The basic principles of the national education system are set in the Constitution of the Republic of North Macedonia. Articles 44-48 of the Constitution stipulate that:
- All individuals are entitled to education;
- Education is accessible to all under equal terms;
- Primary education is compulsory and free;
- Citizens have the right to establish private educational institutions in all levels of education, except in primary education which is entirely public;
- The autonomy of the universities is guaranteed by the Constitution. The terms for establishing, implementation and termination of the activity of the universities are stipulated in the relevant laws;
- Members of communities have the right to establish institutions for culture, art, science and education, as well as scholarly and other associations for the expression, fostering and development of their identity. Members of communities have the right to instruction in their language in primary and secondary education, as determined by law. In schools where education is carried out in another language, the Macedonian language is also studied.
North Macedonia considers education, training, research and innovations as key factors for strengthening the national economy and for the citizens’ wellbeing. The latest document that presents the fundamental principles of national education system is the Education Strategy for 2018-2025 and Action Plan. The Strategy defines a vision of a comprehensive, inclusive, and integrated education focused on the learner, based on modern programmes for equipping future generations with knowledge, skills and competences in accordance with the needs of the democratic multicultural society and the Labour Market, and the new challenges in the global scientific technological environment.
According to this vision, the Strategy is targeted to the improvement of:
1. Quality of education and its relevance to North Macedonia’s society development priorities (particularly in terms of having productive and engaged citizens) and the needs of the labour markets, guided towards the expected learning outcomes, as well as acceptance of multiculturalism, interethnic integration, respect for diversity and democratic values;
2. Development of generic and core competencies of pupils (and all learners), in order for them to develop into critical thinkers, active and relevant participants in social life;
3. Education system infrastructure, including building facilities, equipment and teaching and supportive technologies in order to ensure appropriate learning environment in general and inclusion of persons with special educational needs in particular;
4. Capacities of human resources including managers, teaching and support staff;
5. Quality and results of the educational process by means of improving the assessment/evaluation at all education levels: pupil, teacher, school and system;
6. Autonomy of institutions in the education, particularly of universities, as well as autonomy of entities in the education process and
7. Legislation, Management and Funding.
The education system is organised around five languages of instruction in primary schools (Macedonian, Albanian, Turkish, Bosnian and Serbian) and three languages of instruction in secondary education (Macedonian, Albanian and Turkish). Around 29% of primary schools and 34% of secondary schools are two/three language schools.