5. PRIMARY EDUCATION (OR INTEGRATED PRIMARY AND LOWER SECONDARY EDUCATION)
The primary education in Republic of North Macedonia is organized as integrated primary and lower secondary education in a nine-year primary schools. The transfer into nine-year primary education has been introduced in the educational system in 2007. Primary education is compulsory for all children aged six to fifteen years. This education is guaranteed as free and with equal access to all students on school age. Free textbooks are provided to all students and free transportation is guaranteed to those who reside over 2 km. of the school they attend. Primary schools can be state and municipal. Municipalities establish primary schools on their territory to accept all children on school age. The government of the Republic of North Macedonia is responsible to establish primary schools with resource centers to provide primary education for children that are of special interest of the government, for example: students with special educational needs, or international primary school. The state is also responsible for provision of primary education for adults regulated by the Law on education of adults.
Legislation and legal basis
In accordance with the provisions stipulated in the Constitution of the Republic of North Macedonia (Articles 44-48) the primary education in the country is accessible to everyone under equal conditions and is compulsory and free. Private primary schools are not recognized by the educational authorities (Article 45).
The establishment, organisation and management of the primary education is regulated with the Law on Primary Education (2019) and supported with the Concept Note on Primary Education (2021) and National Standards for Students Achievements (2021).
The Law on primary education in the GENERAL PROVISIONS defines: the basic principles, protection from discrimination, affirmative measures, goals in primary education, compulsoriness and periods of education, languages of instruction, inclusive education, education of children of Macedonian residents that leave abroad, education of children without residence and with foreign residency, education of out of school children, children with chronic diseases, education in hospitals, education in detention institutions, schools with resource centers, Centers for support of special needs children, types of support for children with special needs etc., followed by different chapters: ESTABLISHMENT AND TERMINATION OF WORK (public interest activity, language and alphabet of the name of the school, types of primary schools, acts for establishment of primary schools statute, registry, termination of work and conditions, etc.); PROGRAMMES AND EDUCATIONAL WORK (teaching plan and programme, regular and additional classes, after school activities, excursions and out of school activities, school sport clubs, competitions, advancement of multiculturalism/interculturalism and interethnic integration, professional orientation of students, health and social protection of students, school planning); TEACHING (school year, teaching hour, organization of teaching, departments and classes, etc.); ENROLLMENT (student status, time and school age, enrollment commission, delay for teaching period, regionalization of schools, unenrolled students and unjustifiably absent students); RIGHTS AND OBLIGATIONS OF STUDENTS (protection of student’s integrity, prevention of violence, right and obligation to attend teaching and education, students ‘organizing and participation, release from some activities, absence, continuation of the obligation for primary education, pedagogical measures, right to free transportation, school meals, diplomas, praises and rewards, parental counseling); EMPLOYEES (teaching staff, administrative staff, technical staff, year plan for employment, conditions for employment, security and health of the employees, rights when the employment is terminated); PEDAGOGICAL DOCUMENTATION, EVIDENCE AND DATA COLLECTIONS (types of collections, goals for collecting data, types of data, content of data, data officer, obligations and data protection etc.); GOVERNING BODIES, GOVERNANCE AND PROFESSIONAL BODIES OF THE PRIMARY SCHOOL (school board, governing bodies, professional competences of school principal, election of school principal, dismissal of school principal, professional bodies in primary school and their work, etc.); SECURING AND ASSESING QUALITY OF THE EDUCATIONAL WORK (self-evaluation, monitoring and evaluation of the work of teachers, external evaluation of students ‘achievements, state assessment, international testing, integral evaluation, etc.); ASSESSMENT OF STUDЕNTS’ ACHIEVMENTS AND PROGRESS (internal assessment, grades and students’ assessment, assessments of special education needs students, reporting to parents/guardians, repair exams, class examination tests, acceleration of students, etc.); RECOGNITION AND EQUIVALENCE OF DIPLOMAS ACQUIRED ABROAD (requests for recognition, procedure, documentation, etc.); FINANCING OF PRIMARY EDUCATION (finances from State budget, other sources of finances, financial plan and annual financial plan of the schools, etc.); SUPERVISION (inspection, extraordinary integral evaluation, supervision from the Ministry, seizure of competences, etc.); PENALTY PROVISIONS.
