School and Education in Serbia


The 2011 census showed that close to 98% of everyone who was 15 years and older could read and write. However, the quality of education has not improved in recent decades to the same extent as in most Other Countries in Europe. The brutal war years during the 1990s brought frightened children with disturbed schooling. The years thereafter there was a lack of resources to expand the education, and international comparisons have shown that the quality continued to deteriorate into the 00s. However, the school has slowly changed on different levels. During the latter part of the 1990s, a number of reforms came and the education system has thus become more similar to what is in the EU. Rules for educational evaluation and planning are being established. Outdated methodology should be replaced by modern methods of active learning to strengthen students’ understanding and improve the quality of learning. However, it is a process that takes a long time; Teacher attitudes, as well as ethnic tensions and stereotypes, live long.

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The children start the eight-year, compulsory, free elementary school at the age of seven. For the first four years, they are taught by class teachers, then by subject teachers. For graduation from compulsory school, approved exams are required. A first foreign language is already read from the first school year and a second language from the fifth year. Foreign languages can be English, Russian, German, French, Italian or Spanish; which is given in a school is determined locally. Nearly 95% of children graduate from primary school. The exceptions are mainly children in minority families, mainly Roma.

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Nowadays, an elementary school preparatory school is also compulsory, at least for six months. The preschools are state and free. In 2009, 92% of all six-year-olds attended preschool, and more and more are attending preschool even at lower ages. Lack of above all premises means that such activities do not exist for many of the children who would most need it, ie. disabled, children in marginalized ethnic groups and children in remote rural areas. The new school legislation also covers adult education, which is an important complement to the compulsory school.

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Continuing education is of various kinds. It starts with entrance exams and ends with exams. The theoretical, college-preparatory education, corresponding to our colleges, is four years old, and there is also technical vocational education and artistic education. There are also two- and three-year vocational training courses. In 2008, 83% of all young people underwent some kind of free continuing education.

In Serbia, in 2013 there were eight state and nine private universities. The oldest and largest is Belgrade University, which after 2010 began to appear on lists of the world’s 500 leading universities. Furthermore, there are about 65 colleges for applied higher studies or with academic theoretical undergraduate education.