Aiming toward achieving the fundamental principles in the overall education system, constant efforts are made to, among other things, improve the governance system. This includes ensuring greater participation of all stakeholders in decision-making process, as well as building up partnerships.
The activities of planning, implementation and revision of education policy at all levels of education - from primary, through secondary and up to higher education, is the responsibility of the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sports. For the purpose of education policy implementation and quality assurance, the Government has established the National Council for Education and Council for Qualifications.
Council for Higher Education is a body responsible for the advancement and development of higher education,. It analyzes the situation and achievements in higher education and makes expert proposals to the Ministry and the Government.
Activities related to quality assurance in higher education are conducted by the Agency for Control and Quality Assurance of Higher Education, in line with the European Standards and Guidelines.
The Bureau for the Education Services defines and ensures the quality of education at schools and kindergartens, in addition to performing developmental, advisory and research activities in the field of pre-university education, whereas the Centre for Vocational Education is in charge of development, advisory support and research in the field of vocational education (education of youth and adults).
The Examination Centre carries out external assessment of knowledge, skills and competences.
The Office for Textbooks and Teaching Aids is in charge of the preparation and publication of textbooks and other teaching aids for pre-university education.
Montenegrin system of education comprises:
- preschool education
- primary education
- secondary general education (gymnasium)
- vocational education
- education of persons with special needs
- adult education
- higher education.
Each level of education is regulated by special laws, whereas the General Law on Education refers to the entire education system.
Preschool education includes children until they enter primary school. Children up to the age of three stay at nurseries, whereas children from the age of three until starting primary school stay at kindergartens. Although preschool education is not compulsory, the Strategy for Early and Preschool Education for the period 2016-2020, sets as one of its objectives the increase in the coverage of preschool education for all children, targeting particularly those from the age of 3 and above.
Primary education is compulsory for all children from the age of six to fifteen, and it takes 9 years. It is divided into three cycles.
Secondary general education (gymnasium) takes four years. Upon completing the fourth grade, pupils take external exit exam. The completion of secondary general education provides general access to universities.
Vocational education is carried out as lower vocational education (two years), secondary vocational education (taking 3 and 4 years) and post-secondary non-tertiary education. Pupils who complete vocational education programmes that take four years and who complete external vocational exam have the option to enter the labour market or to continue their education.
Adult education has been promoted with various target groups (drop-outs, qualified or non-qualified unemployed persons required by the labour market, employed persons). Adult education and learning may come in the following forms:
- formal education
- non-formal education or learning
- informal learning
- self-directed learning.
Adult education may refer to the acquisition of elementary functional literacy/primary school education, education for acquiring and improving key skills and key competences, as well as education carried out according to the publicly valid educational programme or part of that programme, based on which the level of education, i.e. one or several professional qualifications are attained.
Educational institutions in Montenegro of all levels of education can be established as public or private. Education is provided by preschool institutions, schools, education centres, resource centres and adult education providers, or as home-based provision. Higher education institutions may also be established as public or private institutions, and may be: university, faculty, art academy and post-secondary non-tertiary school. They perform their activity after completing the licensing procedure and obtaining the license to work.
In accordance with the Law on Higher Education, higher education is carried out according to the 3+2+3 model. The following study programmes are provided at higher education institutions:
- bachelor, comprising 180 ECTS
- master (postgraduate), comprising 120 ECTS
- doctoral, comprising 180 ECTS
Study programmes can be interdisciplinary, organized from at least two fields. Bachelor and postgraduate study programmes can be accredited as academic or applied. Doctoral study programmes can be accredited as academic.
First cycle programmes can be organized as integrated bachelor and master programmes comprising 300, or 360 ECTS. Persons who acquire a degree by completing integrated bachelor and master studies can directly enrol doctoral studies.