The growing role of the churches in public education and education policy-making

Principal investigator: Eszter Neumann

Grant: "OTKA" postdoctoral excellence program

Period: November 2020 - October 2023

Research questions and objectives:

With the dismantling of the welfare state, nation states have gradually retreated from providing social protection and educational services across Europe. While in Western Europe, market actors have been involved at a growing extent, following the victory of the right-wing populist coalition, a characteristically different mode of governing has been unfolding in Hungary. State officials and key politicians have repeatedly and publicly confirmed the alliance of the church and the state, and historical churches have been incentivised with generous state subsidies to take a greater part in service provision. My research project focuses on the changing institutional landscape of public education and the involvement of the ’historical’ churches as policy-making actors. I am especially interested in how new discoursive frameworks and practices of the relationship between the state and the citizens in need have emerged. In addition, by conducting micro-regional case studies, I explore how the public education system and access to quality educational services has been restructured in three disadvantaged micro-regions.

Research methods:

The main methods of inquiry are as follows: 

  • document analysis
  • budgetary analysis
  • statistical analysis
  • semi-structured interviews with key policy actors at the national level and at the micro-regional level
  • semi-structured interviews with parents (Roma and non-Roma)
  • non-participant observations at national conferences and meetings as well as local event

Research history:

Inclusive Calvinist Schools research project (conducted with Eszter Berényi, funded by the HEKS/EPER Aid Organization of the Swiss Protestant Churches and the Hungarian Calvinist Church).

The project was launched during my postdoctoral fellowship at the Institute for Advanced Study at the Central European University in the Autumn of 2019.

Publications, databases

Neumann, E. (2022). Education for a Christian nation: Religion and nationalism in the Hungarian education policy discourse. European Educational Research Journal

Bajomi, I. & Neumann, E. (2021) Diversification puis unification des valeurs transmises au sein des écoles de la Hongrie post-communiste., Revue internationale d’éducation de Sèvres 87; DOI :

The expansion of church-run primary schools in Hungary (2001-2018):