Education in Serbia
|Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development|
|Minister for Education||Tomislav Jovanović|
|National education budget|
|Budget||4.7% of GDP (2010) – 84th ranking of government expenditure on education worldwide.|
Education in Serbia is divided into preschool (predškolsko), primary school (osnovna škola), secondary school (srednja škola) and higher education (visoko obrazovanje) levels. It is regulated by the Ministry of Education and Science of Republic of Serbia.
- 1 History of education
- 2 Historical system (prior to 2005)
- 3 General principles
- 4 Facultativities
- 5 Schoolyear organization
- 6 Educational system
- 7 Special education
- 8 Academic degrees
- 9 Education organization
- 10 Multilateral agreements
- 11 Gallery
- 12 References
History of education
The beginnings of education in Serbia date from 11th and 12th century with the establishment of schools at Roman Catholic monasteries in Titel and Bač in today's Vojvodina, which was then part of the Kingdom of Hungary. People were also educated in Serbian Orthodox monasteries like Sopoćani, Studenica and Patriarchate of Peć.
After the fall of medieval Serbian state, among newly established schools were Slavic and Latin schools. In 1778, Serbian primary school Norma was established in Sombor. In 1791, Gymnasium of Karlovci, the oldest Serbian gymnasium, was established.
During the First Serbian Uprising, Belgrade Higher School was established in 1808. In 1838, in Kragujevac, Liceum of Serbian Principality was established. It was moved to Belgrade in 1841. In 1863, it merged into the Belgrade Higher School. It had 3 faculties: philosophy, engineering and law. Later, it became the University of Belgrade.
University of Belgrade was established in 1905. After World War II, more universities were established, including University of Novi Sad (1960), University of Niš (1965), University of Pristina (1969), University of Montenegro (1974) and University of Kragujevac (1976).
Historical system (prior to 2005)
Before 2005 (the implementation of the Bologna Process and comprehensive educational reform), Serbian implemented the system from the Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia. Preschool education was optional and primary and secondary education were the same. As of school year 2005-2006, previous Diploma visokog obrazovanja has been equalized with Master's degree, and Magister with the two years of doctoral studies (one year until doctorate) (because of the same length). Quaternary education has been abolished and its contents were moved to tertiary education.
Historical system ranked students by professional qualification (stručna sprema). Those who graduated primary school were qualified as unqualified workers (nekvalifikovani radnik), while those who graduated gymnasium were semi-qualified workers (polukvalifikovani radnik).
Those who graduated professional high school had secondary professional qualification (srednja stručna sprema), those with higher school higher professional qualification (viša stručna sprema), while those with university had high professional degree (visoka stručna sprema).
Degrees of professionality
Other than professional qualification ranking that indicated workers' ability to work, there also were degrees of professionality (stepen stručne spreme). Those who graduated gymnasiums had the IV degree (reserved for four-year professional schools), even though they were classified as semi-qualified workers and don't/didn't have neither the professional education nor ability to work non-physical jobs. The degrees were:
- I degree - Lower grades of primary school (4 years for degree; 4 years in total)
- II degree - Higher grades of primary school (4 years for degree; 8 years in total)
- III degree - Three-year professional school (3 years for degree; 11 years in total)
- IV degree - Four-year professional school (4 years for degree; 12 years in total)
- V degree - Four-year professional school (4 years for degree; 12 years in total)
- VI degree - Higher school (3 years for degree; 15 years in total)
- VII1 degree - Visoko obrazovanje (5 years for degree; 17 years in total)
- VII2 degree - Magistracy (2 years for degree; 19 years in total)
- VIII degree - Doctorate/PhD (1 year for degree; 20 years in total)
Students are organized into classes (odeljenje) of at least 5 for preschools and at least 15 for primary and high schools.
Most primary and high schools have their Student council (đački savet/parlament) and Peer Team (vršnjački tim).
Student councils propose events and improvements and give their opinion about particular subjects to school principals, while Peer Teams deal with students' problems (helping bad students learn or helping someone integrate into peer groups) with the help of professional psychologist. In schools without Peer teams, its actions are all on the psychologist.
Parent are organized into Parent councils (savet roditelja). Parent councils propose excursions, watch over actions involving students' money and debate about events happening in school. In schools without Student council, Parent council solely practices all aforementioned actions.
Every subject (except PE) has its own textbook (students aren't obliged to have all textbooks). Textbooks are chosen by the teachers of the particular school, and they are bought in the local bookstore, or as second-hand (from those who passed the particular grade).
As of school year 2009-2010, all 1st grade primary school students are granted textbooks for free, provided they return them at the end of school year "usable". However, even "unusable" (damaged) books are accepted, and no-one is fined, as minister Žarko Obradović said.
