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Pre-Primary Education

This educational level is considered as a crucially important integrated part of the school system. It caters for children from 3 to 7 years of age. Participation in pre-primary education at this level (kindergarten) is optional, except for the final year (beyond age 5), which is compulsory.

Public-sector institutions may only charge for services additional to their basic tasks, including for example extracurricular activities, meals, excursions, etc. Currently, the attendance rate with regard to the age groups 3-5, is just above 86%. The average duration of participation of children aged 3–7 in pre-primary education is just over 3 years (3.3), which is the highest average value in Europe.

A Hungarian pre-school class having outdoor activities, March 2007.

In Hungary a kindergarten is called an óvoda ('place for caring'). Children attend kindergarten between ages 3–6/7 (they go to school in the year in which they have their 7th birthday). Attendance in kindergarten is compulsory from the age of 3 years, though exceptions are made for developmental reasons.[4] Though kindergartens may include programs in subjects such as foreign languages and music, children spend most of their time playing. In their last year children begin to be prepared to attend elementary school.

Most kindergartens are state-funded. Kindergarten teachers are required to have a diploma.

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