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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Organisational Variations and Alternative Structures


6.Upper secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary Education

6.8Organisational Variations and Alternative Structures

Last update: 27 November 2023

Alternative secondary school programmes 

In grammar and vocational schools there are sports programme class departments. Students who are actively engaged in sports and have exceptional results can enrol into sports programme class departments in grammar and vocational schools. Apart from the Sports Grammar School in Zagreb, students can enrol into sports class departments in other secondary schools. The work and classes in these institutions are adapted to the special needs of athletes.

According to the Ordinance on the Elements and Criteria for the Selection of Candidates for Enrolment into 1st Grade of Secondary School the young athletes who are on the ranking lists of a specific national sports association have the right to apply for enrolment into sports class departments. The national sports associations carry out the ranking of the applied candidates based on the sports success criteria. Sports success criteria are determined autonomously for each sport by the appropriate national sports association/federation and are published on their websites and submitted to the Central State Office for Sport. The final ranking list of the candidates is determined by the accumulation of points resulting from the sports success criteria, and the common, additional and special valuation elements.

In secondary schools, part of the curricula and contents determined by the teaching plans and programmes or curriculum, except in the Croatian language, may be taught in one of the world languages, in accordance with the Ordinance on the teaching of part of the subjects and contents determined in the curriculum in one of the world languages in secondary school (OG 116/16).

International programmes

  • International Baccalaureate (IB) programme is a general education programme which encompasses entire secondary education during four years: (1) Middle Years Programme (IBMYP) - carried out in 1st and 2nd grade, and (2) Diploma Programme (IBDP) - carried out in 3rd and 4th grade. Classes in the international programme are taught in English. The enrolment in these programmes each school regulates for itself. Tuition is paid.

  • German International School in Zagreb - Deutsche Internationale Schule in Zagreb, holds classes according to the programme of the Federal Republic of Germany and the Central Office for Education Abroad (ZfA) in German, namely the primary school (Grundschule) programme (grades I to IV) and secondary grammar school (Gymnasium) programme (grades V to XII).

  • The British International School in collaboration with the Cambridge International Examinations, in which classes are taught in English, according to the British National Curriculum.

  • American International School of Zagreb - The American International School of Zagreb was founded based on the Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Croatia and the Government of the United States of America. The school provides education in the English language to children aged three to 18 according to an accredited International Baccalaureate Organisation programme.

In addition to public schools, there are 16 religious schools in the secondary education system, as well as 18 private accredited schools, all following grammar school programmes, with classes carried out in accordance with the national curriculum and teaching plans and programmes for secondary schools established by the relevant ministry.

Following approval by the relevant ministry, the school can organise education at home for students with motoric difficulties or with chronic diseases who cannot attend regular classes in schools, or in a health institution if the student is hospitalized for a prolonged period of time. Such classes can be carried out as distance learning (virtual classes), by means of electronic communication. Within funds at its disposal, a school provides these students with adequate tools for the implementation of distance learning.


Special education programmes in vocational schools

An experimental implementation of the Croatian dual education model is currently being implemented in the Croatian VET system.

As part of the vocational education reform, in accordance with the Government's Mandate Programme 2016-2020, the Ministry of Science and Education implements the experimental programme “Dual Education”, which was developed in accordance with the Croatian dual education model.

The purpose of this model of education is to enable young people to comprehensively acquire the necessary skills to perform their jobs effectively, innovatively, independently and in collaboration with others, while also meeting the needs of the world of work and a thriving economy by creating a young, skilled workforce.

This form of vocational education combines learning in vocational school and business or workplace and emphasizes the development of high-quality relevant skills and qualifications for the job market, and foster innovation and entrepreneurship.

The experimental implementation of dual education began in the 2018/19 school year for 4 qualifications (salesman, beautician, chimney sweeper and glassmaker) in areas where businesses have expressed an interest in participating in this form of education, who are ready to take on the obligation of student education and who can provide students with a sufficient number of trainee places in the world of work. Since the school year 2019/20, two more qualifications are added (hairdresser and painter decorator).

Dual education enables the acquisition of qualifications at levels 4.1 to 4.2 of the Croatian Qualifications Framework. The vocational curricula for the acquisition of qualifications according to the dual education model are implemented within the framework of the 4th and 5th educational cycle in accordance with the National Curriculum for Vocational Education.

Qualifications at these levels form the general education and vocational part of the curriculum, which consists of a vocational and elective module and work-based learning in percentage terms relative to the total number of annual hours.

The contents of the general education part of the vocational curriculum are focused on the overall development of the student as a person and a responsible member of society and relate to vocational competences for a particular qualification, as well as for further education and lifelong learning. The general education part is linked to the vocational part, i.e. the contents are interconnected and upgraded in order to achieve the competences required for a particular qualification.

The vocational part of the vocational curriculum focuses on the acquisition of competences for a particular qualification. Within the vocational part of the curriculum, work-based learning enables the acquisition of specific knowledge and skills necessary for independent, safe and responsible work and for solving real work process problems in a particular profession. The elective module of the vocational curriculum enables students to specialize in the qualification and is offered by the VET institution according to its specificities and to the needs of the local and regional economy and the world of work. In this way, the education system can respond more quickly to the changing demands of the world of work.