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Treatment of Jewish Themes in Hungarian Schools

by Monika Kovacs


Monika Kovács's The Treatment of Jewish Themes in Hungarian Schools, which is being published simultaneously in English and Hungarian, is the fourth in a series of reports prepared for the American Jewish Committee's Central and East European Curriculum Review Project. The first three reports dealt with Poland, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia.

This project focuses on countries that have recently emerged from Communist rule. How are Jews likely to fare in these postcommunist societies? A key determinant, most certainly, will be the educational system, which crucially shapes the outlook of the younger generation. What do children in the postcommunist countries of Central and East Europe learn in the classroom about Judaism, Jewish history, the Holocaust, and Israel? Does an exposure to the school curriculum enhance their understanding of Jews and Jewish life, or does it reinforce negative perceptions of Jews? Do students gain some sense of the richness of Jewish history, especially as it relates to their own history? Do they come to appreciate Judaism as a religious phenomenon spanning the ages? Is both the enormity and uniqueness of the Nazi genocide of the Jews made clear to them? Do students become acquainted with the history of modern Israel and contemporary world Jewry in an objective manner?

Professor Kovács considers these questions in the context of the Hungarian school system. Future publications in the series will deal with educational curricula in Ukraine, Russia, Croatia, and Lithuania. By making clear what exists in the educational sphere at present, the Curriculum Review Project seeks to spur curriculum reform where appropriate. Certainly, education should encourage intergroup understanding and not intergroup hostility.

David Singer, Director
Department of Research

You can read the whole study here.