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Teaching and learning in vocational upper secondary education


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

6.5Teaching and learning in vocational upper secondary education

Last update: 27 November 2023

Curriculum, subjects, number of hours

Vocational education is provided based on the national vocational education curriculum, sectoral curricula, vocational curricula and the curriculum of the VET institution.

In accordance with Article 26 of the Primary and Secondary School Education Act (OG 87/08, 86/09, 92/10, 105/10, 90/11, 5/12, 16/12, 86/12, 94/13, 136/14 - RUSRH, 152/14, 7/17, 68/18 and 98/19) the National Curriculum is passed by the minister responsible for education.

In its chapter Early Childhood Education and Care, Primary and Secondary Education, the Strategy for Education, Science and Technology (OG No. 124/2014) defines eight developmental areas and a key strategic goal for each one of them. The key strategic goal of the second developmental area is the implementation of a comprehensive curricular reform including the creation of such curricular documents as, for example, the key one – the National Curriculum Framework, as well as the National Curriculum for Grammar School Education, which will be followed by the creation and adoption of subject curricula according to the types of education programmes and years.

National curricula are adopted for individual levels and types of education in accordance with the National Curriculum Framework, which defines at the general level the elements of the curricular system for all levels and types of primary and secondary education. The national curricula and the National Curriculum Framework are adopted by the minister responsible for education.

The Minister for Education issued the National Curriculum for Vocational Education in July 2018 (OG 62/18).

The National Curriculum for Vocational Education determines the percentage of general education and vocational part of the curriculum that make up the qualifications of a certain level in accordance with the needs of economic and personal growth and development, taking into account the possibilities of horizontal and vertical progression in the system. As a rule, the general education part covers mathematical, linguistic and digital literacy. Furthermore, the document defines how the contents of learning and teaching in vocational education are shaped in accordance with the learning outcomes of specific sectoral curricula, vocational curricula, national area curricula and cross-curricular topics. Based on certain proportions of general education, vocational and sectoral part of the vocational curriculum, appropriate learning and teaching contents are created.

The National Curriculum for Vocational Education has defined the ratios between the general education and vocational part of vocational curricula for acquiring the qualifications at levels 2 to 5 of the CROQF.

The vocational curriculum is adopted by the Minister upon the proposal of the agency responsible for vocational education. The methodology for designing the vocational curriculum is determined by the agency responsible for vocational education.

With the vocational curriculum, students acquire key and vocational competences and define rules and ways of combining sets of learning outcomes with the aim of acquiring the qualification. Learning outcomes are grouped into compulsory and optional modules of a specific scope, and for each module teaching units, a learning environment, and ways of monitoring the acquisition of learning outcomes and assessment of learning outcomes are specified. The vocational curriculum may also establish a list of required teacher qualifications for curriculum implementation.

With the vocational curriculum, students acquire at least 70% of the credits of the mandatory outcomes and a maximum of 30% of the credits of the optional learning outcomes of the total scope of the qualification. This gives schools more space to profile the school and adapt to the needs of the local economy and to adapt the curriculum faster.

"School for life" is the name of an experimental programme run by the ministry responsible for education. In the experimental programme during the 2018/19 school year 48 primary and 26 secondary schools from all counties in the Republic of Croatia participated. In vocational schools, the programme was implemented in the first grade of four-year vocational schools in general subjects (Croatian, Mathematics, English and German).

Within the framework of the project "School for Life", run by the ministry responsible for education, and after the experimental implementation in the school year 2018/19, new subject curricula for a part of general education subjects for vocational schools and acquiring qualification at level 4.2 were developed and adopted in 2019 for:

  • English
  • Mathematics
  • Croatian
  • German

Also, curricula were adopted for the following seven cross-curricular subjects:

  • Citizenship education
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Sustainable development
  • Personal and social development
  • Learning how to learn
  • Use of information and communication technology
  • Health

The school year for a certain level of qualification, where teaching is mostly carried out in the form of exercises and practical training, lasts a maximum of 40 weeks. The acquisition of knowledge, skills and competences is implemented by practical training and exercises. The total number of periods and material conditions for the implementation of practical training and exercises are defined by the curriculum.

The rights and obligations of the vocational education institution, students and employer (in privileged crafts’ education programmes) carrying out the practical training and exercises are set by the apprenticeship agreement.

If the practical training and exercises continuously take 4 or more hours daily, the vocational school students must be enabled to have at least thirty-minute break every day. Vocational education institution and the employer must ensure at least 45 work days of holidays for students during the school year. Likewise, a student may not on the same day attend vocational school and practical training and exercises with the employer. Exceptionally, in justified cases, at the request of the school, and with the prior opinion of the agency responsible for vocational education, the ministry responsible for education may also approve a different organisation of teaching. Also, full-time minor students are offered practical training and exercises between 6 am and 10 pm which may not exceed eight hours per day. In the implementation of practical training and exercises, the prescribed occupational safety and security measures are ensured in accordance with special regulations, as well as the appropriate application of special regulations governing jobs that may not be performed by a minor.


Teaching methods and materials

For more general information on this topic, see section 6.2 on teaching and learning in grammar schools.

The teacher is provided with autonomy in the choice of forms and methods of teaching, and partial autonomy in the choice of content, in the realisation of the vocational curriculum for acquiring the qualification. Autonomy is associated with the responsibility to achieve learning outcomes and acquire competencies.

In the learning and teaching process, teachers autonomously select a part of the teaching content and methods and forms of work that enable students/learners to acquire learning outcomes, i.e. generic and vocational competences for the qualification of a particular profile, scope and level. Likewise, the emphasis should also be on the development of basic knowledge and skills such as linguistic and mathematical literacy.

There is no official recommendation regarding homework for secondary school students.