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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Main types of provision

Bosnia and Herzegovina

8.Adult education and training

8.4Main types of provision

Last update: 27 November 2023

The principles and standards of adult education in Bosnia and Herzegovina defined the general and specific goals of adult education, such as achieving universal basic education and adult literacy, enabling professional development, education for active citizenship and enabling recognition of previous learning.

In the Strategic Platform for the Development of Adult Education in the Context of Lifelong Learning in Bosnia and Herzegovina, for the period 2014-2020, which can be considered a kind of evaluation of this policy, it is stated that "adult education in BiH is normatively positioned mainly within the framework of the formal school system, which the availability of education, as well as the diversity of the educational offer for adults, is quite limited". A new approach to adult education, based on common European principles and goals and own values and experience in Bosnia and Herzegovina, did not exist until 2009. Later, projects and programs began to be implemented, which were, to the greatest extent, financed by international organizations and institutions, as well as entity competent authorities. Since this strategic platform has expired, it is necessary to adopt a new one that would be a prerequisite for sustainable planning of adult education.

In addition to the formal and informal education of adults, it is also necessary to highlight the informal learning of adults that takes place in everyday situations and in different learning contexts such as: family, work environment, free time, experience, etc. There is no reliable data on this type of learning because it has not been conducted no research in BiH on this plan. Apart from the Examination Center within the Institute for Adult Education of the Republika Srpska, which is authorized to organize the verification of knowledge, skills and competences regardless of the way they were acquired (including informally), there is no specific data on other similar institutions.

Adult education is offered through various institutional solutions: compensatory education and retraining in primary and secondary schools, training for the unemployed and additional educational programs in higher education institutions, and informal education and learning in various types of non-governmental organizations and private actors.

According to the Adult Education Survey, only 9% of the adult population in BiH participated in some form of adult education in 2017.

Provision to raise achievement in basic skills

The term "basic skills" is not used in the acts of Bosnia and Herzegovina. If it is connected to adult primary education programs, it is about adult education programs in selected primary schools as well as private educational institutions according to curricula and programs precisely determined by adult education laws and regulations.

The curriculum is a summary of the curriculum for school children, and it is organized differently depending on the administrative units. The adult basic education program is organized in the form of regular classes, distance learning, practical exercises and consultative classes. The program focuses on basic literacy, neglecting ICT development.

Education programs for the acquisition and improvement of key skills and competencies are also implemented through informal adult education. In addition to these programs, they refer to: programs for acquiring additional competencies in the profession; environmental and working environment protection programs; education programs on health and improving the quality of life; education programs for the third age; education programs aimed at meeting the specific educational and cultural needs of special social groups; programs for acquiring other knowledge, skills and abilities.

Since the organizer of the non-formal education program may or may not be approved by the competent Ministry of Education (which makes the difference between accredited and non-accredited organizers of adult education), their number is constantly increasing. These programs are often organized in cooperation with employment agencies and, according to adult education laws, are free for unemployed people.

Provision to achieve a recognised qualification during adulthood certification

Formal adult education programs include adult elementary education and secondary education (training, specialization, retraining, additional programs for basic occupations). In most aspects (curriculum, teaching methods, certificate) it is similar to regular elementary and high school education with certain adjustments for adults in scope and duration.

Secondary vocational education and training of adults is carried out in regular secondary schools, private schools and centers for adult education. The programs follow the Standard Occupational Classification and are the most common form of adult education. These are retraining or qualification programs in accordance with the needs of the labor market. Secondary education programs for adults last one year less than the program for full-time students.

The reform of secondary professional education with the introduction of modular curricula began in BiH in 1998. By 2016, modular NPP were developed and implemented for 119 occupations, which is a prerequisite for faster adaptation to the conditions of the market economy.

In Bosnia and Herzegovina, adults are involved in various types of education voluntarily and by their own choice

In Bosnia and Herzegovina adults are included in various forms of education, training and learning on voluntary bases and by their own choice.

Formal education programs include:

a)      programs for the acquisition of basic education;

b)     programs for acquiring secondary education;

c)      additional training programs;

d)     retraining programs;

e)      advancement programs and

f)      qualification programs.

