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«OECD/CERI ICT PROGRAMME Hungarian case study No. 2 A Case Study of ICT and School Improvement at FRIGYES KARINTHY BILINGUAL SECONDARY GRAMMAR SCHOOL, ...»

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Hungarian case study No. 2

A Case Study of ICT and School Improvement at



June 2001, Budapest

Andrea Kárpáti, Team Leader Gabriella Frank, Researcher Péter Gyenei, Researcher László Hutai, Researcher UNESCO Chair for ICT in Education, Eötvös Loránd University Budapest, Hungary 1. Overview of the present In the Frigyes Karinthy Bilingual Secoindary School, Budapest (abbreviation in this text: Karinthy) the word KEKSZ (in English: CAKES) does not call a piece of dessert to the minds of students in the fist place. When they hear the word, they are more likely to remember exciting free time activities, challenges well met and adventures that are not forgotten long after most facts and figures learnt for the final examination will have faded into oblivion..

The concepts abridged as KEKSZ can be translated like this: Creativity, Effort, Community Building and Service. All students of this school are obliged to get involved in at least one of the extracurricular activities offered and develop creativity, make effort, contribute to community building through rendering service to peers. In one of the best grammar schools of the country as measured by successful entrance examinations to the most prestigious universities, living in an extremely rich ICT environment, students are educated to be dedicated team members as well as successful individuals.

KEKSZ experiences create a bonding with the school that often lasts much longer than the compulsory years of education. Graduates will come back to teach novices the ethos of togetherness. In a more and more individualistic, yuppie-like youth culture, this feature is perhaps one of the most important merits of this school.

Picture 1: The building of the Karinthy School has won a prestigious award for its architect and was declared one of the most beautiful and functionally superior school buildings in the country.

http://intradev.oecd.org/els/ict/HU/HU02.htm (1 of 22) [06-12-2001 2:34:19 PM]


1.1 What has been accomplished?

"Built in 1986 to the highest specifications, the Gimnazium has been designed to create an academic and purposeful atmosphere for everybody who works there. Sloping roofs combined with huge plate glass windows to flood the interior of the building with natural light. There is a sense of space and freedom everywhere. Within its walls the school contains all you would expect from a modern educational establishment: the latest technical equipment, well-staffed libraries, fully featured classrooms, excellent recreational facilities. The school is surrounded by fields and fronted by a beautifully maintained park. There is a parallel between the academic character at Karinthy Frigyes Secondary Grammar School and its namesake, (the nationally famous writer), Frigyes. Karinthy had the rare quality of being simultaneously light-hearted and serious. We strive to maintain that same quality in our learning atmosphere." (Description of the school building from the home page, additions in brackets by authors of this study) The Frigyes Karinthy Bilingual Secondary Grammar School, Budapest (abbreviation in this study: Karinthy) is the first Hungarian school to adapt a bilingual (English and Hungarian) curriculum and teach Hungarian native speaker students a range of disciplines in English.

The current number of students is 625. (213 boys and 412 girls - a ratio not unusual for language--oriented educational institutions.) The number of full time teachers is 69. The total site budget (without grants and other, not foreseeable resources is 710.000 US$. The school is regularly sponsored by the World Bank, the City Council of Budapest, the district educational authority and Microsoft Corporation.

It is the major objective of this school to educate European citizens who safeguard and cherish their national culture but are very well aware of global cultural values.

Graduates speak English on a level much higher than "normal" language learners whose knowledge is based mostly on language books. While learning geography or Mathematics in English, students http://intradev.oecd.org/els/ict/HU/HU02.htm (2 of 22) [06-12-2001 2:34:19 PM]


acquire a professional vocabulary and a way of thinking about areas of science and arts at the same time. With the English language as a catalyst, Karinthy teaches about the culture and mentality of the English speaking world and gets students acquainted with its educational methods and contents.

Teaching began in Karinthy in 1987 when seventy-two students started on the first year of the school's bilingual academic programme. Knowledge of English, however, is by no means a prerequisite for successful entrance to the bilingual programme. During their first year

-known as the zero year- all students are required to take part in a highly intensive language course consisting of twenty English lessons a week. In their remaining four years at the school students must study the core subjects on the Hungarian curriculum: mathematics, history, geography, physics and biology.

Picture 2: Students working on a bilingual project in the English Reference Library Bilingual education means that several disciplines are taught and assessed in English or German. Subjects taught in English are History, Geography, Biology, Mathematics, Physics, Computing, P.E. (Apart from these, Chemistry, Economics, Psychology, Philosophy, Theory of Knowledge are taught in English for those sitting for the international baccalaureate.). Subjects taught in German include Mathematics, Geography, History. The contact person for the bilingual programme, Dr. Anikó Bognár (Programme Director and Vice Principal) is a long time devotee of ICT culture as it facilitates her work considerably. The school maintains a 3:1 student:teacher ratio.

At least ten percent of the staff in the bilingual section is made up of native English speakers from both Britain and North America. Five staff members are former Fulbright exchange teachers, and several others have also studied and worked abroad.

Learning results of the school are very impressive. On average about 80-90 % http://intradev.oecd.org/els/ict/HU/HU02.htm (3 of 22) [06-12-2001 2:34:19 PM]


of graduates are accepted by institutions of higher education; a figure which compares very favourably with the success-rate obtained even by the best schools in the country. Indeed, many of the most prestigious universities have given their recognition to the value of the bilingual project awarding extra examination points to students completing the programme. - In May 1992 fifty-five of our second year students entered for the International G.C.S.E. (General Certificate of Secondary Education - Great Britain) in first language English; an examination administered by the University of Cambridge and designed principally for native-language speakers. Seventy-two percent of these students obtained grades A, B or C. These results were a startling 20% higher than those obtained in Britain. Many of our students have also achieved very high standards in other internationally recognised foreign language examinations.

