Post-secondary non-tertiary education is carried out as adult education.
Adult education in Croatia is intended for students who are at least 14 years old and who are not in full-time education, or who have not attended or have left the regular education.
Primary and secondary education, as well as all forms of non-formal and informal education, are conducted within adult education. It is carried out by adult education institutions and other bodies registered for carrying out adult education programmes.
In comparison to regular formal education, adult education is more flexible and in more direct relation with economic demands and fast-growing changes on the labour market.
With the entry into force of the Adult Education Act in 2021 adult education system has been fully aligned with the regulations governing pre-tertiary education in Croatia ensuring standardised quality and recognition of qualifications gained through adult education.
The concept of lifelong learning is woven into the foundations of adult education which makes it the main promoter of the idea of professional mobility through a wide range of education programmes aimed at adults who want to train for new skills, improve in a profession or retrain new professions.
In addition to aligning with regular education, a new legislative framework for adult education introduced possibilities for acquiring micro-credentials (micro-qualifications) and better framework for recognition of previous learning (evaluation programs) which opens many possibilities of horizontal and vertical mobility through the system.
The Act regulates the formal education of adults, which is carried out in institutions that have a registered activity of adult education in accordance with the provisions of the act regulating the establishment and organisation of institutions (Act on Institutions).
Adult education can be performed by an institution established exclusively for the purpose of providing adult education, a school, a university, as well as an institution that performs other activities in addition to adult education. Adult education institution has a principal, andragogical manager, an administrative council.
The composition, method of appointing members, the duration of the mandate of the members of the administrative council, as well as the method of decision-making, are determined by the founding act and the institution's statute. The institution can start the implementation of the education programme after the decision on the start of work or the implementation of the programme is brought by the Ministry of Education and Science.
The institution carries out the activity of adult education based on the framework annual plan and programme of the institution's work. Adult education institutions are financed by their own budgets or local governments, and only certain programs (programs for acquiring micro-credentials for digital and green skills) are financed from the state budget.
There are two national agencies with competences in the field of adult education:
- Education and Teacher Training Agency (ETTA) performs professional and advisory work in education, participates in the monitoring and development of the fields of early childhood education and care, primary, lower secondary and upper secondary education and adult education.
- Agency for Vocational Education and Training and Adult Education (AVETAE) is responsible for the planning, development, organisation, implementation, monitoring and improvement of the VET and adult education system. The main tasks of the Agency are developing qualifications based on competences and learning outcomes, aligning education with labour market needs, building a VET system which includes lifelong learning and mobility, providing continuous professional development for VET teachers and developing and overseeing quality assurance frameworks for education sectors under its competence.
For the implementation of the programme of basic adult education and training for simpler jobs in the professions the funds are provided in the state budget of the Republic of Croatia.
Financial resources for the implementation of other adult education programmes can be provided in the state budget, budgets of local and regional self-government units, from employers or directly from adults and applicants, and from other sources (EU funds).
Funding from the state budget must be transparent and in accordance with the Act on Adult Education, with the provisions of the act governing the budget and fiscal responsibility system, and in accordance with special regulations governing the scope and work of the bodies that allocated such funds.
Financing of adult education programmes funded by the state is under supervision of the Ministry of Science and Education. Financing of adult education institutions is generally monitored by its founders (local and regional self-government units) or, in case of founders who are legal or natural persons financing is monitored by the founders as prescribed by memorandum and articles of institutions.
The funds for financing and stimulating adult education are provided from the state budget, local and regional government units’ budgets, directly from the learners and employers, and from other sources, in accordance with the law. From the state budget, funds are allocated for:
- costs of the elementary adult education program implementation;
- costs of the upper secondary adult education programme implementation for adults who have completed only primary and lower secondary education or other education programmes;
- costs of monitoring, improvement, and development of adult education.
From the budget of local and regional government units, the funds can be provided for:
- investments and investment maintenance in the adult education institutions established by these authorities
- material operational costs for the purpose of adult education activities in the institutions established by these authorities
- programe implementation costs.
Financial incentives for adult education institutions from the state budget and the budget of local and regional authorities can be allocated for: procurement of teaching and other materials and the development and implementation of innovative programmes.
The funds from the state budget and the budgets of local and regional authorities are allocated to adult education institutions through public calls.
Administrative monitoring and inspection over adult education institutions are carried out by the ministry in charge of education. The inspection of the operation of the adult education institutions is carried out by the Agency.
