The network of primary schools in Montenegro comprises 162 public primary schools and 4 private primary schools. There are:
- 75 public schools in the northern region
- 59 public schools in the central region
- 28 public schools in the southern region
Primary education is also provided at two educational centres and three resource centres.
Particular care is taken that education is available for all children, hence 229 regional institutions have been set up within public institutions. Some of these have very few pupils, due to which combined classes need to be formed (two or more grades in the same class).
In 12 primary schools, in municipalities of Bar, Plav, Podgorica, Rožaje, Ulcinj, instruction is carried out in the Albanian language as well.
There are 14 schools in Montenegro that provide primary music education (13 public, 1 private-public), one of which is also a school for primary ballet education, out of which two units are for primary ballet education. They are located in the following municipalities: Bar, Berane, Berane, Bijelo Polje, Budva, Cetinje, Herceg Novi, Kolašin, Kotor, Nikšić, Pljevlja, Podgorica, Tivat, Ulcinj. In order to make art education more accessible to students from all parts of Montenegro, regional institutions of music schools have been established in the City Municipality of Golubovci (Podgorica) and the municipalities of Tuzi, Mojkovac, Plav and Rožaje.
Five private primary schools have been issued licenses for work by the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sports. They are located in two southern municipalities - Tivat and Budva, and in the central municipality of Podgorica.
In accordance with the Rulebook on the criteria, method, conditions and amount of the fee for exercising the right to room and board in dormitory, pupil loan, scholarship and transport allowance, primary school pupils travelling five or more kilometres to school are entitled to transport allowance in suburban traffic in the amount of 40% of ticket price. Pupils whose parents or guardians exercise the right to social security, are entitled to transport allowance amounting to 50% of ticket price. Admission of pupils to dormitories is done on the basis of a call announced by the Ministry of Education.
Admission Requirements and Choice of School
Children are enrolled in school in the calendar year in which they turn six.
Public authority in charge of the matters of civil registration is obliged to provide the local authority responsible for education with the list of children of school starting age from the settlements that belong to the relevant school area. The municipal authority is obliged to submit the list to schools by the end of March of the ongoing year. The municipal authority defines which settlements belong to which school area.
As a rule, school admission of children is carried out each year during the month of April, based on the completed medical examination.
A child’s admission to school may be delayed for one school year if it is found that he/she is not ready to attend school.
A child may be approved early admission, before turning six, at the proposal of parent(s), and after the approval of the admission panel that has been formed by the school.
Schools are obliged to file charges to the relevant inspectorate against the parents of children who have not been enrolled in school, i.e. who do not fulfil their primary school obligation. The charges are filed within 15 days following the expiry of the admission deadline, or the day the pupil has ceased to meet their primary school obligation.
Children with special educational needs are included in mainstream schools, as the first option. The child is referred to the guidance procedure (18 guidance commissions have been formed at the local level) which determines the educational program, and the school is provided with recommendations regarding the organization and manner of working with the child. Individual education and training programmes (IDEP) are developed for each child with special educational needs. An “individual-transition plan” linking primary to secondary education has been developed for the sake of continuity of these children’s education. Children with moderate and severe disabilities are included in special classes at seven mainstream schools where they attend certain subjects alongside their peers in mainstream classes. Children with special educational needs are provided with assistance by teaching assistants. These assistants provide technical assistance in classes for children with severe physical disorders, moderate intellectual disorders, total visual loss, total hearing loss and autism in accordance with the decision on referral.
Age and Grouping of Pupils
Primary education is compulsory for all children between the ages of 6 and 15. It takes nine years and is divided in three cycles. The first cycle is attended by pupils from first to third grade, the second cycle – from fourth to sixth grade, and the third cycle – from seventh to ninth grade. First and second cycle instruction is both class-based and subject-based, whereas in the third cycle it is subject-based.
In accordance with regulations, the number of pupils in a class is between 26 and 28, and following the approval of the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sports, a class may comprise 30 pupils. If there are pupils with special educational needs, the number of pupils in a class may be by 10% lower than the smallest number of pupils a class may have. One class may include maximum two pupils with special educational needs.
In case it is not possible to organize instruction by grades and classes, due to a small number of pupils, a multi-grade (combined) class may be formed. A class combined from two grades may have 5 to 20 pupils, from three grades – 8 to 15 pupils, and from more than three grades – at least 10 pupils. The Ministry provides approval for setting up combined classes with less than five pupils.
The number of pupils in a group for elective subjects is, as a rule, equal to the number of pupils in a class, yet it cannot include less than 20 pupils of one grade.
An institution with one or two classes of a single grade may form two or three groups for elective subjects in that grade. With the approval of the Ministry, the institution may also form groups of pupils from different grades, if the group concerned refers to the elective subject whose studying is unrelated to grade.
Organisation of the School Year
In accordance with the General Law on Education, school year and teaching year, as a rule, start on 1 September. Educational work (teaching year) includes two terms, i.e. four classification periods. The beginning of the teaching year, the time of organizing educational work and classification class periods during the teaching year are defined by the School Calendar which is adopted by the minister in charge of education at the beginning of each school year.
Teaching year takes minimum 180 working days, or in case of pupils of the final (ninth) grade, minimum 165 days. If a number of class periods from certain subjects laid down by educational programme have not been carried out, a teaching year may be prolonged until completing the defined number of class periods, yet not longer than 10 working days.
In accordance with the Labour Law, annual leave of teachers, professional associates and preschool teachers at schools and other educational institutions is used during the summer break and may not take longer that this break.
The law prescribes that educational work at an institution may cease only in justified cases (epidemics, natural disaster and similar). To stop the work of institution in case of epidemics it is necessary to obtain opinion of a competent health institution. A decision to cease the educational work for up to five days is made by the head of institution, and for more than five days by the Ministry, i.e. by the founder in case of a private institution.
Organisation of the School Day and Week
Teaching is organized during a five-day working week. Exceptionally, in the case of making-up for a school day, classes can be organized on Saturdays.
Weekly instruction time of pupils for the compulsory part of education programme is: 19 class periods in the first cycle, up to 24 class periods in the second cycle – with the number of hours increasing from fourth to sixth grade, up to 28 class periods in the third cycle. As a rule, one class period takes 45 minutes. In the course of instruction, there are breaks of either 5 or 15 minutes.
Schools are obliged to arrange during the school year remedial classes for pupils falling behind on their teaching materials. These classes may be organized from the fourth grade. For pupils who master the teaching contents with exceptional success and show particular interest in expanding and deepening knowledge from certain teaching areas, additional instruction is organized.
For pupils (with primary school obligation) who enter schooling for the first time and who have none or insufficient knowledge of the language of instruction, remedial classes are organized according to a special publicly valid programme, over the period of maximum one school year, as special assistance for learning the language and better involvement in teaching.
Schools are obliged to organize before-school care for pupils of the first grade. In accordance with their capacities, schools organize after-school care for first grade pupils, and exceptionally for second grade pupils as well. Within the after-school care, pupils are provided with care during which various sporting, cultural and artistic activities take place, learning, completing homework and other obligations, in accordance with the school rules.