The education system of Montenegro includes preschool education, primary education, secondary general education (gymnasium), vocational education, education of persons with special needs, adult education and higher education.
Preschool education is organised for children up to the age of starting primary school. Children under the age of three stay at nurseries, whereas children between the age of three and up to starting primary school stay at kindergartens.
Provision is carried out as: full-day programme taking 6 to 12 hours, half-day programme taking four to six hours, as well as shorter and specialised programme taking three to four hours. Types of educational programmes include: primary, shorter, specialised and other programmes. Shorter programme determines the content of continuous or occasional activities that can be organised once or several times a week, and it also includes the preparation programme for children that are not covered by the primary programme. Specialised programme determines the form and the content of educational work according to specific areas and spheres of interest. Special programme for preschool education defines the form and the content of educational work for children with disabilities and developmental difficulties.
There are 21 preschool institutions in Montenegro that form a network of 122 educational units, with 626 educational groups organised within them (northern region - 10 preschool institutions with 35 educational units; central region - 5 preschool institutions with 54 educational units; southern region - 6 preschool institutions with 33 educational units). Education for children up to school starting age is also provided at 26 licensed private preschool institutions.
Primary education is compulsory and free of charge for all children between the ages of 6 and 15. A parent must ensure that their child meets the primary school obligation. Primary education takes nine years and is divided into three cycles. It is acquired at primary schools, resource centres and educational centres. The total number of public primary schools in Montenegro is 162, and there are 4 private primary schools that have been licensed as well. A pupil may also acquire primary art education (music, ballet, etc.) simultaneously with primary education.
The educational programme for primary school includes: compulsory part, compulsory activities and extended part. The compulsory part comprises compulsory and elective subjects. Compulsory activities include: class meetings, days of culture, sports and technical activities. The extended part includes: extracurricular activities, additional and remedial classes, outdoor school and pupil excursions.
According to the compulsory part of education programme, pupils receive the following number of instruction periods (lessons) during a working week: 19 periods in the first cycle; maximum 24 periods in the second cycle; maximum 28 periods in the third cycle. In schools where Montenegrin language is studied as non-native language, instruction time is increased by two periods. As a rule, one instruction period takes 45 minutes.
A parent can organise homeschooling for their child. They are obliged to notify about it the school in which the child is enrolled at least two months before the start of education. A homeschooled pupil must acquire the same standard of knowledge defined by the educational programme. School is obliged to arrange the assessment of homeschooled pupils’ knowledge in all subjects of the relevant grade at the end of the term, i.e. at the end of the school year.
Education of children with special educational needs is part of the uniform education system and is provided at preschool institutions, institutions of primary and secondary education and at special institutions - resource centre which are specialised in education of children with special educational needs (there are three of them in Montenegro). This education is compulsory from the moment of identifying the child’s special needs. Education of children with special educational needs is funded from the budget of Montenegro.
Children with special educational needs are educated according to mainstream programmes (possibly with provided additional professional assistance, as well as additional conditions and aids), tailor-made programmes and additional professional assistance, and special education programmes at resource centres.
General secondary education takes four years and its completion provides general access to higher education institutions. It can be acquired in twelve gymnasiums (one of which is private), nine combined secondary schools and one educational centre.
A gymnasium can be established as public or private institution, as general and specialised - mathematical, philological, sports. Teaching is conducted in accordance with the relevant educational programme. The educational programme includes compulsory subjects, compulsory elective subjects and compulsory elective activities. Pupils can have maximum seven instruction periods (lessons) in a day, and up to 32 periods in a week; yet the weekly instruction time cannot exceed 35 periods, including compulsory elective activities.
Vocational education is carried out as two-year lower vocational education, three-year and four-year secondary vocational education and two-year upper vocational education (post-secondary non-tertiary). By completing an art school, a pupil acquires the qualification of four-year secondary vocational education level.
Vocational education provided at vocational schools (which carry out only vocational education programmes of different duration), combined secondary schools (which carry out both programmes of secondary vocational and general education) and educational centres (which, in addition to programmes of general secondary and vocational education, carry out educational programme for primary school). The total number of institutions providing secondary vocational education in Montenegro is 39.
Upon completing four-year vocational education, a pupil takes an external professional exam which allows them to either enter the labour market or continue education. Students who do not wish to continue education take internal professional examination.
Vocational education programme is prepared on the basis of qualification standard that integrates several occupational standards. Educational programmes contain subjects and modules. Module(s) based on occupational standards enable the acquisition of a professional qualification. A pupil can acquire an education level qualification after completing a module, or completing a module and additional or equivalency examination in line with the educational programme, and taking the exam at the end of education.
Higher education in Montenegro is acquired at one public university (University of Montenegro), three private universities, four independent private faculties and one independent public faculty. Educational activity at higher education institutions is achieved through academic and applied study programmes, as well as through various professional development and training programmes. Study programmes can be interdisciplinary, organized from at least two fields.
Higher education is carried out according to the 3+2+3 model. Study programmes that can be implemented at higher education institutions are:
- bachelor, i.e. undergraduate (academic and applied, comprising 180 ECTS)
- master, i.e. postgraduate (academic and applied, comprising 120 ECTS)
- doctoral (academic, comprising 180 ECTS)
- first cycle programmes can be organised as integrated bachelor and master programmes comprising 300, or 360 ECTS. Persons who acquire a degree by completing integrated bachelor and master studies are entitled to apply directly to doctoral studies.
Adult education can refer to acquiring elementary functional literacy - primary school, education for acquiring and improving key skills and key competences, as well as education achieved according to a publicly valid educational programme or part of that programme, on the basis of which a person acquires a certain level of education, or one or several professional qualifications.
Adults can acquire formal education at adult education providers (schools, specialized adult education institutions) through organized education process, according to programmes of primary and secondary education. Adults can acquire qualifications by having their knowledge and skills tested through non-formal and informal education, and self-directed learning. Adults do not pay fees for acquiring primary and lower vocational education.