In Croatia, adult education is embedded in the concept of lifelong learning. It is defined like that in the valid 2007 Adult Education Act and in the description of activities of the Ministry of Science and Education. Adult education is conducted as formal, non-formal, informal and self-directed learning.
According to the Adult Education Act (Article 1), the main objectives of adult education are:
- exercising the right to free development of personality,
- training for employability: acquisition of qualifications for the first occupation, retraining, acquisition and deepening of professional knowledge, skills and competences;
- training for active citizenship.
Learners of adult education in Croatia can be persons who are at least 15 years old and are not in full-time education.
Implementation of formal continuous vocational education and training is a priority in most strategic and implementation documents on adult education. The 2014 Strategy for Education, Science and Technology focuses on strengthening vocational competences and training for the labour market. The Croatian Bureau of Statistics defines adult education primarily as continuous formal vocational education or subsequent general education for persons who at the age of full-time education did not receive an adequate education .
Primary education and all forms of secondary adult education are conducted within the adult education system in Croatia. Higher education is not part of the adult education system. Non-formal education and self-directed learning are also not regulated within the adult education system. They are only mentioned in the Adult Education Act.
Adult education is mostly financed by the learners themselves. The programmes are also financed by employers and the state and local self-government. State funding is carried out on the basis of applications for grants or public procurement and they do not represent a stable source of financing. Significant support is provided by grants under the European Social Fund calls for institutional strengthening, development of new programmes and inclusion of marginalised groups. Adult education institutions can be financed by local and regional self-government units that are their founders. Payment of adult education and programme fees is the biggest obstacle to participation in education. According to a survey conducted in 2017 for the Agency for Vocational Education and Training and Adult Education, 30% of respondents consider that the prices are the reason for not participating in adult education.
In Croatia, the participation of adults in education is low. According to Eurostat data from 2/2021, only 3.5% of adults participate in one of the education programmes. The data refer to participation in the past four weeks of persons aged 25 to 64. This is considerably lower than the EU average. According to a survey conducted by the Agency for Vocational Education and Training and Adult Education, 30% of adults participated in education over the past year. According to Eurostat data, mostly highly educated people participate. 7.5% of highly educated people participated in some form of adult education over the past 4 weeks. People with no primary education participate the least, although they need education the most. Only 0.5% of persons with no primary education participate in adult education.
In relation to these problems, priorities of policies addressing adult education are defined.
- Adult Education Act (OG 17/07, 107/07, 24/10); https://www.zakon.hr/z/384/Zakon-o-obrazovanju-odraslih
- Ministry of Science and Education. Adult education. https://mzo.gov.hr/istaknute-teme/odgoj-i-obrazovanje/obrazovanje-odraslih/131
- Strategy for Education, Science and Technology (2014); https://mzo.gov.hr/UserDocsImages/dokumenti/Obrazovanje/Strategija%20obrazovanja,%20znanosti%20i%20tehnologije.pdf
- Statistical Yearbook of the Republic of Croatia for 2018 https://www.dzs.hr/Hrv_Eng/ljetopis/2018/sljh2018.pdf
- Adult Education in Croatia in 2017 Survey Results. https://epale.ec.europa.eu/sites/default/files/asoo_istrazivanje.pdf
- Eurostat: Education and training / Participation in education and training https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/web/education-and-training/data/database