Free textbooks in higher grades were only available for poor students in the past, but now students in Belgrade get their textbooks free of charge but are bound to return them at the end of the school year.
The grading system is numeric and is present in this form through elementary school and high school. Grades from 1 (the lowest and failing grade) to 5 (the best grade) are used for primary and high schools:
- Insufficient (1) corresponds to American F
- Sufficient (2) corresponds to American D and C
- Good (3) corresponds to American C and B grades
- Very good (4) corresponds to American B+ and A- grades
- Excellent (5) corresponds to American A and A+ grades
Higher schools and universities use grades from 1 to 10. All students have to acquire at least 6 (the lowest passing grade). Grades for the 1st grade of primary school are 'descriptive' (teacher writes down the impressions about the particular student and particular subjects).
Foreigners and stateless
Foreign citizens and stateless students are enrolled on the same principle as Serbian citizens are. The only difference is that they are provided free Serbian classes (in case they don't already know Serbian) prior to enrollment so they could understand lectures in school. If the student is from a European country, they can be provided the lectures of mother tongue and culture, free or with compensation.
All students have to submit their medical report when proceeding to the next educational level. A psychologist's report is also needed if enrolling in primary school. Compulsory vaccinations, physical examinations and dental checkups are carried out in schools for free. Also, during compulsory school running races and similar events, medical teams are always present.
Primary schools can have cafeterias which provide students with meals for the lowest price. They offer mostly croissants with the filling, but some have hamburgers, french fries and more. Some schools offer cooked meals, but their cost is much higher. Excursions (ekskurzija) are one- or two-day trips to places around Serbia and Europe and are organized by the particular school and only in primary and high schools. Supplementary education is carried out for students with aspirations of learning more about the particular subject, participate in competitions, earn scholarships and prepare for further education. Complementary education is carried out for students with bad grades. Its goals are to help students catch up with lectures, not with learning lesson only for the test, but also with remembering core part of that lesson for longer. It can also be attended by students with higher grades, especially as a preparation for the upcoming test.
Preschool education is attended during the 1st grade enrollment year. It lasts for at least 4 hours a day for at least 6 months. After it, students pass an exam of ability to attend primary school.
Primary and secondary education
The school year for primary and high schools lasts for 9½ months, except for 8th grade of primary and 3rd/4th grade of secondary school, for which it last 9 months. It begins on September 1st, and ends in the half of June (June 15 ±5 days). For 8th grade of primary and 3rd/4th grade of secondary school, it end in beginning of June (about one week earlier than for others).
The school year is split into 2 semesters (polugodište), and semesters are split into 4 quarters (tromesečje).
Students have 5 holidays a school year: one in November (quarter holiday; lasts for 2 days), one in January (New Year/Orthodox Christmas/semester holiday; lasts for 15 days), one in February (Serbia National Day; last for 2 days), one in April (Orthodox Easter/quarter holiday; lasts for about 10 days) and one in May (International Workers' Day; last for 2 days).
Between school years, in summer, there is summer holiday which last for 2½ months (3 months for those proceeding to high school or university. So, students have about 85 working days in the first semester and 95 in the second semester; 180 in total).
Throughout a school year, there are 2 compulsory school running races (kros) - one in September and one in May.
The school year is split into 2 semesters (semestar), beginning approximately a month later than primary and secondary semesters (polugodište) do. Exam period is conducted several times during times of primary and secondary education holidays.
As of school year 2006-2007, preschool in duration of 6 months is compulsory and it is the first part of compulsory education. Attended at the age of 5 or 6 in the local kindergarten (vrtić), it familiarizes students with the educational system.
Children enroll in primary schools (osnovna škola) at the age of 6 or 7 and it lasts for eight years. It's the second part of compulsory education.
The elementary school is divided into two stages:
- Lower grades (grades 1-4)
- Higher grades (grades 5-8)
In the lower grades, students are sorted into classes randomly and have only one teacher (male učitelj; female učiteljica) and classroom (učionica) for all subjects (predmet), except the English, P.E. and religion teacher (male nastavnik; female nastavnica). Students in the lower grades study the following subjects (as of school year 2005-2006, it is compulsory to learn English language from the 1st grade):
- Mathematics (matematika) (only basics (counting and calculation) in 1st and 2nd grade)
- Mother tongue (maternji jezik) (Serbian, Hungarian, Albanian, Romani etc.)
