V. Karady


Victor Karády


Two regional paradigms of the accumulation of educational capital : Eastern and Western Slovakia in comparison


                This third volume of our educational data collection deriving from the 1910 Hungarian census calls for a comparative exercise, since it offers the relevant information on Eastern Slovakia representing data equivalent to those already published on the Western counties and cities of the region (`Upper Hungary` at that time) 1. A comparison is worth making on all major variables combined in our tables : regional districts, urban and extra-urban residence, gender, confessional groups and age clusters (the latter representing the major social variables mobilized here) as well as ethnic divisions (not combined with but including religion) on the one hand - as supposedly independent factors -, and levels of education on the other hand - as the dependent factor, following our principal working hypothesis. But, at least implicitly or hypothetically, one also has to draw into the picture some rather composite external variables, like degrees of ’assimilation’ and integration in the Magyar dominated nation state and its ’titular elites’, levels of ’modernization’ of various brackets under scrutiny, their urbanization and migration patterns as well as their professional or social class stratification.

Our comments will focus on some general features and relationships regarded as essential and cannot dispense with a closer study of local differentials and correlations on the country or city level proper (which are also permitted by the detailed information presented herewith). Some of our findings may help to complete the results of recent research accomplished in Hungary, Slovakia proper and elsewhere on the problem area of the development of the educational provision in Slovakia before the foundation of the Czechoslovak state. 2  But this is essentially an ’internal study’ drawing almost exclusively on data contained in our two statistical volumes dedicated to Slovakia.

                One can start with some first hand observations about educational inequalities broken down by larger regions. (References will be made to the volumes on Western Slovakia as WS and to the present volume on Eastern Slovakia as ES with page numbers). 

                The most trivial observation concerns gender differentials. Women display in every category featured in our data significantly lower educational scores than men. This is a common pattern in pre-industrial or poorly modernized societies. Elementary schools catered for long preferentially and advanced education remained primarily (if not exclusively) reserved for young males, since they were the main public agents able to put educational assets to professional or symbolic social use. Obviously enough in the early 20th century families still invested much less in the education of women in the sense that most girls were granted  primary schooling only. Access of girls to primary schools started in fact to be generalized quite early. In 1880/81 already 48,1 % of all primary pupils were females in Eastern Slovakia and 47,7 % in West Slovakia, attesting to an almost completely balanced sex ratio in basic education. 3 Though even in the early 20th century the over-representation of girls remained the rule (with 52,4 % of all in 1907/8) among those Hungarians in the age of school obligation escaping schooling, in West Slovakia there were actually less girls than boys in such a case. 4 More generally, drop-out rates among girls (45,6 %) remained only slightly higher in the whole country than among boys (44,3 %) if we compare the cohorts of pupils joining the 1st classes of primary schools in 1907/8 5 with those in classes 4 in 1910/11. 6  Thus gender differences appear to be rather limited at lower grades of education, if there were any by 1910, as reflected in our data bank too. Global levels of illiteracy (for all age groups, including infants) remained very close, both in the West  (41 % for women as against 33 % for men in the counties – see WS p.180 and p. 198) and in the East (50 % for women and 42 % for men in the counties – see ES p.125 and p. 131), but their discrepancies tended to diminish radically in the younger age groups.

On the contrary, such disparities grew decisively at more advanced levels of schooling, in a period when secondary education for women had just started to be organized. Even by 1917/8 there were no more than two schools (in Kassa and Miskolc) offering secondary graduation – érettségi - in East Slovakia, but only one (in Pozsony) in West Slovakia. 7 The admittance of women graduates from secondary schools to a few branches of higher education (Medicine and the Arts and Sciences) had only recently (1895) begun. It is not astonishing hence, that in our data banks too men achieved six to eight times more often than their female counterparts 8 secondary classes or more (same references).

                        Such initial results give already important insights, to be specified later, as into the disparities in the social mechanisms affecting the development of lower as opposed to higher schooling. Though, in principle, the expansion of the second depended on the first, in the historical circumstances of a relatively under-industrialized, under-urbanized and generally under-modernized country the primary and the secondary levels of education – the last one being reserved for a small elite - remained basically detached from one another. Women, for example may have achieved in some cities, regions, social or ethnic clusters a decent level of literacy without really participating in secondary or higher education. The contrary could also be true for men, among whom illiteracy could remain important, as in the West Slovakian towns (19 %) while almost as many of them (16 %) attained at least 4 secondary classes (same references as above). Elite training – from which women were virtually excluded at that time – could well be of high quality and popular in some economically and institutionally under-developed eastern or southern societies even compared to Western standards 8, alongside utter backwardness in popular primary education. Hence the paradox that the ’density’ of doctors or lawyers could, in the early 20th century, be greater in Greece, Hungary or Italy than in France or even Germany…

                The gender differences involved here are important in other respects too.

Women show indeed what could be called a ’normal’ educational pyramid with a large basis of more or less great proportions of literate people, a small strata of those having accomplished at least four (or six) secondary classes, and a tiny remaining group (around 1.5 % in towns and a mere 0.2-0.3 % in the countryside) with more advanced educational assets.

 For men, the set-up is quite different and to some extent intriguing. The basis of literate people is larger though and the proportions of secondary school alumni is indeed much larger, but among the latter those with 8 classes exceed regularly the number of those having only 4 classes. Thus the ’normal’ pyramid appears to be inversed for men both in cities and in the counties. This calls for explanation, since it is common knowledge - for this and as well as for later periods - that the internal structure of the student population in classical secondary schools (leading up to graduation after 8 classes) was marked by a large enrollment in the initial lower classes, and a narrowing down of class size with the more advanced classes. In most gymnasiums or reáliskolák of the period the 8th class represented only a third or less of students as compared to class(es) 1 or 2. Moreover, the popular polgári stopped at the fourth (or sometimes at the sixs) secondary class for most of its clientele, increasing the proportions of those with only four (or six) secondary classes. So for men too, the ’normal’ educational pyramid should have a large basis and a far smaller summit.

 The fact that we generally (with some exceptions for Jews, which will be discussed later) do not find this in our data, may be probably accounted for by three convergent circumstances.

First, the level of 8 class could be reached not only via gymnasiums and reáliskolák, but also via at least two other institutions starting with class 5 of secondary schooling, the commercial high school (felsõ kereskedelmi) and the Normal School (tanítóképzõ) training primary school teachers. This could somewhat boost the proportions of those with 8 classes of education by the mere fact that there were teachers (mostly certified) in every village. Second, the cluster ’8 classes’ represents in reality all those having achieved some kind of secondary education or equivalent together with actual graduates – this concerns the majority of students having completed a classical gymnasium or a  reáliskola - of universities and higher vocational colleges (including professionals, priests, army officers, most civil servants and a number of private executives). Many of them could actually declare education of 8 classes without any formal secondary graduation, since this was not demanded (or not systematically controlled) with respect to priests, army or police officers or even teachers 9, certainly not before the formal ’systematization’ of elite educational provision due to the enforcement of the Austrian Entwurf of 1849. Moreover, some of those having achieved some kind of vocational courses after 4 secondary classes qualifying them – even on exceptional or special terms, as it happened often after the enactment of the 1883 ’qualification law’ – for a civil service position (county or city clerks, secretaries, administrative assistants) or private employees in positions formally requiring secondary graduation, would feel themselves entitled and tacitly incited to class themselves, at the census, in the category of those with 8 years of secondary studies. Third, some of the civil servants, army or police officers, etc. with formal schooling of 8 secondary classes or more could have been specially transferred to Northern Hungary  - a typically non-Magyar area as regards ethnic diversity - from other territories of the multi-ethnic but Magyar dominated nation state, in order to secure the political and administrative control of the region (civil servants, army or police officers) and advance the process of Magyarization (teachers, clerics). Those affected by such transfers were practically all males, so that they could not help contributing to an increase in the proportion of men in our ’8 classes and above’ cluster.

