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EACEA National Policies Platform
Republic of North Macedonia

Republic of North Macedonia

6. Education and Training

6.1 General context

Last update: 28 November 2023
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  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

The Republic of North Macedonia is a country with a high level of young people who are NEET (not in education, employment or training). According to the data from the Eurostat in 2021, 27,6% young people (aged 15-29) from North Macedonia were not part of the education system nor employed neither in training. This is the second lowest rate in the last 10 years in North Macedonia, but it’s the third highest in Europe next to Turkey and Serbia.

According to the Research on Youth Trends in Macedonia from 2014 (Младински трендови во Република Македонија) conducted for the needs of the Agency of Youth and Sport, the key findings of the young people’s attitude towards education and educational system are:

  • Young people in the research agree that the education is the most important thing in life;
  • Majority of young people (45%) have positive attitude towards the education. The most positive attitude has young people aged 15 – 19 years, then follows the age group 25 – 29 and the last is age group 20 – 24;
  • Majority of the respondents in the research (41%) think that the education system is good but needs solid reforms;
  • The high schools’ students agree with the statement that what they learn in high school will be very useful further in their life;
  • Majority of high school students (39.6%) have extremely positive perception about the secondary education, and almost 32% have positive attitude;
  • In the secondary education chapter of the research, the respondents provide highest average grade of 3.3 for the teachers, and lowest average grade for the discipline (measurement scale from 1- 5 where 1 is the lowest). The textbooks and lectures are evaluated with average grade of 3;
  • The most often selected reason for entering tertiary education are getting diploma and increase of the intellectual capacity;
  • The majority of the students (40%) have extremely positive attitude towards the tertiary education;
  • Almost all aspects of the tertiary education are assessed with grade 8 and 7, the grades 9 and 10 are provided for the safety on the faculties and the Bologna system implemented in the Republic of Macedonia. The grades 5 and 6 are provided for the books and freedom of speech of the students (measurement scale from 5 – 10 where 5 is the lowest), and
  • The most common reason for termination of education after secondary school is the limited finances.

In 2020 the Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of North Macedonia presented а Concept for developing a distance education system in primary and secondary schools in the Republic of North Macedonia (Концепт за развивање на далечинско образование во основните и средните училишта) and as part of the concept the Ministry of Education and Science set aside few key challenges:

  • Lack of strategic and normative documents on which distance learning can be based and which will provide a standardized approach in its implementation
  • Insufficient theoretical and practical pedagogical knowledge for distance learning of all involved in the educational process (teachers, professional associates, principals, advisors, inspectors)
  • Insufficient digital competition with most stakeholders in the distance education process (students, teachers, parents, associates, principals, counselors, inspectors)
  • Poor ICT equipment (lack or inadequate digital devices, insufficient or no internet access) of schools, teachers and students' families.

Organisation of the education and training system

With the amendments of the Law on Secondary Education (Закон за средното образование), from 2008, for the first time in the Macedonian society the secondary education becomes compulsory for every citizen. That amendment also means an extension of the age the compulsory education ends, from 14 years of age previously, to 18 years of age with the amendment. That provision is relevant for general secondary education, while for vocational education and training (VET) it is 16, 17 or 18 years of age.

The percentage of students enrolled in a vocational programme is one of the highest among countries and economies participating in PISA. (58.7 %, rank 6/77, 2018). The education system of the Republic of North Macedonia consists of preschool, elementary education (6-14 years), secondary education (15-17/18 years) and higher education.

The main organization of formal education for the youth covers the following stages:

  • Secondary education (ISCED 3): general secondary education (Gymnasium) and art education in duration of four years and vocational education (Vocational Schools) in duration of three (vocational education for professions) or four years (vocational technical education).

In 2020 because of the Covid-19 crisis there are added technical amendments that the teaching could be provided online through specific channels.

The Law on Vocational Education and Training (Закон за стручно образование и обука) envisages vocational training intended for working with lower requirements which provides practical knowledge and skills for different fields of work. Vocational training depending on the complexity of the occupation lasts up to two years. Vocational training can be completed by students who have finished primary education, as well as those who do not have completed primary education, but with the obligation, along with the vocational training, to complete the primary education.

The secondary education is compulsory and comprises all children in the age cohort 15 to 18 years for the general secondary education, and for the age cohort 15 to 16, 17 or 18 in the VET depending on the selected track. The tasks and activities of the secondary education are defined and regulated with the Law on Secondary Education and the Law for Vocational Education and Training. The secondary education is free of charge in the public secondary schools. There are three teaching languages, Macedonian, Albanian and Turkish. The pupils also have the legal option to enroll into the private secondary schools which are officially recognized by the Macedonian educational system;

  • Higher education (ISCED 5, 6 and 7): implements under-graduate, master and doctoral studies in the higher educational institutions and institutes which are autonomous and independent. The activities are defined and regulated by the Law on the Higher Education that includes provisions on harmonizing the state’s higher education with the Bologna process and European Credit Transfer System (EKTS), as well as ensuring legal basis for expanding teaching personnel and student’s mobility. In accordance to the national policy for provision of equal access to the higher education, social cohesion and lifelong learning, the state introduced the Project 35/45, which promotes enrollment of the students from the age cohort 35 to 45 years;

Adult education is part of the education system of Republic of North Macedonia that enables education, specialization, qualification and learning of adults. A student of adult education can be any person that participates in the educational adult programs and has previously fulfilled the conditions regarding prior compulsory education and other persons that bind without a student status.  Adult education encompasses formal, non-formal and informal education. The activities of the adult education are regulated with the Law on Adult Education (Закон за образование на возрасните) and Law for Vocational Education and Training (Закон за стручно образование и обука).

Main concepts

Main concepts regarding education are described in appropriate chapters.