In the first final year, 76% of the students chose to enter for the Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English or the American Test of English as a Foreign Language. In the first year eighty-nine percent of the total number of the students passed either the C.C.P.E. with grades A, B or C or scored above 600 points in TOEFL; a figure specified as the requirement for entrance to major American universities such as Harvard and Yale.

In the yearly Hungarian educational achievement survey called MONITOR the school traditionally ranks in one of the first ten places and was the first from Hungarian Language and Mathematics in 1999.

Picture 3: The main lobby of the school http://intradev.oecd.org/els/ict/HU/HU02.htm (4 of 22) [06-12-2001 2:34:19 PM]


The school was also the first to be selected as an International Baccalaureate (IB) site and ranks among the highest achievers in Europe in this very demanding, English language secondary school leaving examination. The average grades of Hungarian IB students at Karinthy were already in the first year of implementation, 1997, the highest in the world.

Foreign relations are naturally a preferred area of activity in a bilingual school.

The major destinations for exchange trips are Germany, Denmark, Finland, France, The Netherlands, Norway the UK, and the United States. Besides these there were trips taken to Italy, and ski camps in Austria and Slovakia.

The school is one of the flagship institutions of school ICT culture in Hungary.

An early starter in the field and a very successful grant applicant from the start of computerisation of Hungarian schools in the early eighties, it has benefited from grants offered by the George Soros Foundation, the PHARE and World Bank funds. It has also won several grants issued by the Hungarian Ministry of Education. The school leadership team includes a Vice Principal, László Hutay who is responsible for ICT development and maintenance management as well as preparation of grants and organising the PR activities of the school – all these centring round the development of the usage of computers in education.

Many teachers participate regularly at ICT competitions and win prestigious awards for using ICT in teaching different disciplines. Non-ICT specialists also excel in inventing novel applications, involving students in their use and thus creating a teacher-student team to spread ICT culture. (One example, the school librarian, will be described under 3.3 below.) As regards ICT culture, one of the most important features of this school is the so-called scattered computer placement system. Traditionally, computers are placed in computer laboratories in Hungary and this arrangement strongly affects use. It is the area of influence (and certainly also the responsibility) of the ICT teacher to ensure the proper maintenance of the lab and regulate its use. Thus, non-specialist teachers have to sign up for lab time, which requires planning ahead and practically impedes the realisation of ad hoc ICT supported lessons. Non-specialist teachers will often be rejected because of lack of time and hardware problems. At Karinthy, computers are scattered around the whole school. Some of them are placed in discipline rooms (spaces dedicated to the teaching of one discipline), others are in the library or in student or teacher study areas. This arrangement, initiated by one of the Vice Principal of the school, László Hutay, has become a model and has been implemented in several Hungarian secondary schools with success.

Maintenance and upgrading are tasks routinely performed to keep the PC system in good shape. Information on all existing PCs and other ICT equipment is carefully updated and provides a basis for decisions about development. The file backup system used is mirroring all hard discs on to the school web server and regularly updating these files.

The school is a Microsoft Affiliated School and enjoys the benefits of constant support from the company. Free software as well as occasional hardware gifts are on the agenda. One of the Vice Principals, László Hutay is regularly invited to organise and act as one of the major jurors for the national school home page competition sponsored by Microsoft. (Its title is Verseny in Hungarian, in English: Competition) This competition invites Hungarian primary and secondary schools to create home pages that do not only inform about their institution but can also be used as an educational resource and/or management and communication tool. Karinthy, as the organising institution, feels obliged to show a good example in this respect. (C.f. the English language version of the school home page at http://www.karinthy.hu/) http://intradev.oecd.org/els/ict/HU/HU02.htm (5 of 22) [06-12-2001 2:34:19 PM]


1.2 Who profits from the introduction of ICT?

Picture 4: Teachers'Room for Geography teachers 1. Scattered placement of computers ensures that many people have access and may profit from ICT culture. For students, there are four computer access areas. Six PCs are situated in the main School Library that is used both for normal library functions and as a site for ICT-supported Hungarian Language and Literature classes. Three PCs are situated in the English reference Library where small groups may engage in computer-assisted language practice or Internet search. In the ICT Laboratory, 19 PCs are arranged in three rows with a server placed in fron on top of the teachers' desk. There is a smaller lab space called "Hangout" where students can freely use nine PCs for e-mail, Internet search or other computer-based tasks. Teachers, the management and administration possess many more PCs for personal use - preparation for classes, administrative tasks and communication. Altogether, there are 60 Internet--connected PCs and 3 that have no access. The type of Internet connection is ISDN (64 kBit/sec) provided by the Hungarian School Net free of charge, 24 hours a day.

Students and staff involved in international activities (exchange projects, the IB examination, multinational educational research projects) seem to profit most because they regularly use ICT for better teaching and learning in a supportive and motivating international environment.

The school is based on the idea of spreading knowledge on the English speaking world. Teachers involved in the bilingual part of the educational programme have quickly realised the potentials of this culture in obtaining, updating and sharing knowledge on countries and people of the UK, US, Canada and Australia.

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