 Still, gender differences between regions appear to be striking enough, though differently at the lower compared with higher educational levels. In Western Slovakia male illiteracy plummets to one tenth in the youngest age groups in the countryside as against the double that number (some one fifth of the total) in Eastern Slovakia. Similarly, illiteracy ratios are much higher among women, but the differences between the West (13 % illiteracy in the 20-24 years cluster) and East (24 % in the same age group) are quite comparable for them too.  Interestingly enough, general regional differences tend to disappear or even reverse to some extent (to the benefit of women, for example, in Eastern Slovakian towns) at the more advanced levels. Thus, globally, since the large masses of the population are affected by primary education only (around 98 % in both regions, except in the towns) Eastern Slovakia displays some indices of educational backwardness when compared to Western Slovakia.

At first sight, there should be nothing astonishing in this observation since it corresponds to the traditionally postulated opposition between East and West in terms of economic development and social modernization. We must come back to this problem when dealing with denominational inequalities proper, but some global references to it appear to be in order, since they demonstrate that various aspects of the modernization process in the Magyar led nation state did not, by any means, go hand in hand – as the ruling elite expected.

We may start with the schooling data proper, which show a comparable but not quite identical basic situation in Eastern and Western Slovakia for the period. Some of the educational provision appears to be of better quality in the East as against the West, as shown in the table.

  The number of primary schools was throughout the period under scrutiny somewhat lower in the East than in the West, but Eastern Slovakia had almost completely caught up with the West by 1910. Western Slovakia was twice as well endowed by 1880 with higher primary institutions (most of them being polgári iskola). Still in both regions the very large majority (close to all in the West) of primary schools offered tuition up to 6 years (6 classes), covering the years of obligatory schooling age. Moreover, the relative over-endowment of Western Slovakia with polgári schools was in part compensated by the fact that Eastern Slovakia had  throughout the period a somewhat more developed network of classical secondary institutions (24 as against 22 in the 1890s and 30 by the end of the Dualist period as against 25 in Western Slovakia). 10 

The size of the population to be educated – which can be grossly identified as those aged 6-11 years old – was also somewhat bigger in the West, thus an average primary school in the East catered always for significantly less pupils than in the West. The same applied to teachers as well. An average teacher – though somewhat less often professionally trained and certainly more poorly paid during some of the period - was in charge of far fewer pupils in the East than in the West. Public investment in primary education appears to be quite comparable, since in 1910 18.5 % of schools were directly under state or municipal management in the East and 18.9 % in the West, the rest being run – as in the provinces everywhere at the time – mostly by religious authorities. But public agencies had to invest more heavily in schooling in Eastern Slovakia, since the number of publicly run schools (only 11.4 % in 1896/6 in the East) grew there from 100 to 161 (in relative figures) in fifteen years, while the corresponding

growth in the West (13,4 % of public primary schools in 1895/6) was only from 100 to 136. Overall, therefore, the proportion of pupils of compulsory schooling age actually attending school was systematically but only slightly higher in the West than in the East. Globally, regional differences in the size of the schooling provision were not spectacular and certainly far from being systematically unfavorable for the Eastern Slovak counties.

                Such basic schooling data thus do little to explain global educational inequalities between the two regions.   



                                                                                Table 1.


                                       W e s t e r n    S l o v a k i a                               E a s t e r n    S l o v a k i a

                                                    1870 11  1880 12 1890 13 1896 14  1910 15           18703    18804   18905  1896    19107     

primary schools

numbers                                               2307             2424    2347                         1987                2347    2327

higher primary schools 20                                             50                                                                  25           

% of non confessional schools21                               15,6                                                               12,1

% of those with tuition in Hungarian only            47,1     85,4                                                   61,5     97,4                                         

% of those with tuition in Hungarian

combined with another language                           78.5                                                               86.1

% of undivided (1 class) schools                             62.5                                                               77.6

% of those with 5 or 6 classes                                 94.1                                                               88.1                              

% of those working 8 months or more/year          82.4                                                              85.3


teaching staff

number of teachers                         3072               3546     4067                         2307                2954     3560

teachers/100 schools                          133                146        173                           116                  126       152

% of certified teachers                                             86                                                                 83.5       

average salary of teachers               334 Ft                                                        282 Ft


3. pupils of primary schools

of school obligation age22      306     289     316      364                          212      199       228      302                                                

numbers attending school23  155     246     278      314                         106       152       195      245

% of those of school age

attending schools                   50.7     85.0    87.9    86.2                         50.1      76.6      85.7     81.2

% of those in school age not

enrolled in schools                                                                 6.1                                                                 7,4

number of pupils/school                      107               130      133                             77                    104    113

number of pupils/teacher                     80                88.5      77                              60                     83       74


Some other indices may bring us closer to the relative degrees of development of the two regional populations. One indicator quoted in the table, that of average teachers’ salaries,

actually hints at rather crass economic differentials. If in the East teachers were seriously underpaid as compared to their Western colleagues, this was clearly linked with the means at the disposal of school authorities (most of them ecclesiastical ones): in the East they were apparently worse off, so that they could not grant teachers the same pay as in the West – a fair reference to East Slovakian poverty and economic backwardness. Still, instead of mobilizing here data on production and industrialisation, as it could be done at the price of a complex analysis of comparative degrees of regional economic development, I prefer to resort to far simpler indicators of development of a demographic nature, offering global estimations of degrees of ’modernity’ of the regional populations concerned.

Birthrates combined with rates of survival in young age as well as – even more demonstrably – death rates may be adduced here, since family size and rates of survival can be directly correlated to educational opportunities: the greater the number of children, the less the chances of them securing advanced training. With diminishing death rates ’investment’ in the education of the offspring can be expected to have higher returns. But signs of birth control and the diminishing incidence of mortality are by themselves indicators of modernization. The following table offers calculations related the average size of generational cohorts (1 year age group) in proportional terms (as a percentage of the total population) surviving in 1910 in the 0-5 age group - following our data banks and several indices of mortality.


                                                                                                Table 2.


                                                    W e s t e r n   S l o v a k i a                        E a s t e r n   S l o v a k i a 

                                                  Counties          t o w n s      together      counties               t o w n s       together

                                              Men   women   men   women                 men    women      men   women


% of 1 generation

among those of                  2.8      2.65       1.97      1.9                       2.9       2.67           2.1       2.1  

0-5 years of age 24           


male death rate

per 100025                                                                             24.4                                                                26.0                                                    


% of deaths under

medical control                                                             55,7                                                               46,1


                        Our data show apparently no major disparities in terms of birth rates, though they do indicate that birth control must have started by 1910 in urban settings, especially in some West Slovakian population clusters. The size of the surviving youngest generations are somewhat smaller in West Slovakian counties and significantly smaller in West Slovakian towns, as compared to East Slovakia. This is all the more remarkable given that East Slovakia was, during this period, a region of increasing mass emigration, as witnessed by the relative rarity of those cohorts of males likely to participate in such migration: in East Slovakian counties men of 20-39 years of age represent only 22.3 % of the whole male population26 as against 25 % in Western Slovakia27. These young men make up the bulk of those establishing families and producing children. A smaller young male cluster with higher rates of fertility is a sign of the prevalence of less ’modern’ demographic strategies in the whole group.

