Organisation and governance
The Croatian education system is a mainly centralised system governed at all levels of education by the Ministry of Science and Education and national agencies. The Ministry of Science and Education (MSE) is the competent ministry for the field of education and it performs administrative and other tasks related to the education system in Croatia.
However, there are some decentralised functions, primarily in early childhood education and care (ECEC) and primary and secondary education. These decentralised functions are described in respective chapters.
In the ECEC sector, primary, lower secondary and upper secondary education MSE performs tasks related to the development of the system, national curriculum, norms and standards, student standard, inspection control, establishing and supervising the work of institutions and ensuring financial and material conditions for work and training of students to acquire technical knowledge and skills.
In the area of higher education, MSE performs tasks related to the development of higher education, implementation of national strategies and programmes. MSE also provides for and monitors financial and material conditions for the work of HEIs, prepares and proposes reports on the work and evaluation of HEIs and study programmes, student standard, monitors the education process and success of studies, manages the implementation of the Croatian Qualifications Framework, manages the registers of HEIs and study programmes, as well as the databases on higher education and administrative supervision of HEIs.
National agencies with competences concerning implementing education policy, monitoring, evaluation, system development and programme development are the Education and Teacher Training Agency (ETTA), Agency for Vocational Education and Training and Adult Education (AVETAE), Agency for Science and Higher Education (ASHE), Agency for Mobility and EU Programmes (AMEUP), National Centre for External Evaluation of Education (NCEEE) and the Croatian Academic and Research Network (CARNET).
Education and Teacher Training Agency (ETTA) performs professional and advisory work in education, it participates in the monitoring, improvement and development of the fields of ECEC, primary, lower secondary and upper secondary education and adult education among other tasks.
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.
Agency for Science and Higher Education (ASHE) is an agency responsible for quality assurance in higher education and science. ASHE conducts a part of the procedures regarding HEIs initial accreditation, reaccreditation, thematic assessment and external independent periodic assessment of internal quality assurance and improvement of the systems, among other activities related to development of science and higher education.
Agency for Mobility and EU Programmes (AMEUP) performs professional and advisory tasks in the field of education and training, youth, science and sports. The Agency implements or supports beneficiaries in participation in EU programmes in the above fields (Erasmus+, European Solidarity Corps, Horizon Europe) as well as in other related international programmes, networks.
National Centre for External Evaluation of Education (NCEEE) conducts external evaluation of the education system and conducts standardised exams. The external evaluation activities comprise student achievements and quality of educational institutions. Other activities of NCEE encompass research work, participation in international studies and projects (OECD’s PISA and TALIS programmes, programmes by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IAEA)), and provision of training in the field of external evaluation.
Croatian Academic and Research Network (CARNET) was originally established to support and innovate the higher education and research system in the field of ICT. Over the years CARNET’s competences have been expanded to include support in digitalisation and related training to the school system. CARNET’s main activities are the development, construction and maintenance of the ICT infrastructure in the field of education and provision of support services and trainings to its institutional and individual users.
The National Council for Science, Higher Education and Technological Development is the highest expert body that takes care of the development and quality of higher education in Croatia. Some of its main tasks regarding higher education are proposing measures to improve higher education, criteria and ratios for the distribution of budget funds, and proposing the network of public higher education institutions among other tasks.
There are differences in some areas of decision making related to different levels of education. Early childhood education and care (ISCED 0) is financed and managed by local authorities. However, the Ministry of Science and Education defines and develops policy and legislative framework, approves ECEC programmes, accredits ECEC institutions and have various monitoring functions.
Primary, lower secondary and upper secondary education (ISCED 1-3) is managed centrally. However, local and regional authorities are responsible for (co-)financing. They also have the authority of establishing a school and are the main founders of ECEC and school institutions.
Higher education (ISCED 6-8) is mostly provided by public HEIs which are state financed. The organisational autonomy and academic freedom are guaranteed by the Constitution.
Legislative acts, including those regulating education system, are proposed by the Government of the Republic of Croatia and adopted by the Croatian Parliament as the holder of legislative power Government of the Republic of Croatia. One of the working bodies in the Croatian Parliament is the Education, Science and Culture Committee. Its main responsibilities are establishing and monitoring the implementation of policies. In procedures to enact legislation and other regulations it has the rights and duties of a competent working body. Other central level regulations are issued by the education minister in accordance with relevant acts.
Sources and reference documents:
- State Administration Bodies Organisation and Scope Act
- Act on Education and Teacher Training Agency
- Agency for Vocational Education and Training and Adult Education Act
- Act on Quality Assurance in Higher Education and Science
- Agency for Mobility and European Union Programmes Act
- Act on National Centre for External Evaluation of Education
- Ordinance on the Croatian Academic and Research Network – CARNET
- Primary and Secondary School Education Act
- The Act on Higher Education and Scientific Activity
- Preschool Education Act
- Croatian Parliament (2023). Education, Science and Culture Committee – Scope of Work