The Benedictine Secondary School of Pannonhalma is a boarding school for boys, one of the most distinguished secondary schools in Hungary, led by and situated next to the thousand-year-old Pannonhalma Benedictine Archabbey.
Education began soon after the foundation in 996, so this date can be regarded as the beginning of school education in Hungary. Education had to be ceased at the Turkish invasion in the middle of the XVI century, but it re-started in 1690, teaching would-be monks after secondary school. The Benedictine order was dissolved in 1786 by Joseph II
; it was taken up from 1802, and the education started again. From 1919, the leadership wanted to open a public school, and they succeeded in 1921 with 22 students. In 1932, however, due to the economic depression, it had to be closed. It re-opened in its present form in 1939 as an "Italian" secondary school, with emphasis on the Italian language and culture. By this year, it received separate buildings for the education and the dormitories, which are still in use. In 1948 it was brought under State control, and it could reopen in 1950. It was among the few Catholic schools which didn't cease functioning even in the Socialist era (which ended in 1989). Under the 1995 renovations the secondary school was completely renewed.
Although it is a prestigious school, usually among the top five of Hungary (cf. Public school (UK)
), only a small tuition fee is required, in accordance with one's means. Today there are about 300 students studying here for four or six years (from the age of 12 or 14), until the maturity examination certificate
at the age of 18. There are usually two classes in every year, each with 30-40 people.
Students are allowed to choose between German and English, and between Italian, French and Latin (of course, they may take up further languages as well). Specialization is possible from the age of 16 in any two subjects. Approximately half the teachers are monks, and the other half is lay (men and women). There are several study circles available for the students, and they may see movies in the school twice a week (usually an art film on Wednesday and a popular film on Saturday). Students live in dormitories of 30 until the age of 16, and in rooms of 4 (sometimes 2) persons during the last two years.