Virtually the entire adult population is literate. For the year 2000, adult illiteracy was estimated at 0.6% (males, 0.5%; females, 0.7%). Eight years of primary and four years of secondary education are free. The state also pays the bulk of costs for higher education. Before education was nationalized in 1948, most schools were operated by religious bodies, especially the Roman Catholic Church. The educational system is under the control of the Ministry of Education and is supervised by the local councils, which receive financial assistance from the central government. As of 1999, public expenditure on education was estimated at 4.6% of GDP.
Between 1945 and 1962, eight years of schooling for children from 6 to 14 years of age was compulsory. In 1962, compulsory education was extended for two additional years, for children from 6 to 16. In 1996, there were 507,238 pupils enrolled in elementary schools. In the same year, secondary schools enrolled 1,112,149 students. The pupil-teacher ratio at the primary level was 11 to 1 in 1999. In the same year, 90% of primary-schoolage children were enrolled in school, while 87% of those eligible attended secondary school. In addition to its regular primary education, Hungary has over 100 primary schools with special music programs based on the pedagogy of the 20th-century composer Zoltan Kodály; at these "music primary schools," music receives as much emphasis as all other subjects.
Hungary has about 77 institutions of higher education, including 10 universities, nine technical schools, and colleges offering agricultural and vocational training. In 1996 tertiary institutions had a total of 194,607 students. Adult education expanded after World War II, especially through workers' schools and correspondence courses. Although there are university fees, many students are exempt from payment or pay reduced fees.