The other laws relevant for the implementation of the primary education are the following: Law on Bureau for Development of Education, Law on Pedagogical Service, Law on Pupils Standard, Law for Textbooks in Primary and Secondary Education, Law on Adult Education, Law on Educational Inspectorate, Law on National Examination Centre, Law on Teachers and Professional Staff in Primary and Secondary Schools and Law on National Qualifications Framework.
Basic school objectives
The goals of primary education as stipulated in Article 7 in the Law on Primary education are:
- providing full inclusion in the educational process and responding to the diverse needs of all students by providing meaningful participation to all students in it,
- providing a systematic approach to foster the cognitive, socio-emotional and psychomotor development of the student in accordance with their developmental characteristics, potentials and affinities,
- achieving national standards for primary school students in the following areas: language literacy, learning other languages, mathematics, natural sciences and technology, digital literacy, personal and social development, democratic culture and citizenship, entrepreneurship and financial literacy as well as artistic expression, culture and multiculturalism,
- developing the student's self-confidence and awareness of their own individuality, and responsibility for their actions,
- upbringing for respect of diversity, cooperation, respect for diversity, basic human freedoms and rights,
- developing students' literacy and abilities to understand, inform and express in Macedonian language and its Cyrillic alphabet,
- developing students' literacy and abilities to understand, inform and express, in addition to Macedonian language and its Cyrillic alphabet and in other languages for the members of communities that speak a language and alphabet different from Macedonian,
- developing awareness among students of belonging to the Republic of North Macedonia and nurturing national, civic, ethnic and cultural identity,
- preparing the student for responsible life in a free, civil and democratic society,
- developing abilities and skills for research, experimentation and problem solving,
- acquiring general and applicable knowledge and skills needed in everyday life or further education,
- training for further education and lifelong learning,
- supporting talented and gifted students in different fields and
- promoting a healthy lifestyle and developing responsibility for one's own health and protection of the environment.
Outcomes for specific subjects and knowledge standards are laid down in the subject curricula, so as the curriculum and the annual teaching plans for all grades of the primary education which are developed by the Bureau for Development of Education, and adopted by the Minister for Education and Science.
Support measures for learners from Ukraine in school education
In the month of May, 2022, officially there are no refugees from Ukraine. Unofficially, the estimated number of refugees from Ukraine in the Republic of North Macedonia is 1,000, 25% of them (or around 250) being estimated as the number of school-age children and young people.
In general as tourists, foreigners are allowed to stay in the country for only three months, and if they want longer, they usually apply for a temporary residence permit for humanitarian reasons under the Law on Foreigners, which allows them to stay here for one year. However, with such a document, they do not acquire the right to assistance from the state.
According to Article 13 of the Law on Primary Education (Official Gazette no.161/19 and 229/20), "children with foreign citizenship or stateless children, refugee children, asylum seekers, children with recognized refugee status, children under subsidiary protection and children under temporary protection residing in the Republic of North Macedonia have the right to primary education under equal conditions as children citizens of the Republic of North Macedonia". For these children, "the study of the Macedonian language and its Cyrillic alphabet shall be organized, and support for the compensation of knowledge from certain subjects lasting at least one year based on programs should be prepared by the Bureau and approved by the Minister. The Law on Primary Education (Article 152) also regulates the so-called conditional enrollment in the school in the case of unfinished recognition of the students' education if the student acquired education abroad. It prescribes that "the person who submitted a request for recognition and equivalence of the certificate acquired abroad, can conditionally attend the next grade if the procedure is not completed by the end of the term for enrolling students in school. The student whose certificate, based on recognition, i.e. equivalence, entitles him to enroll in a lower year than the year in which he was conditionally enrolled, is transferred to the appropriate year and thus the conditional enrollment is canceled."
For the time being, there is no top-level education authority support to the schools in establishing Ukrainian groups/classes in providing opportunities (including space, computers/internet) for distance learning.