School systems   Serbia

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  |   Kindergartens   |   Primary schools   |   Secondary schools   |   Higher education


map: Europe - Serbiamap: Serbia

Serbia (Republic of Serbia) is a country in the Balkan Peninsula, in the South East Europe. The country covers an area of 88,361 km² and its population compromises of 10.15 million people. It was a part of Yugoslavia. The official languages is Serbian with Cyrilic alphabet.


There are total 1748 (98,7%) public and 23 (1,3%) private schools (all levels of education).

Education is compulsory for 9 years, from age of 7 (minimum 6). It's free of charge. There is a nationwide test in mathematics and Serbian which is compulsory for enrollment in secondary school. Home schooling is not allowed for primary education.


Kindergartens are not compulsory, except the last year which is now a part of compulsory education. There are up to 200 kindergartens of which 14 are private. Parents use to bring their children in between 7-8:00 and take them home around 16:00.

Primary schools

There are round 1200 primary schools, of which 5 are private, with average size of 20 students. Children are divided into classes on the first day and stay so until the graduation. Lessons take 45 minutes. From 1st to 4th grade, students have 4 lessons daily, learning to read/write both Cyrilic and Latin, Math, English, History, Geography, Music, Art and PE - al taught by one teacher. From the 5th grade, they have more subjects (specialized teachers) and have 5-6 lessons a day. Subject "Religion" (only about Christian Orthodox) is compulsory, or substitutable with subject "Citizenship". Grading systems uses 1 as best and 5 as unsatisfactory, where first two grade use only descriptive marks. All books must be certified by the ministry, however parents have to pay for all the books and materials. There are no uniforms. There is a possibility to eat at school premises up to 4th grade, but it is not used very often. There are no computers available. There are many extracurricular activities organized by the teachers, also some more day trips. If the students want to continue their education, they must pass a nationwide test which tests Serbian and Math (40% of the final score is from the test, 60% from grades from their 5-9th grade).

Secondary schools

527 public secondary schools (1 based on religion)
18 private secondary schools

Students enrol in secondary school right after completing primary school. They make a list of secondary schools they would like to attend and then the State enrols them in accordance to their final score after completing primary school.
Secondary education is not compulsory.
Public secondary schools are free of charge.
It lasts three or four years and is offered in comprehensive grammar schools, vocational schools and art schools. Secondary vocational schools offer students general and vocational (theoretical and practical) education and prepare them for work and further education.
Secondary schools are divided in three types, and children attend one depending on their choice, their elementary school grades and their entrance exams results:
- Grammar schools (gimnazija) last for four years and offer general and broad education. Students usually choose their education orientation between "languages and social sciences" and "mathematics and natural sciences".
- Professional schools (stručna škola) last for four years and specialize students in certain fields, while still offering relatively broad education.
- Vocational schools (zanatska škola) last for three years, without an option of continuing education.
All the books used have to be certified by the Ministry of Education. Students have to provide all the books and school material themselves.
A typical school day last for 7-8 hours. Students have 6-7 lessons a day. They go to school from 8:00 – 14:00 or from 14:00 – 20:00. All lessons last for 45 min. regardless of the school type. There is a 5-10 minutes break between lessons. There can be up to 40 students per class.
Everyone has to take the subject religion, which is actually only about Orthodox Christianity, during the whole time. There is a possibility to take the subject "Citizenship" instead.
Students have access to computers only during computer lessons. In majority of schools there is no access to the internet for the students.
There are not many extracurricular activities in secondary schools.
School uniforms are worn only in private schools.
There is no possibility for any kind of meal in schools.
It is common for schools to have a police officer in charge of security in the school.
During every school year the school organizes a school trip for the students. This has to be paid by parents fully. Usually in the 3rd and 4th grade students have the school trip abroad.
After completing secondary school students have to take a final test (Matura) and write a final paper on any topic they choose. All of this is more a formality but it’s obligatory.
When completing this, students are awarded the certificate of completed secondary school with all their grades stated. This is necessary when enrolling at University.

Higher education

7 public Universities with total of 84 Faculties
(e.g. there are 30 Faculties at University of Belgrade)

7 private Universities with around 40-50 Faculties

It is most common for students to enrol at University right after graduating from secondary school.

Entrance exam for University is obligatory. It differs at different faculties (for e.g. when enrolling at Law faculty students take a test in history and Serbian). The entrance exam is 60% of their final score. 40% is based on secondary school grades.

Only a small number of students with the best final score can attend public University free of charge. The state finances this. Others have to pay from 1.000 – 3.000 ˇ per year of studying.

Private Universities charge from 1.000 – 3.000 ˇ per year.

Higher education in Serbia includes university higher education (faculties and art academies) and non-university education (post-secondary schools) where courses last no less than two years and no more than three years.

Universities in Serbia organize art and educational work, as well as other activities, in compliance with the law and its statutes.

When enrolling at a certain Faculty students can choose a course they want study, but not subjects in particular. Each year of studies consists of around 10 different subjects. This means that students take around 40 exams in total of their higher education (even more at e.g. Medical faculty)

The faculty is an educational institution which includes in its basic activities basic studies, specialized studies, magisterial studies and doctoral studies. The basic studies last between four and six academic years. Specialized studies last between one and two academic years and magisterial studies last for two academic years. Doctoral studies last for three years.

Faculties carry out independently or in cooperation with another organization their basic, applied and development research which are in function of educational activity development.

In 2006. Universities in Serbia have official adopted the Bologna declaration.

Disabled students

Historically, children with disabilities in Serbia have been segregated. An alarming number of these children are not included in any form of public education. A recent UNICEF analysis of the overall educational system in ex Yugoslavia shows that only 1% of pre-school children with disabilities are actively included in any form of education.
Schools in Serbia are not accessible for disabled students. Disabled students have to attend special schools.


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School Systems