minorities.

Principles relating to Vocational School Education

The standard tasks defined in the NCC constitute the basis for provision also in grades 9 and 10 of vocational school education, which must be organised as appropriate to the actual and already-developed abilities of students, in accordance with the following principles:
  • the tasks of the foundation phase and the development phase can be combined as necessary with special focus on the simultaneous foundation of competences and abilities;
  • the tasks of the phase of consolidating the general body of knowledge can be undertaken in those areas where the tasks of the development phase have already been accomplished;
  • executing the tasks of the consolidation phase is primarily desirable in those areas which are connected to the development of competences that are necessary for preparation for vocational education and which build upon such competences.
The Relationship between Dormitory and School Education
Dormitory education is an integral part of the institutional system of public education. Dormitory education is linked to curricular school processes first and foremost through the key development tasks identified in the NCC. Its most important principles are outlined in the National Core Programme of Dormitory Education. Dormitory education must facilitate the performance of the educational and teaching tasks of the schools concerned.

PART VII
STRUCTURE OF THE NCC

The NCC defines the content of public education in terms of cultural domains. The subject system of individual schools is defined in the Local Curricula taking the various cultural domains into account. The 12 grades of compulsory education is a uniform process of development, broken down into four educational phases. The development tasks specified in the NCC are rendered to these phases. From a pedagogical point of view, the first six grades are uniform. The educational phases defined in the NCC are the following:

Grades 1-4
Grades 5-6
Grades 7-8
Grades 9-12

As opposed to the phases established in the NCC, the Public Education Act divides the first eight primary school grades of compulsory education into four educational phases. The school policy embodied in the Act describes the major features of the specific phases as follows.

The introductory phase is defined in two years and is a precondition for successful transition from kindergarten to school: the first two years are oriented towards more time-intensive forms of activities and learning organisation which are characteristic of kindergarten education. The regulation leaves considerable room for personal interests in the fields of performance motivation and the development of abilities and allows for the management of individual differences which are particularly significant at this age. At the end of this phase - due to its function - there is no need to define school performance in terms of requirements and to evaluate by grading. This is the reason why the NCC does not regard the first two grades as a separate educational phase.

In line with the above, the initial phase means that during this phase the teaching and learning processes that are defined through school performance requirements become more emphatic, even dominant by the end of the fourth grade. Motivation and the organisation of learning focuses on performance which is also expressed in the development tasks of the NCC.

The chief function of the foundation phase is the foundation of key competences and sets of abilities necessary for learning in school. It is in this phase that the knowledge transmitted at school (and the teaching process) are arranged into subjects, which demands the targeted foundation of abilities and competences necessary for and associated with this type of learning.

The main goal of the development phase - in connection with the previous phases and also in conjunction with the varying and increasingly complex knowledge contents - is to develop the competences already founded, i.e., their reinforcement, expansion, refinement and enhancement of their efficiency and variability.

The phase of consolidating the general body of knowledge starts in grade 9 and lasts until the end of grade 10 or 11. Its function is to consolidate the general body of knowledge received in school in a differentiated manner, with competences required for preparing for vocational education, career selection and employment. The general body of knowledge received at school is a complex and ever changing system. It consolidates the basic factors and components of knowledge through the content-based development of abilities.

The phase of deepening the general body of knowledge and and of career orientation starts in grade 11 or 12 and lasts until the end of grade 12 or grade 13. Its basic task is to align the development tasks of the NCC with the requirements of the secondary school leaving examination in line with students' interests and faculties. This phase is primarily characterised by efforts to increase awareness of the competence expectations of the labour market and the key competences of the NCC.

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