                        Mortality data show even more significant discrepancies in the same sense. General rates of male deaths are already significantly lower in Western Slovakia. But global death rates depend on a number of specifically demographic factors (essentially on gender ratios and birth rates in the past and at present determining the structure of the age pyramid), which escape close technical examination here. Such is not the case of the degree of medicalization of the population as indicated by the much higher proportion of deaths occurring under medical attendance in the West. This attests implicitly to higher living standards permitting less restricted recourse to medical aid when necessary. One could suppose that a better medical equipment and, possibly, a higher ’density’ of doctors was also to be found in the West, but this was – however paradoxical it appears to be – not the case following relevant data. The two regions under scrutiny had similar health provisions in 1910 with even some advantage for the East, where there were 2164 people for one member of the medical and para-medical staff (doctors and pharmacists) as against 2581 in the West.28 More research is warranted to clarify these relationships. 

All these signs of more advanced ’modernity’ could influence educational standards and investments in the West, which brings us closer to the interpretation of observed general educational inequalities between the two regions (especially on the primary and lower levels). We will find some even more spectacular regional differences when analysing educational disparities between denominational clusters.

Still one more generally applicable hypothesis should be tested as to possible correlations between national assimilation and schooling achievements. In a multi-ethnic region with a majority or quasi majority (if we discount ’assimilated’ Hungarians) of non Magyars, it is to be expected that the increase in the ratio of self-declaring Magyars would correlate with the growth of incorporated educational capital in the population, since advanced schooling of all sorts beyond primary education was available locally in Hungarian language only (with the partial exception of the training of primary teachers and clerics). Data on linguistic skills and, implicitly, on linguistic Magyarisation do not unambiguously confirm such a relationship. In Western Slovakia a mere 31 % of women and 34 % of men were of Magyar mother tongue in 1910 (see WS p. 181 and 187), while there was a quasi majority of speakers of Magyar as a first language in Eastern Slovakia : among the 51 % of women and 53 % of men declaring to be Hungarian speakers, many (especially Jews and Lutherans of German or Slovakian background) must have belonged to ’assimilated’ clusters (see ES p. 126 and 132).

 Given such ratios, it is remarkable to observe in Table 1./1 that as early as 1896 (ten years before Lex Apponyi) exclusively Hungarian tuition was imposed upon as many as 47 % of primary schools in the West and 61,5 % in the East,29 affecting in both regions much higher percentages of children than those of Magyar mother tongue proper . The extension of primary schooling was thus beyond doubt serving the assimilationist efforts of Magyar elites, following the policy of ’nationalization’ implemented by the would-be nation state. As a consequence, by 1910 (subsequently to the 1907 Apponyi Law on large state subsidies granted to primary schools on condition that they adopt Magyar as the language of tuition), such policies must have been fully applied , since almost all schools of the two regions under scrutiny (85 % in the West and as many as 97 % in the East30) operated by that time in Hungarian.  Still, all these investments – apparently more substantial in Eastern Slovakia – could not generate a corresponding growth in educational credentials. Eastern Slovakia continued to lag behind the West with its relatively high illiteracy ratio, for both men and women, the young as the not so young, in counties and in towns. The case could be better defended for more advanced levels of education since - compared to the West Slovakian counties and towns - East Slovakia did display, as already observed, somewhat higher proportions of those with secondary education or more. If, manifestly, a general correlation between assimilation and schooling cannot be stated here, the assimilationist efforts of many clusters could still be related to more advanced schooling investments in secondary or higher learning, given the fact that this  was exclusively supplied in the state language.31 Thus, perhaps paradoxically, the better educational scores of East Slovakia at the level of advanced schooling could have resulted in part simply from the greater number of classical Magyar secondary institutions operating in the region.     

 But, still remaining with observations of a general type, one has to comment on the differences between cities and counties and the trend of educational development in the long run, also inscribed in our data –  on condition that we consider age specific educational achievement data as historical indicators, informing about levels of schooling in former times.

 The contrast is strong indeed in every respect between towns and counties in our data banks, even if the categories of urban population are related in each region merely to two cities – not even necessarily the largest ones – due to their administrative status as cities with autonomous municipal councils - so that it is far from covering all urban clusters. It is no surprise though that, at all levels of education, urban clusters surpass the rural majority of both regions. Interestingly enough, differences are much bigger for women and organized differently along educational levels and age groups as for men.

At the lowest level, rates of illiteracy tend to decrease convergently for men and women very fast everywhere, but in the counties in Eastern Slovakia one fifths, in Western Slovakia around one tenth of young adults of both sexes were still illiterates in 1910. In cities illiteracy is around half the above figures, but differences between men and women tend to narrow as well.

At the higher educational levels residential differences are maintained, though they also tend to narrow among the younger age groups. Cities clearly attracted the educated for at least three rather obvious socio-historical reasons. First they were places of advanced learning, containing the most prestigious secondary schools and university colleges, attracting a large clientele engaged in long educational careers, thus fixing a big number of those with higher education (whether during their studies or afterwards). Second, cities were seats of major public agencies run by a highly educated staff, like the administration itself, schools, hospitals, tribunals, etc. Third, cities constituted the main economic markets of their regions, hence they also concentrated all those running the private economy - like private managers, executives, lawyers etc. – most of whom contributed to boost the proportions of educated clusters. Men directly, women indirectly shared the benefit of these factors – the latter due notably to the trend of educationally homogamous marriages and to the process of social self-reproduction of the educated classes (including their daughters), bringing many educated women into cities even when – which was the rule for most of them in these times – they would not become active in an intellectual profession.

This is precisely while age group specific levels of education tended to grow tremendously for women both in towns and (on a much more moderate scale) in counties, reflecting the long term historical growth of educational capital in elite circles, while this did not apply at all to men in the cities ! Indeed the proportion of men with 4, 6 or 8 classes and more did actually remain approximately the same for all age clusters above 24 in cities, that is above one fourth in Eastern Slovakia (ES p. 138) and between one fifth and one fourth in Western Slovakia.(WS p. 193). The very contrast between certified educational credentials of men of 20-24 years (only 14 % with 4 classes and more in the East, 20 % in the West) as against 25-23 % in the next age group suggests that age specific proportions of the educated depended on the whole in cities less on the generalization of advanced schooling and much more on the transfer, immigration and concentration of educated professionals, civil servants and executives who – following the logic of their professional mobility – found themselves more often in cities at an advanced stage of their career (when they were older) than as young career starters. Hence the maintenance of relatively high but quasi constant proportions of educated men in cities, as opposed to the ever increasing (though in absolute terms much lower) proportions of women in the same case.

Two important remarks are in order as to age clusters.        

The first concerns teenagers and young adults in cities. Global educational achievements (% with 4-6-8 or more classes) tend, in a more or less regular fashion, to grow among men and women in the counties with the diminution of age, down to the 20-24 age group. Those of 15-19 years show lower scores for two rather obvious reasons : ’mature students’ among them could not yet finish their secondary studies, technically, on the one hand, and most students from the region pursuing studies in a university or a post secondary vocational college must have been, during census time, outside the region, hence not counted, on the other hand. This is why there is a gap between the rather tiny proportions of 8 or more classes alumni in the 15-19 years old age group (only 0.8 % of men both in Eastern and Western Slovakian counties – ES p. 125 and WS p. 180) as compared to the next age group with proportions 5-6 times higher (4.7 % in the East, 4.1 % in the West). Such data clearly describe the ’normal’ trend, following which the younger adult generations in 1910 were better endowed educationally than the elderly. Now, this trend is absolutely not true for men in cities of either region. There the 15-19 age group is distinguished by its very high score of secondary education, especially for 4 classes : this age group appears to be exceptionally ’normal’ as compared to the above discussed ’reversed’ educational pyramid in other male age groups. But the following age group is just as clearly distinguished with its low score (the lowest of all other age groups), as already mentioned.

