This chapter provides a thematic and chronological overview of national reforms and policy developments since 2020.
The introduction of the chapter describes the overall education strategy and the key objectives across the whole education system. It also looks at how the education reform process is organised and who are the main actors in the decision-making process.
The section on ongoing reforms and policy developments groups reforms in the following broad thematic areas that largely correspond to education levels:
- Early childhood education and care
- School education
- VET and adult learning
- Higher education
- Transversal skills and employability
Inside each thematic area, reforms are organised chronologically. The most recent reforms are described first.
1. Overall national education strategy and key objectives
The vision of the Montenegrin education system is to develop Montenegro as a society of knowledge, where education, as the key factor of economic and social development will be of high-quality, flexible, efficient, with the professional human resources who will have competitive knowledge, skills and competences and who will be qualified to take part in the labor market, where each individual has equal opportunities for personal and professional development.
As per levels of education, the objectives are as follow:
Preschool education Bearing in mind that in Montenegro there is still room for improvement of preschool education, the strategic goal is to: Ensuring equal chances for the early development of all children in Montenegro by strengthening the availability, quality and fairness of preschool education.
In order to achieve the strategic goal set by the Strategy of Early and Preschool Education 2021-2025, it is necessary to fulfill three general operational goals, namely:
General operational objective 1: Increasing the coverage of children in preschool education
General operational objective 2: Improving and ensuring the quality of preschool education
General operational objective 3: Improving the chances for early development of children from vulnerable groups
With reference to the objective, preschool enrollment has risen to 72%, an increase of 20 percentage points over the past five years. New preschool institutions have been opened, while work is being done to build new preschool institutions, through partnership with CEB and Public Services. Support to RE children has been provided through training and monitoring. Works have been done in order to expand and maintain interactive services - new points have been established. The so-called Centers of excellence of regional character have been established, which are bearers of new ideas and examples of good practice, where many come for consultations. Capacity for practical work are being strengthened by hiring additional educators. The Bureau for Educational Services prepared a new Program for the group up to the age of 6, which is expected to be adopted by the National Council.
The plans for the following period are to: increase the capacity of preschool institutions, implement the new Work Program with accompanying training, Empower parents and support vulnerable groups.
The Strategic goals set for primary education are the following:
1) provide the opportunity for the overall development of an individual, regardless of gender, age, disability, social and cultural origin, national and religious affiliation, and physical and psychological constitution;
2) satisfy the needs, interests, desires and ambitions of the individual for lifelong learning;
3) enable the achievement of an internationally comparable level of knowledge, skills and competences;
4) develops awareness, need and ability to preserve and improve human rights, rule of law, natural and social environment, multiethics and diversity;
5) develops awareness of the statehood of Montenegro and its culture, tradition and history;
6) enable the individual, in accordance with his own capabilities, to include and participate at all levels of work and activity;
7) develop awareness of national affiliation, culture, history and tradition;
8) contribute to the achievement of the strategic goals of Montenegro.
The abovementioned has been realized through the following activities: free textbooks provided; formation of school support teams - organization, work, input and updating of data in MEIS; prevention of violence, workshops organized for: recognition, response, responsibility, reporting - Protocol, Portal - cyber part; work with RE students (increase in number, services, transportation); response to Covid-19: online classes, #UciDoma Program, research on needs, organization of summaries, supplementary classes; strengthening inclusive education (individualization, assistance, active technology, connection with community services, etc.); inclusion of children from Ukraine (academic and developmental-psychological support); adopted Digitization Strategy, introduced #digionica - educational content is set in a format for digital use.
The plans for the following period are to: develop a comprehensive and multi-year educational strategy; curriculum should be revised to respond to the needs of the 21st century, focused on key competencies; increase investments in school infrastructure, accessibility (architectural and IT) and equipment; strong and individualized focus should be placed on the empowerment of girls and boys and adolescents from vulnerable groups; quality improvement; implementation of the Strategy for Digitization of Education (2022–2025).
