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Post-secondary non-tertiary education


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

6.7Post-secondary non-tertiary education

Last update: 12 June 2022
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Adult education is an integral part of lifelong learning. Therefore, it is important to develop and carry out programs of formal and non-formal education and training within adult education system, and to offer other various forms of learning aimed at reaching the two main groups of goals:

  • Acquiring transversal competences – sense of initiative and entrepreneurship, learning how to learn, cultural expression, social engagement (volunteering, ecological, political and similar activism, adoption and application of democratic values and views), parenting skills, creative and art valuation and expression, developing basic economic, financial and media literacy, etc.
  • Adopting knowledge and skills that enable and aim at employability, higher adaptability, i.e. mobility in the labor market.

In comparison with initial formal education, an important distinctive feature of adult education is the stronger and more direct relation with social policies, labor market needs and demands, economic development, demographic trends, etc. The importance of adult education and training is growing due to demographic trends showing the aging of population in Croatia and the EU, as well as to the fact that the existing education structure is not sufficiently adaptable to the labor market and the expected new demands aimed at decreasing unemployment.

The number of people that did not complete primary school in Croatia is significant (62 092 persons aged over 15 according to the 2011 census), as well as that of people who completed only primary education (773 489). In addition, 283 867 people did not complete primary school in full. The biggest share of work competent people, employed or unemployed, relates to those who finished secondary education, mostly vocational (over 1.9 million people). Therefore, in total, there is a large number of people without qualification, with lower qualification or, generally, with a lower education level, i.e. without key lifelong learning competences acquired. This implies that there is a need to adapt the supply of programs for upgrading the competences’ potential and for their continuous adaptation to the changing and ever more demanding needs of the economy and the society.

In order to reach a significantly higher level of participation of adult citizens in education programs, following the Strategy of Education, Science and Technology (Official Gazette No. 124/04) a series of activities and measures will be undertaken in the upcoming period in order to overcome the current structural, situational and psychological obstacles to the access and participation of adult citizens in education programs. The current unsatisfactory level of participation is, aside form the financial reasons, partly due to the current offer of education programs and their quality. In this sense, a special emphasis in the Strategy is placed on improving the quality and relevance of the offer, as well as on stimulating higher education institutions to take a more part in adult education.

Access to high quality adult education programs will be provided and a diverse and wide offer of formal and non-formal education structured and accredited, particularly in the field of training. The regulations should be amended in a way which enables the ministry responsible for education to continue approving the programs, but in accordance with the regulations governing the implementation of Croatian Qualifications Framework (CQF), so as to equalize and potentially standardize the compulsory learning outcomes and assessment conditions for specific qualifications or groups of learning outcomes. A comprehensive system of adult education quality assurance will be established, including the existing CQF mechanisms, as well as additional elements and procedures. All programs that meet the aforementioned adult education quality assurance conditions will be considered as formal programs. Aside form these, there can also be non-formal programs. In accordance with the Act on CQF, the programs can be adopted by adult education institutions according to approved qualifications’ standards, while assuring the harmonization of qualifications titles and program content.

The goals, activities and measures related to adult education in some parts being carried out, and upgraded complementing the realized and planned activities listed in the Strategy for Adult Education (2004) and the respective Action Plan. Based on the analysis of the existing conditions in Croatia and the EU, the Strategy brings four main goals and the respective measures for their implementation:

  • ensure prerequisites for the increase of participation of adult citizens in lifelong learning and education processes,
  • improve and expand learning, education and training through work,
  • establish a system of quality assurance in adult education,
  • improve the organization, financing and management of adult education processes.

Pursuant to the Adult Education Act and the implementation regulations, the institutions which intend to carry out formal adult education should obtain an approval for implementation of the program by the relevant ministry.

Primary education for adults is carried out according to the prescribed Teaching Plan and Program for Adult Education (Official Gazette No. 136/2003). The goal of the teaching plan and program for primary education of adults is to improve their basic literacy and life skills in all areas of education.

Formal adult education is carried out with the aim of acquiring vocational knowledge, skills and abilities, and includes primary, secondary and higher education for adults.

Pursuant to the Act on Adult Education (Official Gazette No. 17/2007), formal adult education can be carried out by open public universities, primary schools, secondary schools, higher education institutions, foreign languages schools, institutions of care for persons with special needs and for the disabled, penal and other institutions, if they meet the criteria listed in the Act. Formal adult education leads to the acquisition of a public document. Adult education institutions carry out programs for acquiring a first qualification, additional qualification, professional training and re-qualification.

Secondary education for adults in Croatia encompasses programs aimed at the acquisition of school or professional qualification, at re-qualification programs, and at training programs. There are numerous examples of longstanding good practice of partnership between employers, Croatian Employment Service and public open universities, who accept the educational needs of the labor market and the modern tendencies in adult education. By using the legal possibility to do so, the education institutions adopt teaching plans and programs for training that take into consideration the prior knowledge and skills of adult students and thus respond to the needs of employers, while the costs are largely covered by the Croatian Employment Service or the employers.

Adult education for trades and crafts is carried out according to programs consisting of general education part and apprenticeship, including the final assistant (apprentice) exam. Apprenticeship consists of two parts: expert-theoretic (occupational theory) and practical. The programs, pedagogical documents, as well as the assistant and master craftsman exams are adopted, according to a given procedure, by: the minister of science, education and sports, Croatian Chamber of Trades and Crafts, and the minister of entrepreneurship and crafts. Upon re-qualification, the candidates’ general education part of education is acknowledged, and they are obliged to pass the assistant exam or the master craftsman exam. The precondition to take the assistant exam is a minimum of one year of practice in the activity into which they seek re-qualification. The precondition to take the master craftsman exam, apart from the general education part of the program, is at least 3 to 5 years’ experience in the craft for which they take the master craftsman exam.



The content and the form of the public documents for adults on the acquisition of secondary school or vocational qualification, re-qualification, (professional) training, the acquisition of a lower qualification and on primary school education is prescribed by the Ordinance on Public Documents in Adult Education.

The basic types of documents are grade completion certificate, final paper certificate, certificate on subject exams, certificates on the completion of (professional) training, certificate on the knowledge of a foreign language, and the certificates on the completion of grades or educational periods in primary education. They are integral parts of the Ordinance on Public Documents in Adult Education.

The aforementioned document contain the following information: name and location (of the head office) of the adult education institution, classification mark and date of document issuing, student’s personal number (from the Register of Students), student name, sex, personal identification number (“OIB”), place and country of birth, citizenship, parent name, title of the adult education program attended, name and signature of the educational group leader/teacher and adult education institution director, place for the stamp of the adult education institution, classification mark and date of the approval for program implementation. The aforementioned public documents also contain special information for each of the documents.