 Such apparent anomalies can be accounted for by the special educational functions of cities. Those in the 15-19 years age group liable to pursue secondary studies remain concentrated in the towns, since gymnasiums, reáliskolák, polgárik, commercial and  Normal Schools, or even seminaries for the training of clerics, are also located there. But many of those going to universities or higher vocational colleges, mostly belonging to the 20-24 years age group, had to leave their cities for further studies in a region which lacked both universities and most other institutions of higher education. Hence the relative scarcity of men with advanced education in the 20-24 years urban age group. The case of Selmecbánya, a small town with its Academy of Mining and Forestry, a unique institution with nation wide recruitment, confirms a contrario  this analysis. Here the 20-24 years age group displays the absolutely highest proportion of men with 8 or more classes (32 % as against 15.5 % in the 25-29 years age group and a mere 7 % in the 30-34 years cluster), obviously due in large part to students of the Academy coming from all over the Monarchy. (See WS p.73.)  

The second remark concerns the growth of knowledge in historical terms, as reflected, hypothetically, by educational credentials of successive generations. It was discussed above why such growth could not be observed in cities. But the other important observation we have to make here is that even in counties the growth appears to have been slow, often problematically discontinued, and on the whole far from being decisive, especially for men, the main targets of educational investments made by the state, the municipal authorities and families as well. If we lump together those with 4-6-8 classes or more, their proportions in the oldest generations born before 1860 and among the youngest adults, born after 1890, less than doubled (growing from 4.3 % to 8 % in the East – see ES p. 126 – and from 4 % to a mere 6.7 % in the West – see WS p. 181). Progress was similarly slow and discontinued for some time – with older generations showing higher scores than younger ones - at the 8 classes or more level. Indicators of a quasi stagnation of educational achievements over longer periods are particularly striking for male cohorts born between 1860 and 1875 (35-50 years of age in 1910), that is, precisely among those which should have been the first to benefit from the educational investments and developments carried out by the independent nation state.32 There was no growth at all, for example, in the counties between male clusters of 45-49 and 40-45 years (with 5.1-5.2 % endowed with at least 4 classes in both regions – see WS p. 181 and ES p. 126).

   This observation is conducive to our main topic, confessional schooling inequalities, the very target of our data banks. Indeed, to make any sense, the type of educational stagnation indicated above must be broken down by denominations because of the discrepancies shown by religious clusters in this respect. Analysed more closely once again, the stagnation under scrutiny will reveal itself as utterly selective : significant for most Christian groups, inexistent for Jews.33 

The discrepancies between Jews and Christians, but also among Lutherans and other ’Western Christians’ (essentially Roman Catholics and Calvinists) as against ’Eastern Christians’ (Greek Orthodox and Catholics) were at that time the most marked forms indeed of educational inequality both at the State and at the regional level. In every respect – whether observed by genders, residential districts, regions, etc. – there are convergent indications of a clear cut hierarchy of educational accomplishments , especially objectified in the youngest age groups in the Dual Monarchy. Jews appeared to be by far the best performers, followed by Lutherans (as well as Unitarians, whenever data were significantly rich to attest to the educational performance of this small cluster, diaspora-like outside Transylvania) and – at some distance – by Catholics and Calvinists, with Christians of Greek persuasion coming last. Some aspects of such a hierarchy can also be observed in our data, though Unitarians are utterly lacking in the two regions under scrutiny and the Greek religious groups are significantly represented only by Catholics in some counties in the north-eastern corner of Eastern Slovakia (especially in Bereg, Sáros, Zemplén), the Greek Orthodox being practically absent. Data on small brackets do not lend themselves to serious interpretation, except in terms of local history, since members of them may appear in our data due to contingent, local or otherwise specific reasons, outside general trends in social history: such was the individual appointment of maids or the arrival of housewives following the transfer of their husbands as civil servants, the immigration of manual work force,34 etc.). But for the main denominational clusters (sometimes close to being identical to ethnically separate brackets) we can sum up our findings here in a simple table. It reproduces, on the one hand, the main ’representation indices’ of our table at two educational levels - demonstrating the educational attainment of each category concerned as compared to the average and, on the other hand, proportions of men having reached at least 4 secondary classes as compared to those identified in the 1910 census as members of the ’intellectual professions’ (értelmiség). Since the latter were almost exclusively males and access to most brackets of ’intellectual professions’ was subject to educational credentials (with a minimum of 4 secondary classes as defined by the 1883 ’law on qualifications’)35, the ’excess proportions’ of educated men beyond 4 secondary classes constitute a good approximation to evaluate the proportion of those educated for entry into not publicly regulated ’intellectual’ free markets or without real professional purposes – so to say, for the sake of some advanced learning as such, together, of course, with all its social benefits not directly oriented towards economic success.36


Table 3


W e s t e r n     S l o v a k i a

C  i  t  i  e  s                          c o u n t i e s


Representation of    those with  Representation of    those with

20-24 years old       4 classes       20-24 years old        4 classes

                                among              and more           among                and more

Illite-        4 clas-       for 100         Illite-        4 clas-       for 100

Rates        ses and     ’intellec-      Rates        ses and     ’intellec-

                 more          tuals37                          more           tuals’


Roman Catholics           1.2            0.74          245               1.12           0.72            178                          

Greek Catholics           1.78+         2.45+        400+             3.83+         0.93+         180+

Calvinists                         0+           1.23          335               0.32            1.43           188

Lutherans                     0.44           1.28           304               0.62           0.91            194

Jews                               0.16           2.58          706               0.07           6.48            423

Together                         1                  1            285                  1               1               212                 



Eastern     S l o v a k i a

C  i  t  i  e  s                          c o u n t i e s


Representation of    those with  Representation of    those with

20-24 years old       4 classes       20-24 years old        4 classes

                                among              and more           among                and more

Illite-        4 clas-       for 100         Illite-        4 clas-       for 100

Rates        ses and     ’intellec-     Rates        ses and     ’intellec-

                 more          tuals’                          more           tuals’


Roman Catholics         0.61             0.92          240           0.87            0.92           151         

Greek Catholics          3.16              0.23          400+        2.06             0.43           162+

Calvinists                     0.93              0.64          335          0.84             0.46           168

Lutherans                    0.13             1.73           303          0.28             1.68           168

Jews                              0.21             2.89           706          0.35             2.96           387                       

Together                         1                  1             284             1                  1             183    


+ calculated upon less than 200 cases.


                Levels of male illiteracy  are indicated herewith in an opposing scheme of over- or under-representations compared to the average (1). Lower figures qualify here for better educational performances and higher figures for poorer ones. The data in table 3 confirm to a large extent the aforementioned general educational hierarchy of denominational clusters. Jews and Lutherans were decisively ahead of the rest, Roman Catholics and Calvinists being positioned somewhat above average in the East, below average in the West, but Greek Catholics remained in the worst position in both regions.

                Of course, one can and should go beyond these elementary indications and identify a more complex hierarchy, in which age specific levels of literacy are also scrutinised. Indeed the basic hierarchy outlined above applies much better to the elderly age clusters than to the youngest ones. The main shifts affect the 6-14 age groups, rather than the older ones. They are related to gender differentials and the relative position of the two Protestant denominations in terms of literacy.