Secondary general and VET education
The strategic priority for secondary education based on the Strategy of Vocational Education (2020-2024) is Quality and inclusive education (high school, professional and adult education) that enables lifelong learning and is the basis for building a knowledge-based society.
In the field of high school education, the strategic goal is to improve the quality and efficiency of general secondary education, which enables the development of students as creative, innovative, versatile individuals, ready to continue their education, active citizenship, social inclusion and lifelong learning.
In the field of vocational education, the strategic goal is for vocational education to be relevant for the labor market, but also to enable students to continue their education, lifelong learning and mobility, to be accessible to different target groups, flexible, to enable active citizenship, social inclusion and lifelong learning.
In the field of adult education, the strategic goal is to enable adults (unemployed, employed, those at risk of job loss due to rapid changes in the labor market) to acquire the necessary knowledge, skills and competences for employability, mobility on the labor market, competitiveness, lifelong learning.
The upcoming activities with regard to the set goals would be: Improvement of laws and by-laws and completion of strategic documents; Evaluation of the educational program of the general high school and the program of the specialist departments in order to improve the teaching plans and the implementation of the teaching; Improvement of the concept of optional subjects and their connection with graduation and enrollment in studies; Support for teachers in improving key competencies, including digital competencies and availability of professional development; Improving the quality of professional education through the further development of external and internal evaluation mechanisms; Support the Center for Vocational Education in the development of qualifications and programs that meet the requirements of the labor market, the green economy and the digital age; Improving the quality of practical education through strengthening the partnership between schools and employers; Follow-up of students after completing secondary education; Improving the work of career guidance services; Improving the enrollment policy through strengthening the cooperation of schools with the local community and employers; Supporting lifelong learning through improving the educational offer of training programs for professional qualifications and key skills; Support for adult education organizers and employers in the licensing process to make the program available to different target groups in all regions; Recognition of non-formal and informal learning, above all for deficient qualifications and promotion of lifelong learning through planning campaigns to promote the validation of non-formal and informal learning among unemployed persons, organizing training for deficient qualifications for persons who need additional training, training of examiners in the recognition or verification process previously acquired knowledge and the acquisition of a national professional qualification; Improving the quality of career guidance and counseling services; Supporting schools to become regional centers of excellence for youth, adult and teacher training; Supporting student and teacher mobility and involvement in regional and EU-level initiatives; Support for equipping schools, including IT equipment
The following are the aims for VET education:
1. Strengthening of quality assurance in VET with focus on WBL in all its forms would be done through: Improvement of mechanisms for conducting external evaluation in IVET and CVET, including competences of external evaluators; Strengthening capacities of VET providers for conducting self-evaluation; Review of the current models of practical training followed by recommendations on how to improve the situation; Designing quality indicators for practical training in all forms; Conducting self-evaluation and external evaluation of practical training using the designed quality indicators.
2. Flexibility of Qualifications system (IVET, CVET, green skills, sustainable development, etc.) would be done by: Designing the missing qualifications for IVET and CVET, designing qualifications on the principle of learning units; Creating conditions for recognition of non-formal and informal learning, supporting adult education and LLL; Making all VET programmes green, both through designing green qualifications and adding green elements to the existing curricula; Strengthening key competences development in VET students.
3. Enhancing Flexibility of Qualifications system would be achieved by: Collecting LMI in a more effective way (Establishment of VET graduate tracking system (administrative data and online surveys) in order to get the data on VET outcomes); Strengthening Career Guidance and Counselling in VET schools by using high-quality LMI; Conducting skills forecasts in the most attractive sectors (ICT, health tourism, food production, renewable energy) or in all sectors action of VET provision with labor market needs.
4. Digitalization of VET - digital school would be achieved by: Provision of necessary equipment and other technical conditions in VET schools - digital learning environment; Training VET teachers on how to use ICT in their teaching; Creating digital contents for teaching and learning.
