Talent support as a major topic of Hungary’s EU presidency

1. Justification

Novel concept of talent support: According to Renzulli, the famous American psychologist, talent is the interaction of intellectual ability (intelligence), high level of creativity (originality) and high level of task commitment (diligence, persistence). Optimal talent support looks like a pyramid, where exceptionally gifted young people receive possibilities, while at lower layers of the pyramid upward transitions are heavily promoted. This novel concept of talent support extends the earlier “talent-base” of the earlier top 1% ‘geniuses’, and includes at least one third of the total population greatly improving the chances of gifted, but underprivileged young people. The novel concept perceives everyone as potentially gifted, completely disqualifies the stigma of ‘untalented’ as scientifically unprovable, and instead of rigid elitism greatly improves social mobility.

EU justification

Talent has become a key factor in determining the competitiveness of a country. Developing a culture to promote and foster talents helps people to find the right career, achieve success in it, stimulates and spreads innovation and creativity, economic growth, leads to higher competitiveness, reduces inequality of opportunities, increases social mobility, helps to overcome the problems of underprivileged and increases social cohesion as well.

Promotion of talent support as a major topic in the EU is justified by the achievements of the European Year of Creativity and Innovation 2009. Furthermore, talent support is also listed among the general strategic objectives of the EU Group Presidency 2010-2011 as a goal to increase competitiveness. Talent support is also in direct connection with the „European Year of Volunteering 2011” (2010/37/EC Council decision). Besides school activities talent support is often carried out by NGO-s using volunteer work.

Hungarian priority

Talent support has long traditions in Hungary, which have created a large number of successful programmes run by schools, state/local governments, churches and NGO-s. Hungarian priority of talent support is exemplified by the 20-year long National Talent Support Programme adopted by the Hungarian Parliament in 2008, which secures a continuous and long-term support of talents establishing policy guidelines and a National Talent Fund providing approximately 5 million EUR/year monetary support. All these activities were promoted and are backed by the Hungarian National Talent Support Council, which is an umbrella organization of currently 28 NGO-s established in 2006. The Council is the organizer of a 3 million EUR talent support project (called Hungarian Genius Project) aiming to make a nationwide talent support network funded by the EU Structural and Social Funds (http://www.geniuszportal.hu/?q=node/286). This project also involves a 10 million EUR grant-scheme to support local activities between 2009 and 2011. Between 2008 and 2010 more than 250 Talent Points have been established in Hungary. Talent Points help young people (their teachers, parents, friends, etc.), who want to learn and develop their talents. Talent Points are forming a nationwide network helping each other.

European Council of High Ability (ECHA, established in 1987) is the EU civil umbrella organization for promoting giftedness. In 2000 the 7th international ECHA conference was organized in Debrecen. The ECHA diploma (diploma of „Specialist in Gifted Education”) can be obtained at the University of Debrecen since 1997. Until now nearly one thousand pedagogues have achieved this diploma, which is an outstandingly high number compared to the European average.

Hungary has achieved outstanding results in talent support of underprivileged young people both at the level of state and civil organizations. Hungary took on a leading role in collecting and disseminating the best practices of talent support in the Carpathian Basin. Within its framework an international conference with approximately 150 participants will be organized in September 2010 in Szováta (Romania). In 2006 an international Talent Conference was organized in Hungary (Budapest, Miskolc) with the participation of 20 European countries, which gave the opportunity to civil organizations, scientists and political decision makers to discuss the issues of promoting giftedness considering also the European dimensions.

Expected results

The Hungarian presidency can initiate important co-operations regarding talent support, it can draw attention to the unexploited capacities of promoting giftedness. Our goal is to get realized that supporting young talents contributes to increasing social mobility, and the social-economic profit resulting from talent support can be one of the keys on Europe’s emergence from the upcoming waves of economic crisis. Our goal is to build a talent-friendly Europe, which draws and not exports young talents.

2. EU policy context

Education and training 2020

The EU 2020 strategy succeeding the Lisbon strategy will organize the creation of a competitive Europe on a new basis. As a result of the economic crisis for the sake of sustainable growth more emphasis has to be laid on social cohesion, on stimulation of social integration, and on increasing economic competitiveness through innovation and creativity. Though the strategy does not name talent support explicitly, it will definitely contribute to many of the main objectives and goals of the EU. Talent support is also directly connected with the „European Year of Creativity and Innovation”. Talent support is connected with the 2nd and 4th objectives of the Education and Training 2020 strategic framework: 2: Improving quality of education and training, and 4: Development of innovation and creativity on all levels of education and training. Both are key elements of talent support.

Education Work Plan of the Council

Talent support is connected to the priority of “the improvement of quality and efficiency of educational and training systems”.