                What has been pointed out previously about the occasional reversal of the gender hierarchy in respect to literacy, is relevant for some religious groups, notably among 6 years old quite generally to Catholics, to Jews in West Slovakian counties, to Calvinists and Lutherans in Eastern Slovakian counties, as well as – more surprisingly – to Greek Catholics in Eastern Slovakian cities. The same phenomenon of a larger proportion of literate girls compared to boys may be found once again among Catholics in most residential areas for the 7-11 years old and the 12-14 years old, but it also occurs among Protestants and Jews, especially in Eastern Slovakia. It may well be that in many peasant or other homes boys were somewhat more often needed than girls for child work in or outside the household economy and thus withheld from schooling. In Orthodox Jewry girls may have been sent to secular primary schools more often than boys, who were obliged to follow more strictly the traditional religious track of education (via cheder and yeshiva), hence their sometimes lower level of certified literacy in a ’recognised’ national language (that is, essentially in Hungarian or German). But such gender differentials require further exploration in local studies.

                  Another significant observation in the youngest age groups concerns the frequent reversal of the customary hierarchy of educational performance between Protestants. While Lutherans did perform better than Calvinists in most clusters, there were exceptions – especially in Western Slovakia, where Calvinists were present only in diaspora-like small numbers. More importantly, Lutheran and Calvinist achievements in terms of literacy in the youngest age groups remained very close to each other everywhere in the Slovakian regions and proved to be much superior to those of Catholics both for boys and girls. Thus, Calvinists join here the ’Protestant pattern’ of significantly greater educational investments which is represented at more advanced levels of schooling by Lutherans alone.   

                For secondary education, the figures of Table 3 must be interpreted directly : the higher they are, the better performance they demonstrate. Here again, Jews and (though to a lesser extent) Lutherans display far better results than do the other groups, Catholics remain close to the average, though significantly below it in both regions, while Calvinists oscillate between a higher than average position in the West (where they represent a small minority of 2.9 % of the population) and a much lower than average position in the East (where they are present in large numbers – 18.3 % of the population). The overall poor educational attainment of this ’ purely Magyar’ denomination proves – if a proof was needed here – that Magyar ethnic status by itself was no guarantee of educational achievement in the Hungarian nation state. The only correlation to be expected (and which remains to be further explored) concerns the Magyarization strategies of minorities (whether Jews, Germans or Slavs). Indeed assimilation or acculturation may be demonstrably connected to educational mobility. Whatever the case may be, the reputedly less assimilated Greek Catholics (mostly Ruthenians and sometimes Romanians) show the far lowest representation among those with 4 secondary classes or more in Eastern Slovakia, where they constituted a sizable cluster (some 24 % of the population). Their apparently high score in Western Slovakia cannot be of much relevance, since it has to do with their status as a tiny minority (0.10 %) the specific aspects of which have been addressed above.

                But probably the most interesting findings of Table 3 are contained in the third column of each sub-table relating to the number of members of officially defined ’intellectual professions’ as compared to men with at least 4 secondary classes. The ’intellectuals’ as listed here and following census data, are of course only an approximation of the real cluster of those actually active in the ’intellectual professions’ linked (for example in the 1883 ’Law on qualifications’) to some level of secondary or higher education. Women are disregarded here, though at that time a few ’intellectuals’ were already females, especially doctors or  – more often – teachers, fifteen odd years after the opening of universities to women. Some uneducated staff of public agencies or the liberal professions are included among ’intellectuals’. More importantly, all the professionals of the private sector (whether managers, executives and property holders in industry, commerce, banking or transportation) are excluded from the count, representing a significant distortion as to the real numbers of those whose education permitted their access to an elite position in private business. Though these biases must be kept in mind, our data offer an interesting approach to the problem of educational inequalities of a denominational or ethnic nature.   

                In this respect the indicators of table 3 show a highly dualistic pattern. All Christian denominations are grouped somewhat below the average in counties or dispersed around it in cities. But there is no clear cult hierarchy among them in this respect. The main differences lay between Jews and Gentiles, the former showing a representation among the educated 2-3 times higher than the scores of the latter. Understandably enough, the ’excess’ of the educated in comparison to professional ’intellectuals’ is much larger in cities than in counties. The reasons of this privileged position of the cities and of Jews may be linked. In both brackets there was, on the one hand, a concentration of vocationally trained educated men in private business, who were not counted officially in the ’intellectual’ category. On the other hand, cities were the melting pots of cultural assimilation attracting would be assimilees, many of whom adopting advanced schooling as a strategy of mobility towards established middle class positions in the ruling Magyar strata. Jews were particularly numerous here, hence their spectacular over-representation among apparently non-professional educated men. But there may be more in this remarkable Jewish presence among those with seemingly ’unfunctional’ education. Many of them may have regarded advanced secular schooling as a form of conversion of their habits and acquisitions in terms of ’religious intellectualism’ for the sake of or as an expression of their positive attitude to ’modernity’ or modernisation. This is what may lie at the root of the gap between Eastern and Western Slovakian Jewry : the size of their ’freely educated’ clusters being more substantial in the West as compared to the East. 

This is not the place to analyse in greater detail the historical causes of these large scale educational inequalities . This has been attempted elsewhere.38 For further scrutiny cluster specific social class stratification and drive for professional mobility, degrees of urbanisation, strategies of cultural assimilation and social integration, pre-established cultural patterns (like habits of learning, forms of ’religious intellectualism’ among Jews and some Protestants), commitment to demographic modernization and also, no less importantly, the very structure of the schooling provision as well should also be adduced. One should not forget that there were practically no Jewish secondary schools, except a few polgári, during the whole Dual Monarchy, while all Christian students could benefit from their own respective networks of gymnasiums – which actually dominated the market of classical secondary schooling with Latin until the end. As a consequence, Jews could rarely profit from special facilities granted to coreligionists in denominational schools (preferential admission, tuition wavers, grants, symbolic distinctions). On the contrary, they were often overtaxed by increased fees (especially in Protestant institutions), sometimes discouraged to apply, submitted not infrequently to proselytizing pressures to convert (especially in Catholic schools) and even exposed to antisemitic harassment, occasionally – though the Hungarian elite education system generally maintained liberal standards throughout the long 19th century. In this respect the Slovakian regions were no exceptions.39 Thus, additionally to their general ’educational alienation’ in secular learning (as compared to their native religious culture), Jews had to attend non-Jewish institutions when they were seeking advanced (post-primary) schooling. Of course, this handicap could be turned into a challenge, generating positive reactions and compensatory learning strategies, likely to lead in favorable circumstances to intellectual over-performance – which the Hungarian and other educational statistics actually clearly attest.

Leaving the complex problem area of socio-historical interpretations aside, let us content ourselves here with identifying the major denominational differences apparent in our data banks and spectacular enough to make their summary worth while.

The main upshot of all our previous observations has to do with the Jewish-Gentile contrast - manifest in every respect. Still, there are considerable differences between the various regional or demographic clusters, so that the variations must also be accounted for. The best approach to this complex problem area is suggested by our representation indices (columns 3-5 in each table in SW and SE).

 Let us start with age clusters, since they allow to continue our discussion about the historical ’stagnation’ of educational investments in the post-1867 decades.