The goal of higher education in Montenegro, as part of the European area of higher education, is to be recognizable and referential based on: alignment of educational policy with the needs of the labor market and low unemployment rate after graduation; competitive personnel who possess the necessary knowledge, skills and competence; the established system and integration of institutions that are based on the principles of quality culture and efficient management, with respect for the institution's autonomy and an efficient system for quality assurance; study programs whose curricula provide learning outcomes adapted to modern competencies for all cycles, for the labor market and continuing education; implemented quality standards of education, research and artistic creativity, especially the principles of academic ethics, which provide reference and innovative personnel; established models of stable international cooperation and mobility that contribute to the reputation of institutions, better quality of higher education, research and artistic creativity, improving the competence of teachers and students; organization of study programs that are open and available to foreign students as an important element of the reputation of institutions and the entire system.
The challenges that await us for future development in the field of higher education are to: Improve the practical teaching model, which should provide all students with adequate practical teaching and preparation for the labor market; adequately define the criteria and conditions for enrollment in higher education institutions; develop the offer of lifelong learning, while monitoring the quality of program implementation, including ensuring the conditions for recognition of non-formal and informal education; constantly improve elements in the area of student standards; affirm internationalization and alignment with EU recommendations and guidelines that were adopted in the process of implementing the Bologna Declaration, as well as other declarations to which Montenegro is a signatory.
2. Overview of the education reform process and drivers
The ongoing national reforms and policy developments since 2020 mostly refer to the implementation of the laws in education and strategic documents which were adopted or amended in the previous couple of years.
The Parliament of Montenegro, on its session held on July 10, 2017 adopted a set of 8 education laws that reform the education system, with the aim of making knowledge accessible to all, to provide a better response to the labor market through practical education, providing additional support for talents, strengthening of quality assurance systems and better functioning of institutions, as well controlling the running of educational institutions and increasing the quality of teaching and education in general. The focus was on students in order to provide them the opportunity to develop knowledge, skills and competences that will enable them to compete in the job market. Through the implementation of the adopted solutions and the proposed reforms, the education system will be improved and become more recognizable in the European education area. From the school/study year 2017/18, measures have been taken that lead to the realization of the stated goals, some in continuity and some have already been realized.
The aim was to reform the entire package of measures for all levels of education, as it was estimated that only in such a way those measures could deliver the expected results. From 2017 to 2022 most of the goals set in the amendments to the laws were and continue to be implemented, while others are a matter of a longer implementation process.
As per levels of education we have:
- Increased the coverage of children aged 3 to 6 years in pre-school institutions;
- Introduced English language in preschool institutions;
- Adapted and increased the number of spatial capacities;
- Reduced the number of children in classrooms, from 30 to 28;
- Reduced amount of curricula content;
- Improved the position of Teaching Assistants for Children with special educational needs;
- Established the Fund for Quality and Talents;
- Increased number of students and employers in dual education in vocational schools;
- Additional incentives introduced for employers who engage in three-year systems and dual education;
- Scholarships for students enrolled in deficient occupation programs;
- In higher education a reform model of studies was introduced (3+2+3);
- Free bachelor and master studies;
- Law on Academic Integrity was adopted;
- Higher Education Quality Assurance Agency was established;
- Compulsory practice introduced in all faculties, in the amount of 25% per study program, i.e. year;
- New model of financing of HE institutions introduced.
Despite the fact that the Ministry of Education is the key policy maker in the field of education, other national education institutions are also the drivers in creation and implementation of sectoral policies and strategies. These institutions are the Bureau for Educational Services, Center for Vocational Education, Examination Centre and Textbooks and Teaching Aids Department, as well as all other educational institutions. Besides these, other relevant stakeholders taking part in the process are social partners such as Chamber of Commerce, Trade Unions, Montenegrin Employers Federation, whose role is very important in matching labor market and employment needs. NGO sector is also one of the involved parties - all working groups established for the purpose of the design of education relevant laws must include NGO representatives.