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EACEA National Policies Platform


6. Education and Training

6.1 General context

Last update: 24 February 2023
On this page: 
  1. Main trends in young people’s participation in education and training
  2. Organisation of the education and training system
  3. Main concepts


Main trends in young people’s participation in education and training

According to Eurostat data, in 2020 the percentage of young people (aged 15-29), classified by completed levels of education, was 25.8% for ISCED 0-2, 57.0% for ISCED 3-4, and 17.2% for the ISCED 5-8.  Some research findings show that school is a relevant factor of reproduction and social inequality in education at all levels (Spajić-Vrkaš and Potočnik, 2017). Another study finds long-term continuity in social inequalities in access to higher education in Croatia: “Students from better educated family backgrounds tend to be overrepresented in higher education and students form better educated and white-collar family backgrounds are more likely to enrol in academic as opposed to professional study courses” (Doolan, Puzić and Baranović, 2017, p.1).

Eurostat statistic shows that in 2020 2.2% of young people were early leavers from education and training among young people (aged 18-24), which is the lowest percentage in the EU. Although the rate is low, it is concerning that the main reason for the most of young people who left education was poor material family conditions (Spajić-Vrkaš and Potočnik, 2017).

Erasmus+ is the biggest EU programme for mobility and transnational cooperation in the fields of education, training, youth, and sport from 2014 to 2021. Erasmus+ budget for Croatia (Erasmus+ Hrvatska) for 2019 was 25.5 million Euros and the budget for 2020 for Croatia (Proračun za Republiku Hrvatsku za Erasmus+) is 32 milions Euros. Budget for 2021 was over 28 million Euros and for 2022 is over 36 million Euros. At the same time, according to the research, more than a half of students with international mobility experience had a support from their parents and only 25% had a support from European funds (Spajić-Vrkaš and Potočnik, 2017).

During ten-year period, the number of young people who are able to communicate in English has doubled as well as the number of young people who use computer for study and practice. In the same period, the number of young people who use computer for communication, internet research, and music listening has tripled. Communication in foreign language and digital competence among Croatian youth are at the same level as in EU countries (Spajić-Vrkaš and Potočnik, 2017).

The Eurostat data for 2019 also shows low levels of young people participating in non-formal education and training (during the four weeks before the survey), only 2.3%, the data shows a decrease from 2016, when the percentage was 2.7%.


Organisation of the education and training system

Children start their compulsory education at age 6. It lasts for eight years and encompasses elementary school and lower secondary education. It is compulsory for all children with residence in Croatia regardless of their nationality.

Upper secondary education Secondary school is non-compulsory. Children can choose from vocational schools, art schools, or gymnasiums. Vocational schools can offer 3-year vocational programmes or 4 - 5 years vocational programmes, while gymnasiums offer generalist programmes. Finishing a generalist gymnasium programme, the students have to take a state matriculation examination. Vocational schools’ education lasts from one to five years, depending on the educational programme in question. Finishing an educational programme lasting three, four or five years, the students achieve middle vocational qualifications while finishing a programme lasting up to two years grants them lower vocational qualifications.

Primary and secondary education is carried out according to the provisions of Primary and Secondary School Education Act (Zakon o odgoju i obrazovanju u osnovnoj i srednjoj školi, NN 87/08, 86/09, 92/10, 105/10, 90/11, 5/12, 16/12, 86/12, 126/12, 94/13, 152/14, 07/17, 68/18, 98/19, 64/20). Higher education is carried out by institutions of tertiary education. Those are universities, polytechnics, and schools of professional higher education. Universities can encompass other tertiary institutions (faculties and art academies). Universities conduct university and professional studies while polytechnics and schools of professional higher education conduct only professional studies. Higher education is regulated by the Scientific Activity and Higher Education Act (Zakon o znanstvenoj djelatnosti i visokom obrazovanju, NN 123/03, 198/03, 105/04, 174/04, 02/07, 46/07, 45/09, 63/11, 94/13, 139/13, 101/14, 60/15, 131/17), Professional and Academic Titles Act, (Zakon o akademskim i stručnim nazivima i akademskom stupnju, NN 107/07, 118/12), Quality Assurance in Science and Higher Education Act (Zakon o osiguravanju kvalitete u znanosti i visokom obrazovanju, NN 45/09), and Recognition of Foreign Educational Qualifications Act (Zakon o priznavanju inozemnih obrazovnih kvalifikacija, NN 158/03, 198/03, 138/06, 45/11).

For more details about the Croatian education and training system please visit Eurydice.


Main concepts

Main concepts linked with education and learning are formal, non-formal, informal, and lifelong learning, which are defined in The Croatian Qualifications Framework Act (Zakon o Hrvatskom kvalifikacijskom okviru, NN 22/13, 41/16, 64/18, 47/20, 20/21) and in the Adult Education Act (Zakon o obrazovanju odraslih, NN 114/21). Besides those concepts, the Adult Education Act also recognises self-directed learning. The concepts are in line with the internationally accepted one.