In Croatia, early childhood education and care is carried out in kindergartens for children from 6 months of age until they start primary school. Attendance is optional. This level of education and care is achieved through programmes of care, education, health care, nutrition and social welfare. The Ministry of Science and Education regulates kindergarten work.
The preschool programme is compulsory for all children one year prior to primary school. The programme is designed to cover between 250 and 550 hours annually and generally lasts from October of the current year to June of the following year. In exceptional circumstances, the preschool programme can be organised to include fewer hours annually. The preschool programme is free of charge for all parents whose children are enrolled in the programme one year before they start primary school.
Primary education is compulsory and free of charge for all children between the ages of 6 and 15, or until the age of 21 for students with disabilities. It starts with enrolment in the first grade of primary school. The primary school lasts eight years and runs regular and special programmes. Primary education gives the student the knowledge and skills to continue his/her education at the secondary level.
Specific programmes relate to the education of children with disabilities, alternative curricula and programmes in the language and script of national minorities.
Children can be simultaneously educated in the arts. Basic art education includes music and dance.
Secondary education in the Republic of Croatia enables everyone, under the same conditions and according to his or her abilities, upon completion of primary education, to acquire the knowledge and ability to work and continue education. Secondary education in Croatia is not compulsory.
Depending on the type of education programme, secondary schools can be grammar schools, vocational schools and art schools.
Grammar schools are four-year general education schools that students graduate from by completing the state graduation exam. Students acquire competences (knowledge and skills) in general knowledge that prepare them for the admission to higher education. There are five grammar school education programmes: general education grammar school, language grammar school, classical grammar school, natural sciences and mathematics grammar school and natural sciences grammar school.
Education in vocational schools lasts from one to five years, and the duration depends on the type of education programme, i.e. the vocational curriculum for a particular profession or a qualification. After graduating from a vocational school, it is possible to enter the labour market or, subject to certain conditions, continue education at secondary or higher education institutions. Vocational education provides knowledge, skills and competences required in the labour market with the aim of recognising qualifications that provide opportunities for advancement in further education.
Secondary art education is provided according to the art curriculum and it lasts four years. Through secondary art education, students acquire knowledge and skills to work and continue their education. Art education programmes are run by art, music and dance schools. Students who complete the art education curriculum at the secondary school level for a minimum of four years may also take the state graduation exam.
Higher education in the Republic of Croatia belongs to the European Higher Education Area.
All study programmes are in line with the Bologna Process principles from 2005, thus introducing three education levels, transfer of ECTS credits and Diploma Supplement.
Higher education is provided at universities and their constituents (faculties, academies, departments), polytechnics and colleges through university and professional study programmes.
The university studies educate students in the fields of science, art and higher education, in the business world, the public sector and society in general, and train them to develop and apply scientific, artistic and professional achievements. It covers undergraduate, graduate, integrated undergraduate and graduate, and postgraduate university study programmes.
Professional study programmes enable students to be directly involved in the work process. These programmes are conducted at a college or a polytechnic, and can exceptionally be conducted at a university. Vocational education includes short professional study programmes, undergraduate and specialist graduate professional study programmes.
Adult education encompasses the acquisition of qualifications for the first occupation, retraining, acquisition and deepening of professional knowledge, skills and competences, and training for active citizenship.
Adult education can take the form of formal, non-formal, informal and/or self-directed learning.
The programmes are adapted according to the age, previous education, knowledge, skills and abilities of adults. Programmes may be full-time or conducted in several modes such as consultative-instructional, correspondence-consultative, open-source, via internet, distance-learning, multimedia, and other appropriate ways.
The Ministry of Science and Education is responsible for the process of approving the implementation of adult education programmes to institutions wishing to provide such programmes.