In accordance with the legal obligation to develop a methodology from Article 12of the Adult Education Act and the funding of formal education programmes through vouchers according to the Croatia's National Recovery and Resilience Plan 2021-2026, the Agency for Vocational Education and Adult Education has developed a Methodology for adult education programs for the acquisition of micro-qualifications, partial qualifications and complete qualifications financed through vouchers and other sources of financing. In addition, the Agency and the adult institutions have developed 150 programmes for attainment of micro-credentials.
In accordance with the Adult Education Act the procedure for implementation of validation of previous learning will be defined by the ordinance (by-law) which is currently being drafted. In parallel with the adoption of the by-law, validation methodology is being developed, based on which the programmes for validation of previous learning will be developed. Programs will be developed in accordance with qualifications standards and sets of learning outcomes. Based on validation of previous learning a public certificate will be issued.
Currently, the OECD and the European Commission in cooperation with the Ministry of Science and Education and the Agency for Vocational Education and Training and Adult Education are implementing the project “Establishing a validation system of prior non formal and informal learning in Croatia”. The project started in July 2022 and will continue until the end of 2023. It is divided into three phases. The first phase is focused on cooperation with key Croatian stakeholders and review of European practices and information on existing validation and recognition practices in Croatia, along with their limitations. Stakeholders are various providers of formal and informal adult education programs.
The second phase of the project is devoted to the development of recommendations, and includes a contribution to the by-law and methodology for recognising prior learning. The final phase is focused on implementation and will include the creation of practical guidelines for the new adult education validation system.
Financial Support for Adult Learners
With the entry into force of the Adult Education Act in December 2021, the system of adult education has been fully harmonised with the Act on the Croatian Qualifications Framework and the methodology of creating the adult education programs is based on the regulations governing the Croatian qualification framework.
New legislative framework of adult education has introduced several novelties: formal programmes for acquiring micro-credentials (micro-qualifications in Croatia) and recognition of prior non-formal and informal learning.
An additional incentive for the development and implementation of micro-qualifications is provided through opportunities of financing programmes for acquiring competences needed on the labour market through structural and investment funds and mechanisms for recovery and resilience, with a special emphasis on the development of green and digital skills.
In CVET, adult learners usually cover the expenses of the education programmes they attend. The exception are primary education programmes, which are free of charge for adults and financed by the Ministry of Science and Education. The public employment service, as a part of Active Labour Market Policy (ALMP), covers for the education expenses of the unemployed, and some adult education programmes have recently been financed through different ESF-funded projects.
Biggest change is a newly established voucher system that was foreseen in Croatia’s National Recovery and Resilience Plan 2021-2026, and it aims to support lifelong learning and the acquisition of new skills, in particular green and digital skills. This is a model of financing lifelong learning for employed and unemployed persons with the aim of acquiring skills needed for the labour market. Voucher is a financial instrument for the allocation of public funds for adult learning and its value is 39 million EUR. The voucher system has 4 goals:
- increase the share of adult in lifelong learning
- increase the competences of employees
- ensure a high-quality workforce
- support transition from unemployment to employment.
Target value of the voucher system is that by the end of the 2nd quarter 2026, a total of 30,000 vouchers have been used, of which at least 12,000 by long-term unemployed, inactive or young people in NEET status.
Implementation measures (active labour market measures) within the competence of the Croatian Employment Service, include subsidies for employment, self-employment support, support for training, financing the education of unemployed persons, employment in public works and other measures.
Adult education institutions can be established by: the Republic of Croatia, a local or regional government unit, other legal and natural persons. The Institution Act applies to adult education institutions.
Adult education institutions must comply with the provisions of the Ordinance on the standards, norms, methods and procedures for compliance assurance in adult education institutions, which prescribes standards and norms as well as the methods and procedures for ensuring the legal compliance of the institutions which provide programmes for adult education.
The Ordinance prescribes minimum technical and hygiene requirements for the premises in which adult education programmes are conducted; minimum requirements regarding the facilities; staff and material requirements in the provision of adult education programmes; standards for adult education programme provision; the methods and procedures for compliance assurance in the provision of adult education programmes.
In order to conduct activities related to primary and secondary adult education, music schools and similar schools operating independently of the regular school system, public film projections, journalism and publishing, radio and TV broadcasting and activities related to training, professional development and retraining of youth and adults outside of the regular education system, local authorities as well and natural and legal persons can establish public institutions for permanent education and culture called open universities.
Public institutions for permanent education – open universities – perform their activities in the form of public services. A special regulation applies to open universities which govern the provision of certain activities described in Article 1, Paragraph 1 of this Act and in the Institution Act. Learners participating in the primary or secondary adult education or in the training, professional development, or retraining programmes, obtain certificates issued by open universities in the form and including the content which is prescribed by the minister competent for education.