The number and types of adult education programs are directed towards the needs of communities and individuals, in the context of labor market and employment opportunities, as well as the specific needs of regional or local environment where the program is running. The number and types of adult education programs are also focused on the needs of employers for certain profile of occupations, the needs of employers and employees for training or education because of the introduction of new technologies or work processes, the needs of adults to gain new and improvement of existing knowledge, skills and abilities in order to provide themselves better employment opportunities, maintain employability or start their own entrepreneurial activity.

In 2011, the Council of Ministers adopted the Fundamentals of the Qualification Framework in BiH, which sought to connect the results of formal, non-formal and informal learning. The evaluation of the results of various learning activities and the establishment of a recognition system for prior learning continued through the Action Plan for the Development and Implementation of the Qualification Framework in BiH. In practice, this plan was only partially implemented because all qualifications are not based on jointly defined learning outcomes. Developing a non-formal education evaluation system is primarily encouraged by the EU, and higher education institutions have put this issue on their agenda.

Provision targeting the transition to the labour market

Education of adults in Bosnia and Herzegovina takes place in the context of social transition, which is carried out on two key fields and to the democratization of civil society and the transition from a planned to a modern market economy. These processes progress slowly and can be monitored in several social areas.

It is clear that adults in Bosnia and Herzegovina represent large, but still insufficiently recognized and activated potential. Poor focus of various sectoral policies and negligible investment in the development of adults through their appropriate education during the whole life, indicate a serious lack of understanding of the importance and role of this segment of society in transition, of the Bosnia and Herzegovina  society in general.

The program of economic reforms for BiH (2021-2023) believes that it is possible to reduce the gap between education and the labor market through training, education and professional development programs for adults, which would ultimately mean an increase in the activity rate. As an active employment measure, employment institutes and services finance various trainings as a form of informal education for registered unemployed persons. By definition, the Employment Service is responsible for implementing professional orientation, training and retraining programs.

According to the Plan on labor market policy guidelines and active employment measures in Bosnia and Herzegovina for the year 2022, the training, retraining and retraining program is at the top of the agenda of active employment policies implemented by the Federal Employment Service and county employment services, the Employment Service of the Republic of Srpska and the for employment in the Brčko District of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Employment agencies can offer retraining programs in cooperation with vocational education and training schools.

Provision of liberal (Popular) adult education

Recently experience of Non-formal adult education in Bosnia and Herzegovina is growing. A large number of different institutions and organizations in the public, private and NGO sector offers various programs of informal education.

Programs of informal education include a variety of programs focused on the acquisition and improvement of general and professional knowledge, skills and abilities that are strengthening adults for labor market opportunities, facilitate their social integration and contribute to their own development and "self-realization". These programs, among others, include:

a) programs of acquisition or improvement of key competences;

b) programs of acquiring additional competencies in the profession;

c) programs of environmental and labor protection;

d) educational programs on health and improving the quality of life;

e) educational programs of the Third Age;

f) training programs in order to satisfy specific educational and cultural needs of specific social groups and

g) programs of acquisition of other knowledge, skills and abilities.

The cost of all forms of non-formal education are mainly carried out by participants and other interested parties.

In addition to the informal adult education it is necessary to highlight and informal adult learning that takes place in everyday situations and in different learning contexts such as family community, workplace, leisure, experience and so on. There are no reliable data on this form of learning because there were not conducted any researches in Bosnia and Herzegovina in this area. In addition to the Examination Center under the Institute of Adult Education of the Republic of Srpska who is authorized to organize the verification of knowledge, skills and competencies, regardless of the manner of their acquisition (including informal), there are no specific data on other similar institutions.

Other types of publicly subsidised provision for adult learners

Education programs: retraining, additional education, improvement and training of adults as a regular activity or one that follows the regular, deal besides public and private educational institutions and other specialized institutions such as workers' universities, centers for vocational education and training, auto- school, foreign language schools, schools for computers employment agencies, professional associations, non-governmental organizations, correctional institutions, religious institutions, trade unions and others. These programs can be subsidized by the relevant institutions.