Recommendation of the European Parliament and the Council on key competences for lifelong learning, 2006

Identification and determination of necessary key competences for personal self-realization, social cohesion and employability in a knowledge-based society is an essential objective. It has to be ensured, that young people can develop such a level of key competences which prepares them for adult life, and that adults are provided the opportunities to develop and update these competences throughout life. Contribution to economic competitiveness – the contribution of talent support to competitive Europe: the development of talent support as a break-out

  • a, indirectly: the role of talent support in increasing competitiveness and ensuring human conditions for growth; developing creativity and problem solving competency, initiative competency, entrepreneurship, cooperative competency;
  • b, directly: development of talent support within the framework of school programmes and programmes of NGO-s, its expansion by building talent support networks (propagation of so called best practices, introduction of the already functioning Hungarian network)

Conclusions about promoting creativity and innovation through education and training (adopted by the Council of the European Union in May 2008)

The Conclusions laid down that

  • a) creativity and innovative ability are essential for sustainable economic and social growth in Europe, these questions should be more emphasized in future European co-operation in the field of education,
  • b) all levels of education and training can contribute to creativity and innovation throughout the lifelong learning process: the early stages of education focus on motivation, acquiring learning to learn competences and other key competences, while in later stages acquiring, developing and using knowledge and new ideas gains in importance,
  • c) educational and training systems play - beyond their main task to ensure the learning of key competences and solid abilities for the knowledge triangle - a crucially important role in developing creative and innovative competences, which are key factors in promoting future economic competitiveness and the welfare of individuals.

In 2004 on the initiative of Austria a Central European exchange of professional experience on talent support was started, its participants are: co-workers of civil organizations and experts from civil service (decision makers). Central European Co-operation for Education (CECE) – based on co-operation and initiatives in the field of quality and efficiency of education. Locations of meetings: Salzburg (2004), Prague (2006), Ljubljana (2007), Warsaw (2009). In 2006 Eurydice summarized in a publication all best practices of talent support in the EU (title: Specific Educational Measures to Promote all Forms of Giftedness at School in Europe). Based on the co-operation of the Visegrád Four countries, the experiences of talent support in Hungary were presented on 2-4. December 2009 in a workshop organized for experts of education and culture of competent ministries.

3. Planned presentation of the theme during the Hungarian EU presidency in 2011

Objectives and expected results

Our aim is to evolve an extensive professional discourse about the role of talent support in education during the Hungarian presidency. To achieve this, we will organize a professional conference on talent support, where best practices of talent support in Europe can be presented and the foundations of EU policies reflecting to the importance of talent support can be laid. In context of the professional conference we will organize the first European Talent Day, which is an event to focus the attention on talent support and to promote talent-friendly communities and society. To ensure the continuity of talent-related consultations at the EU level we will propose the establishment of an OMC expert group on talent support.

Objective 1: Presidential professional conference on talent support

The main themes of the professional conference are 1.) the role of talent support in the concept of 21st century schools; and 2.) the contribution of talent support to the competitiveness of the EU (connection between innovation and economic actors in education). Co-workers of ministries of education from member states dealing with talent support, and the delegates of the most important talent support-related NGO-s of EU member states will be invited. The conference will also present the best European talent support policies and practices, including the Hungarian talent support strategy as well as best practices. Planned patrons of the conference will be the president of the Republic of Hungary, the minister and state secretary responsible for education as well as the president of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, and main figures of Hungarian economy dealing with talent support. The planned date of the conference is the 7th and 9th April 2011 (Thursday - Saturday). The conference will also host the central events of the First European Talent Day.

Objective 2: European Talent Day

After successful Talent Days in Hungary, Romania and Slovakia as well as in Serbia (www.TalentDay.eu) we will consult with several EU member states to ask for their willingness to establish a series of their Talent Days in the spring period. These consultations will be gradually developed to a „European Talent Day”, which will be officially started as a Hungarian state initiative aiming at introducing talent support at the European level and expanding it into a public initiative by 2014.

Objective 3: Inclusion of talent support to EU policy documents

The importance and objectives of talent support should be incorporated into the European and state policies and practices, and furthermore, they should feature and be more emphasized in the educational and cultural documents of the EU. We would like to feature the question of talent support in the next operative term of the Education and Training Strategy (2012-2014) and we will promote a non-legislative act (NLA, e.g. Council conclusions /attitudes /recommendations) on talent support.

Objective 4: OMC expert group on talent support

To ensure the continuity of talent-related consultations at the EU level we will propose the establishment of an OMC expert group on talent support.

Authors: Mr. Sándor Brassói, Mr. Peter Csermely, Ms. Csilla Fuszek and Mrs. Szilvia Pallay