 Jewish educational pre-eminence proved to be regularly more marked among the younger generations than among the older ones and this was true in towns and counties for Jewish men in both regions, and especially in counties for Jewish women (while they maintained an almost average representation in the two West Slovakian towns listed in our survey –  see WS p. 198). Thus, in Western Slovakian counties, some 12 % of Jewish men born before 1850 (above 60 years of age) accomplished at least 4 secondary classes, a proportion multiplied by four (!) in the age groups under 30, reaching close to half of all males (WS pp. 180-181). This is in sharp contrast to Christians, among whom similar proportions grew incomparably less (for Roman Catholics and Lutherans – the two major denominations in the region – from 3.1 % both to 4.8 % and 6.2 % respectively – see WS pp. 176-177 and 178-179). In Eastern Slovakian counties however, overall Jewish educational levels remained far behind those of West Slovakian Jewry, but the proportion of those men with some secondary education nevertheless increased over the same period (that is, between the oldest and the youngest age groups concerned) equally more than 4 times (from 5 % to 23 % - ES pp. 125-126), while comparable Christian scores moved much less (from 4 % to 7 % for Roman Catholics, from 4.3 % to 6.5 % and 9.1 % for Calvinists, from 8.5 % to 12.6 % and 15.6 % for Lutherans – see ES pp. 121-124).

In the cities the discrepancy was even greater between Jews and Christians. Educational credentials of Jewish men actually doubled over the long period both in the West (from 17 % with some secondary training up to 51-52 % - see WS pp. 192-193) and in the East (from 22 % to 41-43 % see ES pp. 137-138), while they actually tended to oscillate, stagnate or even not insignificantly decline (!) for all the youngest adult Christian clusters. Among Roman Catholic men only 13 % had a smattering of secondary schooling among the 20-24 years old as against 24 % among the 25-29 years old and as much as 27 % of those over 60 (see ES pp. 148-149). Here we have an empirical demonstration of the statement about ’stagnation of enrolments’ in the early Dualist period, meaning that Christians did stagnate to a large extent while Jews did not , so that the latter became over time by far the best educated religious cluster in both regions.    

But this general Jewish ’over-schooling’ of sorts had a number of specific aspects and qualifications.

As mentioned above, it was much more decisive in the West than in the East of our region, denoting the major cultural and social opposition between Jewish Orthodoxy and ’Neology’ (Reform Jewry) on the one hand – the break between the two having gained an overall importance since the 1868 Jewish Congress in Pest -, and Eastern and Western Orthodoxy, the former being strongly influenced by Hassidism. The Jewish authorities of strictly Orthodox persuasion would more or less adamantly oppose secular schooling till late on during the long 19th century. The spectacular manifestation of such attitudes was the scarcity of Jewish primary schools of public status in Eastern Slovakia. In Western Slovakia by 1895 not less than 126 such schools were sponsored by Jewish communities, while there were only 48 in Eastern Slovakia. But in counties like Bereg and Ung, with sizable Orthodox Jewish communities, there was just one public school of this sort in each county40. This meant that most Jewish kids continued there to attend the traditional cheders only, avoiding secular education and also escaping, by the way, registration in state organized schooling statistics : this is why we find an average of as many as 460 (!) Jewish children of 6-11 years for one primary school (whether public, denominational or private) in Eastern Slovakia, as against 118 in Western Slovakia. This is also the obvious source of educational differences, still very marked in our data banks, between Eastern and Western Slovakian Jews. They were manifest in the continued high rates of  illiteracy in the East even among the youngest Jewish generations (7.8 % among men and 12 % among women of 20-24 years of age in the counties – see ES pp. 125 and 131), as against the quasi disappearance of Jewish illiteracy in Western Slovakian counties (0.8 % among men and 1.8 % among women of 20-24 years old –  see WS pp. 180 and 186).

Two remarks about this problem area are in order.

First, data on Jewish illiteracy may have borne the brunt of administrative bias against Yiddish and Hebrew, the native languages of most of the Orthodox and many other Hungarian Jews during most of the 19th century. Jewish languages not being recognized among ethnic mother tongues (just like Jews were not considered to be an ethnic minority), most non-Magyar speaking Jews were clustered with ’Germans’ in ethnic statistics based on mother tongue or ’first language’. This could imply that their literacy in Hebrew letters was also ignored by census inspectors, thus artificially reducing the proportion of literate Jews. Hence, levels of Jewish literacy observed in our data, especially among the Orthodox, may actually under-estimate real levels - once writing and reading knowledge in Hebrew is accounted for. 

Second, the level of writing and reading knowledge attributable to Eastern Slovakian Jewry may have been affected by the selective emigration to other (Southern, Central or Western) parts of Hungary, or abroad (to Vienna, for example, or overseas). This is what declining figures of those enrolled in primary schools actually suggest. Indeed the proportions of Jewish kids enrolled in primary education among those in the age of obligatory schooling grew fast from 1870 to 1890 (from about 25 % to 74 %) in counties of Eastern Slovakia, it then declined afterwards (to 69 % by 1896), just at the point when mass emigration from Eastern Hungary gathered momentum. In counties like Borsod, Szepes or even Ung there was no decline, but in some other counties like Abaúj-Torna (a decline from 76 % to 58 %), Sáros (a decline from 52 % to as little as 36 %) or Zemplén (a decline from 73 % to 64 %)41 the increasing rarity of inscriptions was sharp indeed. Unlike the general increase in the accumulation of educational capital, such phenomena should be submitted to more detailed and localized scrutiny.

 As to more advanced learning, in the West about half of young adult Jewish men (precisely 50 % among the 20-24 years old in the counties – see WS p. 176) had accomplished some level of secondary education or training, compared to less than half of this ratio (22.6 % in Eastern Slovakian counties for men of the same age group – see ES p. 125). In some Eastern counties like Bereg (with only 12 % of men achieving some secondary schooling – see ES pp. 29-30) Jewish educational performance was indeed much poorer, so that it failed to reach that of Lutherans (with 21 %) or even of Roman Catholics (16 %) for similar clusters (see ES pp. 25 and 27). The regional oscillation of Jewish educational levels were thus large, following the nature of locally dominant community obediences, a factor of less significance within Christian clusters.   

Among Jewish specificities one must count the limited distance between urban and rural levels of educational attainment, especially as measured by indicators of advanced learning, quite atypical among Gentiles, notably in Western Slovakia. While among Christians in the West the average proportion of those with 4 or more secondary classes in cities exceeded by between three up to five times that in the counties, particularly among men, such differences would never go beyond one to two among Jews (for women with 8 classes), but there were most of the time actually no significant differences at all : 24 % of Jewish men in the Western counties achieved 8 secondary classes as against 26 % of them in the two Western cities for the 25-29 years old (see WS pp. 181 and 193). Among Western Slovakian Jewish women, there were more of them in the counties (31 %) with at least 4 years of secondary training than in cities (30 % - see WS pp. 187 and 199). In Eastern Slovakia discrepancies in this respect were sharper in the two environments, but as a rule much less than among Gentiles of the same categories. Thus Jewish educational capital appears much more equally distributed and the ’excess’ of educated - beyond those using education professionally – much more frequent everywhere, irrespective of the residential milieu, than it was among Christians.

Paradoxically enough, though women’s education was by the end of the Dual Monarchy much more advanced among Jews than among Christians, Jewish women were far behind Jewish men as to their chances of elite education (8 years of secondary schooling or more) than were their Gentile sisters in relation to Christian men. There were 10-13 times more Jewish men in such a case than were Jewish women in both big regions, while similar disparities did not exceed a level of 3-4 times more men than women among Christians. Such differences may be perhaps connected to the effect of Jewish religious learning habits – reserved for men, whereby women remained practically excluded -, habits that were liable to be translated into gender specific differentials in secular higher education, especially on the strength of assimilationist strategies – promising more professional rewards for men than for women.