- Serbian as a second language (srpski kao nematernji jezik) (for those whose mother tongue isn't Serbian)
- Fine art (likovna kultura) (drawing and painting; art theory only in higher grades)
- English language (engleski jezik) (first compulsory foreign language)
- Music (muzička kultura) (singing, reading notes and playing instruments (recorder or synthesizer))
- Physical education (fizičko vaspitanje) (basic exercises, running, sports and P.E. equipment usage)
- The world around us (svet oko nas) (for 1st and 2nd grades) and nature and society (priroda i društvo) (for 3rd and 4th grades)
- Compulsory elective (civics (gradjansko) or religious education (veronauka))
- Optional electives (penmanship (lepo pisanje) for 1st grade, national tradition (narodna tradicija) for 4th grade, ecology (čuvari prirode (Nature watchers)) (expansion of world around us and nature and society) for all lower primary grades)
In the higher grades children get separate teachers (male nastavnik; female nastavnica) and classrooms (kabinet) for all subjects and new subjects (those specified as for particular lower primary grades are omitted in higher primary grades):
- From 5th grade: biology (biologija), geography (geografija), history (istorija), second foreign language, technical sciences (tehničko), sport and another compulsory elective (computer sciences (informatika) or drawing, painting, sculpting (crtanje, slikanje, vajanje)
- From 6th grade: physics (fizika)
- From 7th grade: chemistry (hemija)
When a student finishes 8th grade of elementary school he or she then chooses to continue education or not. National Strategy for Education Until 2020 foresees compulsory secondary education. Education minister Žarko Obradović said that even though strategy will be implemented in the future, it requires constitutional changes.
Secondary schools (srednja škola) are divided into two types - gymnasiums and professional.
- Gymnasiums (gimnazija) last for four years and offer general and broad education, awarding students High school diploma. Only few jobs are available for students without further education. Two special gymnasiums are Matematička gimnazija, enrolling students aged 12 (elementary grade 7) and above, and philology gymnasiums, offering language courses.
- Professional schools (stručna škola) specialize students in particular fields and award them first professional degree. There are 2 types of professional school courses - 4-year ones (relatively broad education with the possibility of further education) and 3-year ones (almost strictly streamlined education without the possibility of further education).
Entrance exams consist of Mathematics and Serbian language exam (završni ispit). From school year 2013/2014, the third exam will also be conducted and it will contain questions from biology, history, physics, geography and chemistry. If a student wants bilingual education, he or she also has to pass the second foreign language test (prijemni ispit). Other forms of prijemni ispit are exams for gifted and art schools.
Students in gymnasiums usually choose their educational orientation between socio-lingual sciences (društveno-jezički smer) and natural sciences (prirodno-matematički smer). However, there also are computer sciences (informatički smer) and general type (opšti tip). General type gives students feeling they're actually continuing elementary school, since it has all the classes elementary school had, plus Latin. There also are sport gymnasiums (sportska gimnazija). While professional schools add professional subjects, gymnasiums add a third foreign language. Most offer Latin. However, gymnasiums started switching from Latin to Chinese. Only few jobs are available for gymnasium graduates.
It is possible to change some professional school courses in the last year of secondary education. For example, if a student studying an auto mechanic course finds a locksmith job in Russia, he or she can apply for prequalification (not to be confused with the financial term). With a course difference test, he or she gets a locksmith diploma instead of auto mechanic one.
Tertiary level institutions (visokoškolska ustanova) accept students based on their grades in high school and entrance exams results:
- Higher schools (viša škola) last 3 years. They correspond to professional universities. The difference is that professional universities last 3-8 years (just as normal ones do) and offer common tertiary degrees, while higher schools last only for 3 years and offer special higher school diploma. However, since Serbia signed Bologna Process in 2003, higher schools are to be reformed in accordance with it.
- Faculties (fakultet) of universities (univerzitet) and art academies (akademija umetnosti) last for 3 years until baccalaurate, 5 years until magistracy and 8 years until doctorate. Only exception are Medical schools, lasting for 6 years until Doctor of Medicine.
Postgraduate education (post-diplomske studije) was made of further specialization and doctorate during the times of Socialist Yugoslavia. However, the Bologna Process (which Serbia signed in 2003) abolished the quaternary education and incorporated it into the tertiary education. Specialization today is non-academic and considered as improvement in different parts of the profession (seminars, researches, etc.), and doctorate is considered as the third part of the bachelor-master-doctor continuum present in the tertiary educational system.
Education of disabled is handled both in ordinary schools and special schools.
As of schoolyear 2009-2010, higher grade primary school students and high school students can be organized into special classes, which are based on bilingual education (dvojezička/bilingvalna nastava). Children are taught on Serbian and either English, French or Italian.
As of schoolyear 2009-2010, full-day classes (celodnevna nastava) are held. They are designed for children with busy parents. They are organized only for lower grades of primary schools. Children have morning classes, afternoon classes and breaks for play, homework, lunch etc. They have separate teachers for separate shifts. This gives students possibility to be in school for the longest part of the day with their classmates and do all the homework and other school obligations at school.
Full-day classes are the extension of already present 'extended stay' (produženi boravak), which allows students to stay at school after the morning shift (typically ending at noon) until their parents come home from work (typically 3-5 pm). Schools offering full-day classes also offer 'extended stay'.
