Institutional image of the education sector in Bosnia and Herzegovina is a reflection of the state, and it is defined by the BiH Constitution, the constitutions of the entities, cantons, and the Statute of Brčko District of BiH, which govern legal competencies in the field of education. The Republic of Srpska, ten cantons or counties in the Federation of BiH and the Brčko District of BiH Government bear full and undivided responsibility for education.
Only thirteen Ministries of Education and the Department of Education of the Brčko District of BiH have sole competence in education.
Bosnia and Herzegovina education system is organized into four main levels: preschool, primary, secondary and higher education. Educational institutions are mainly public and private.
Preschool education is an integral part of the educational system in BiH and in the year prior to enrollment in primary school it is compulsory for all children of preschool age.
Primary education lasts nine years and is compulsory for all children. It starts in the calendar year in which, until 1 April, the child has reached six years of age.
Secondary education is accessible to all, in line with their performance in primary school, personal interests and abilities.
Access to higher education is granted to all those who have completed four years of secondary school in Bosnia and Herzegovina. According to official statistics there are 10 public and 34 private higher education institutions in BiH.
The education in Bosnia and Herzegovina is largely financed by public funds of the entity, cantonal, Brčko District and the municipal budgets, depending on the jurisdiction. This means that, in terms of location, Bosnia and Herzegovina has thirteen separate budgets for education: two at entity level, one in Brčko District of Bosnia and Herzegovina and ten cantonal budgets.
According to the Law on Ministries and Other Bodies of Administration of BiH, Ministry of Civil Affairs is responsible for carrying out activities and tasks within the jurisdiction of BiH related to defining basic principles of coordination of activities, harmonization of plans of entity bodies and defining strategy at the international level, among others, in the field of education.
According to the Law on Ministries of the Republic of Srpska, RS Ministry of Education and Culture performs administrative and other professional tasks in the field of education, which refer to: preschool, primary and secondary education; education of the children of citizens of the Republic of Srpska working abroad; validation of foreign school certificates; pupils’ standard; preparing programme of educational cooperation with other countries and international organisations and international agreements in the field of education in accordance with the Constitution of the Republic of Srpska and the Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Ministry of Scientific and Technological Development, Higher Education and Information Society performs administrative and other professional tasks in the field of higher education; students’ standard; preparing programmes of educational cooperation with the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, other countries and international organisations and international agreements in the field of higher education in accordance with the Constitution of the Republic of Srpska and the Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
According to the Law on Federal Ministries and other bodies of the Federal Administration, Federal Ministry of Education and Science performs administrative, professional and other tasks related to the planning and coordination of activities in the following areas: preschool, primary, secondary and higher education, educational standards and spatial norms, equipment and teaching aids for preschool, primary, secondary and higher education, validation and equivalence of foreign school certificates and diplomas, professional education and training of teachers, textbooks for primary and secondary education, the implementation of the Bologna process, scientific research on improving educational work, pupils' and students' standard, the development of scientific research, coordination of scientific, research and development activities, the development of scientific and research organisations, encouraging fundamental applied research, development of investment technologies and human resources in scientific research, monitoring of innovation, development and advancing technologies, coordinating in exercising the rights of young people in education and science and other tasks stipulated by law. Cantonal or county Ministries of Education perform administrative and professional tasks stipulated by the Constitution, law and other regulations that relate to the competencies of cantons or counties in the area of education and science.
Department of Education in the Brcko District of BiH performs professional, administrative and other duties within the competence of the Government, relating to the enforcement of laws and regulations of the competent authorities and institutions of BiH and the District in the area of education, under the supervision and direction of the mayor, the financial, technical and personnel support to the District educational institutions, adoption of curricula in accordance with the standards of a modern, democratic and multi-ethnic society, cooperation between parents and teaching staff, conducting training programmes in the District, other duties under the responsibilities of this department in accordance with the laws and regulations of BiH and the Brcko District of BiH Assembly or ordered by the mayor.
In Bosnia and Herzegovina, home-based education is not organized at any level of education.