Another aspect of Jewish-Gentile gender differentials is reflected by the much larger basis of the Jewish female educational pyramide, as compared to that of Gentile women. This was especially true outside cities. Both in Western and Eastern Slovakian counties in the 25-29 age group the number of Jewish women with only 4 secondary classes was 12 times (!) higher than the number with 8 secondary classes (see WS p. 187 and ES p. 126). Similar disparities did not exceed 1 to 4-5 for Christian women. This meant, manifestly, that the educational mobilisation of Jewish women was in general much larger than among Christian women, but also that it targeted in the first place a level of basic secondary schooling instead of graduation proper. In the West, nine to thirteen times more (!) Jewish than Gentile women of the 25-29 age group achieved 4 secondary classes, but only two-three times more the 8 classes level… (See WS pp. 183, 185, 187.) In the East, Jewish women’s advance was much more limited to the 4 classes level (2-3 fold), due obviously to Orthodox restrictions on secular training as such. But Roman Catholic and Lutheran women actually surpassed them somewhat at the level of 8 classes ! (See ES pp. 128, 130, 132.) The main reasons for this may be looked for in the different educational strategies, much like for men. Jewish women attended much more often initial secondary classes (among others those of the polgári), not infrequently with the purpose of applying the skills obtained as trade attendants (possibly in family businesses) or otherwise, without seeking further ’useless’ or purely decorative secular learning in graduation.     

A final important difference separating Jews and Christians in the educational market has to do with the shape of the educational pyramid of men in the two regional settings. Christians typically had more of those with 8 secondary classes than with only 4 classes. The Jewish pyramid was all but the inversion of the Gentile one, except in the age groups of young adults. Though Jewish men were strongly over-represented among secondary graduates, even more or as many of them had only 4 classes education. This is clearly demonstrated by the fact that ’representation indices’ (the columns of figures 2 and 3 on left pages of our data banks) are always higher for Jewish men for the category of ’4 classes and more’ than for ’8 classes and more’. Jewish educational investment had thus a much larger basis than that of Christians.

Such differences may reflect, once again, thoroughly divergent educational strategies. Jews sought much more often than Gentiles enrolment throughout the period in schooling options of shorter length, like polgári, reáliskola (many of these not leading to graduation, being only ’incomplete’ or alreáliskola with 4-6 classes), since this offered immediate access to appointments as clerks, managers of family businesses, private executives, etc. Even when the classical track (gymnasium) was pursued, Jewish pupils would more often abandon their studies before graduation in case of serious scholarly failure. They were also statistically much more rarely engaged in schooling options conducive to ’petty intellectual’ positions like priests or primary teachers. This gave rise to a very large proportion of young Jewish males with incomplete secondary education, a fact particularly striking for the elderly generations in Eastern Slovakia (see ES pp.126 and 137). In Orthodox Jewry classical secondary studies with Latin - associated with pagan or Christian civilisation and crowned by graduation (érettségi), liable to lead to integration in the Christian middle classes - appeared to be much less desirable or even tolerable as secular education in a polgári or, possibly, in a commercial highschool. The latter were justified by the practical knowledge they taught, useful in trade and less likely to ’alienate’ alumni from their Jewish roots. Gentiles, on the other hand, sought more often education for purposes of social ’gentrification’ best guaranteed by graduation from a gymnasium with Latin. This is why Christian families (especially Magyar ones with gentry background or aspirations) tended to disregard or even despise ’practical’ job prospects (as opened up by the polgári or the felsõ kereskedelmi) outside the occupational sphere of the gentlemanly middle class and pushed their offspring towards the érettségi at any price, notably regardless of their scholarly achievements. Moreover, Gentiles also headed often for semi-intellectual careers in the Churches and in public schools requiring 8 secondary classes (or permitting one’s self-qualification as such, as if one had completed them).

Compared to the contrast between Jews and Christians, disparities among Christians appear to be minor indeed, the main one consisting in the hierarchy of achievements – with Lutherans above the others - discussed above. A central issue in this respect, opposing Lutherans and other Christians on the one hand, against those of Greek persuasion on the other, is related to ethnicity. It would be interesting to check empirically the hypothesis related to the impact of ethnically defined performance patterns on educational accomplishments observed among denominational clusters. In concrete terms it would be worth exploring to what extent the German-Zipser or Slovak majority among Lutherans and Roman Catholics in several counties of the regions under scrutiny – well objectified in the last column of the left side in the tables of our data banks – could affect the educational attainments of the clusters concerned. A systematic study of ethnic dimensions cannot, alas, be undertaken on the basis of our data because of the absence of specific information about schooling simultaneously for both variables (religion and ethnicity) and even more so in respect of Magyar assimilees of alien background. ’Assimilated’ status can though be estimated for some clusters (like Jews declaring Magyar mother tongue, and sometimes for others too). Our present data combinations mix up some of the possibly most relevant distinctions between Germanizing and Magyarizing Jews, between German-Zipsers and Germanizing Jews, or between Lutheran and Catholic Slovaks or Slovak-Magyar assimilees. Still some insights (albeit not necessarily conclusive ones for our purposes) about the ’ethnic impact’ may be drawn from our data.   

Let us resort to indications of 8 years of secondary studies or more for men as a basis for the following experimental comparisons.

Among Roman Catholics in Eastern Slovakia two cases of ’over-representation’ can be found in Bereg and Ung counties (see the county indices on columns 3 and 4 on the left side of each table in ES and WS). In Bereg the majority of them were Magyar (65 %) with probably some assimilated Germans among them, since over one quarter of the Catholic population (27 %) was German proper. But in Ung there were no Germans at all in the cluster, made up by Slovaks (42 %) and Magyars (47 %) including, it would seem, some Slovak assimiliees. No ’ethnic impact’ can be thus detected in these figures.

Among Lutherans in Eastern Slovakia the most striking occurrence of over-representation concerns the same counties Bereg and Ung, but the Lutheran cluster is present there in insignificant numbers only (0.4 % of the population). In Bereg Lutherans are divided between Magyars (50 %) and Slovaks (41 %), while in Ung there was a Magyar majority among them (68 %) with smaller German and Slovak shares. The only Eastern Slovakian county historically dominated by a German-Lutheran majority (68 %) was Szepes, but the educational score of Lutherans there hardly attained the regional average. On the contrary, in the ’most Slovak-Lutheran’  counties of Gömör (67 % Slovaks among Lutherans) or Sáros (84 % Slovaks among Lutherans), or even Abauj-Torna (40 % Slovaks with 55 % Magyars, including Slovak assimilees among Lutherans) educational performances were actually even much below average, though Lutherans in general remained even there somewhat over-represented among the best educated.   

This short report on the main general findings identifiable in our two data banks on Slovakia must be considered experimental by nature. No similar attempts have ever been made to study, let alone to produce, such a complex set of figures on the social conditions of differences in educational attainment, combining not less than four independent and decisive variables (counties or cities, religion, gender, age) together with levels of education and – separately for residential districts – ethnicity. The difficulties of interpreting such data are of the same order as the complexity of the information contained in them. Still, this summary exploration of some of the major dimensions of educational inequalities in Slovakia will help scholars to explain forthcoming similar results to be published soon on other regions in the present collection. This should apply notably to Transylvania, the Banat or the Trans-Tisza region, where ethnic background and denominational status coincided historically more often (even if not always unambiguously) than they did in the two regions which have just been discussed.     

1 Victor Karády, Péter Tibor Nagy, Educational Inequalities and Denominations, 1910, Database for Western Slovakia and North-Western Hungary, Budapest, John Wesley Publisher, 2004; Id. Educational Inequalities and Denominations, Database for Transdanubia, Budapest, HIER (Hungarian Institute for Educational Research), 2003.