As of schoolyear 2011-2012, adult education was launched under the name Druga šansa (Second chance). Its purpose is to educate people who didn't graduate primary or high school or both, so they could have better chances of getting a work. Most people attending adult education are minors who missed their chance to enroll in primary schools (most of them being of Roma descent).
Primary and high schools
- Osnovnoškolsko svedočanstvo (Primary school testimony; after 8 years of primary school) → 8 years of education
- Trogodišnja stručna diploma (First professional degree; after 3 years of professional school) → 11 (8+3) years of education
- Četvorogodišnja stručna diploma (First professional degree; after 4 years of professional school) → 12 (8+4) years of education
- Gimnazijska diploma (Gymnasium diploma; after 4 years of gymnasium) → 12 (8+4) years of education
- Viša diploma (Advanced professional degree; after 3 years of higher school) → 15 (8+4+3) years of education
- Bačelorat/bakalavrat (Bachelor's degree; after 3 years of university studies) → 15 (8+4+3) years of education
- Specijalist/professional master (Professional master's degree; after 4 years of Universities of applied studies) → 16 (8+4+4) years of education
- Magistratura/master (Master's degree; after 5 years of university studies) → 17 (8+4+5) years of education
- Doktorat (Doctorate/PhD; after 3 years of doctoral studies) → 20 (8+4+5+3) years of education
- Medicinski fakultet (Doctor of Medicine (MD); after 6 years of medical studies) → 18 (8+4+6) years of education
- Medicinska specijalnost (Medical specialty (MD/Spec); after 5 years of medical sprecialization) → 23 (8+4+6+5) years of education
- Medicinski doktorat (Medical doctorate (MD/PhD); after 6 years of doctoral specialization) → 24 (8+4+6+6) years of education
(Četvorogodišnja stručna škola)
(Trogodišnja stručna škola)
|18-19||Medical School (MD)
Higher school diploma
|23-24||Doctor of Medicine|
|27-28||Medical doctorate (MD/PhD)
|Medical specialty (MD/Spec)
- International Convention on the Recognition of Studies and Degrees in the Arab and European States on the Mediterranean (2001)
- Unesco Convention On the Recognition of Studies and Degrees Concerning Higher Education in the Europe Region (2001)
- Bologna Process (2003) Implemented from schoolyear 2005-2006, it altered the tertiary and abolished quaternary education.
- Convention on the Recognition of Qualifications concerning Higher Education in the Europe Region (2004)
- "Serbia". The World Factbook. Central Intelligence Agency. 2013-10-11. Retrieved 2013-10-11.
- (Serbian) http://www.mpn.gov.rs/sajt/index.php?page=1
- (Serbian) http://www.latipro.net/pagadm/strspreme.asp
- It's compulsory to finish all 8 grades of primary school today.
- Fifth degree was awarded after passing a few more exams than for fourth degree, showing 'further' professional knowledge.
- (Serbian) http://www.blic.rs/Vesti/Drustvo/106648/Besplatne-knjige-za---prvake-stigle-u-skole
- (Serbian) http://www.mpn.gov.rs/prosveta/page.php?page=76
- (Serbian) http://www.blic.rs/Vesti/Drustvo/286393/Vlada-nema-para-za-djacke-kuhinje
- (Serbian) http://www.blic.rs/Vesti/Drustvo/326619/Nema-vise-ekskurzija-u-inostranstvo
- (Serbian) http://www.mpn.gov.rs/prosveta/page.php?page=12
- (Serbian) http://www.mpn.gov.rs/prosveta/page.php?page=75
- (Serbian) http://www.mpn.gov.rs/prosveta/page.php?page=12
- (Serbian) http://www.blic.rs/Vesti/Drustvo/309985/Srednja-skola-obavezna
- (Serbian) http://www.novosti.rs/vesti/naslovna/aktuelno.290.html:373344-Probno-testiranje-za-djake-sestog-razreda
- (Serbian) http://www.blic.rs/Vesti/Srbija/293763/Gimnazijalci-u-Pirotu-ce-uciti-na-francuskom-i-srpskom
- (Serbian) http://www.blic.rs/Vesti/Beograd/35484/Celodnevna-nastava-za-nize-razrede
- (Serbian) http://www.blic.rs/Vesti/Drustvo/283576/Produzen-boravak-za-osnovce
- (Serbian) http://www.blic.rs/Vesti/Beograd/240862/Druga-sansa-za-osnovno-obrazovanje-odraslih
- To be abolished for the establishment of professional tertiary degrees (bachelor, master and doctoral) in accordance with the Bologna Process.
- Medical and doctoral specializations in Serbia consist of 3 years of medical residency and 2 years of specialty studies or 3 years of doctoral studies.
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