2 A major study in this respect compares the development and the ethnically specific social functions of the educational provision in pre-1919 Slovakia to contemporary Transylvania, also part of the Hungarian Empire. See Joachim von Puttkammer, Schuhlalltag und nationale Integration in Ungarn. Slowaken, Rumänen und Siebenbürgen Sachsen in der Auseinandersetzung mit der ungarischen Staatsidee, 1867-1914, München, Oldenburg Verlag, 2003.


3 Calculated according to data in Magyar statisztikai évkönyv (henceforth MSÉ) 1880, IX., pp. 94-99.


4 Following data in Magyar statisztikai közlemények (henceforth MSK), 31, p. 34.


5 MSÉ, 1908, p. 349.


6 Ibid. 1911, p. 353.


7 See István Mészáros, , Középszintü iskoláink kronológiája és topográfiája, 996-1948, /Chronology and topography of our schools of secondary level, 996-1948/, Budapest, Akadémiai, 1988, p. 316.


8 For data see for example Andrea Camelli, „Universities and Professions ” in Maria Malatesta (ed.), Society and the Professions in Italy, 1860-1914, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1955, p. 53, Christophe Charle, La crise des sociétés impériales, Paris, Seuil, p. 144, Nicolas Manitakis, L’essor de la mobilité étudiante internationale á l’âge des Etats-nations. Une étude de cas : les étudiants grecs en France (1880-1940), thèse de doctorat, Paris, Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, 2004, p. 351. Maria M. Kovács, Liberal Professions, Illiberal Politics. Hungary from the Habsburgs to the Holocaust, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1994, p. 5 and 53. Id. , The Politics of the Legal Profession in Interwar Hungary, New York, Columbia Institute of East Central Europe, 1987, p. 23.


9 In 1895/6 in Western Slovakia some 14 % and in Eastern Slovakia 17 % of primary school teachers did not have formal qualifications. See MSÉ, 1896, p. 411.


10 See István Mészáros, op. cit. pp. 305-306 and 317-318.


11 A Vallás és közoktatásügyi miniszter jelentése /Yearly report of the Ministry of Religion and Education/ (henceforth  VKM jelentés) 1870-re, pp. 356-359.


12  MSÉ 1880, IX., pp. 94-99.


13 VKM jelentés 1890, pp. 154-157 and 162-163.


14 VKM jelentés 1896, pp. 236-243.


15  MSÉ 1911, pp. 344-345.










20 So called felsõbb népiskola, polgári iskola and  felsõbb lányisko


21 Schools run by the State, municipal governments, associations or private perso


22 In 10


23 In 10


24 Rat. line – last but one at the bottom of our tables - WS pp. 180, 186, 192, 198 and ES pp. 126, 131, 137, 143.


25 Yearly proportions of the dead in 1912 and 1913 (source : handwritten reports from the Archives of the Central Statistical Office in Budapest) as compared to the 1910 population from our data banks, as in the preceding note. Tiny denominational diasporas, hardly represented in Upper Hungary (like Unitarians) are disregarded in these indices

26 See ES p. 1


27 See WS p. 1


28 Calculations following data in MSK, 56, pp. 764-769 (for the size of the medical staffs) and MSK , 64, p. 84 (for the size of the relevant populations


29 Cf. MSÉ, 1896, p. 4


30 Ibid., 1911, p. 34


31 All the non Magyar (mostly German and Romanian) gymnasiums and reáliskola were indeed located in Transylvania or Southern Hungary (with one Serbian gymnasium in Ujvidék/Novi Sad and since 1870 an Italian one in Fiume)

32 This included, among other things, the foundation of the public sector of secondary education with many state and city run gymnasiums, reáliskola, polgári – a sector utterly lacking before 1867 – as well as the second Hungarian university in Kolozsvár. If the number of gymnasiums and reáliskola did not much increase from the 1860s to the 1890s (remaining the same – 22 - in Western Slovakia and moving from 20 to 24 in Eastern Slovakia – see Mészáros,  op. cit., pp. 298, 305 and 306 ), by 1897 not less than 49 polgári and felsõbb népiskola were founded in Western Slovakia and 22 in Eastern Slovakia – see MSÉ 1898, p. 296). Thus the number of secondary schools producing alumni with at least 4 secondary classes doubled or tripled respectively in the two regions, even if the equally new higher commercial schools (founded after 1868) are disregarded here. In the whole country some 36 new classical secondary schools were added in the Dualist period up till 1910 to the hitherto operating network of 67. (See István Mészáros, op. cit. pp. 354-45


33 I tried to account for the long, denominationally differential stagnation of secondary and university enrollments between the 1860s and the late 1880s on the country level in my study :  „A középiskolai elitképzés elsõ történelmi funkcióváltása (1867-1945)”, /The first functional transformation of elite training in Hungarian secondary schools/, in Iskolarendszer és felekezeti egyenlõtlenségek Magyarországon (1967-1945), /School system and confessional inequalities in Hungary, 1867-1945/, Budapest, Replika-könyvek, 1997, pp. 169-1


34 For some small clusters in our data banks, the hypothesis of such occasional, seasonal or final migrations can be ascertained by the fact that demographically improbably large proportions of them belonged to categories of young adults. Thus around half of Greek Catholic (53 % - WS, pp. 176-177) and Greek Orthodox men (49 % - WS pp. 178-179), representing together a mere 0.20 % of the West Slovakian male county population belonged to age groups 15-29, as against less than half as many (23 %) of Roman Catholics, Lutherans or Jews – those who made up the majority in the region. In cities similar disparities can be found, especially in Western Slovakia, with as many as 59 % of Greek Catholic and 67 % of Greek Orthodox men in the young adult age groups as against 33 % for all other men (WS p. 188-193). Significantly enough, another somewhat bigger group, the Calvinists (2 % of the population) also shared such over-representation among young adults (with 45 % - see WS p. 188


35 With the exception of a small group of assistants, janitors and servants attached to public agencies (administrations, schools, hospitals, tribunals, etc.) as well as to professionals – also classified in the census in the branch of ’intellectuals


36 Obviously enough, the social benefits of advanced learning consisted not only in professional usage but could also be employed – among other things – in fields as different as integration in middle class circles, share of the scholarly culture of ruling elites, cultural assimilation of those with alien ethnic culture (Jews, Germans, Slavs, Romanians in the Hungarian nation state), entitlement to fight in duels and become ’reserve officers’ following ’voluntary’ army service (for those with secondary school graduation – érettségi), etc

37 For the size of the category ’intellectuals’ in the two regions by denominations see MSK, 56, pp. 712-781 passim


38 See notably my books : Iskolarendszer és társadalmi egyenlõtlenségek…, op. cit. and Zsidóság és társadalmi egyenlõtlenségek (1867-1945), /Jewry and social inequalities, 1867-1945/, Budapest, Replika-kör, 2000, pp. 169-2


39 In the 1890s there were in the two Slovakian regions only 4 public (state or city run) gymnasiums as against 10 Protestant and 15 Catholic ones. It is true though that among the 6 reáliskola in these regions all but one were under public authority. Interestingly enough, the only exception was a Jewish alreáliskola (not directly preparing for érettségi) in Vágújhely, the only Hungarian-Jewish secondary school before 1919. (See István Mészáros, op. cit. pp. 299-302.) By the end of the Dualist era in 1917 the number of public secondary schools in Slovakia rose to 15 as against 25 Catholic ones, with 10 Protestant schools (see ibid. pp. 312-314.), whereby the dominance of the Churches over the elite educational market remained basically unchallenged

40 See MSÉ 1896, p. 4


41 Data from VKM jelentés of respective years as quoted above for Table