According to the Law on Adult Education, adult education is part of the Serbian education system and its purpose is to provide adults with continuous acquisition of competences and qualifications that are crucial for their employment, professional development and socially responsible behaviour.
As stated in the Law on Adult Education, the goals of adult education in Serbia are the following:
- Improvement of educational structure and employability of citizens;
- Creation of a basis for socio-economic development of Serbia;
- Increase in professional mobility and flexibility of the working population;
- Providing grounds for the reduction of poverty, social equality, social inclusion and intergenerational solidarity;
- Improvement of personal and family life standards, along with the social and natural environment;
- Development of democracy, multiculturalism and tolerance;
- Integration into the European social, economic and educational frameworks.
Adult education is realized as:
- formal education;
- informal education and
- informal learning.
As an organised and systematic activity of learning intended for people above a certain age, adult education can be formal or non-formal. Formal Adult education is based on the approved national curricula within the primary and secondary education systems, as regulated by the Law on the Foundations of the Education System, Law on Primary Education, and Law on Secondary Education. Although based on the mainstream primary and secondary education concepts, achievement standards for these programmes are adjusted to the adult population. There are two types of programmes: general formal education, which aims to raise achievement in basic skills, and vocational formal education, aiming to acquire a recognised qualification during adulthood.
Activities within adult education as specified by the Law on Adult Education are the following:
- General education, directed towards acquiring key competences;
- Vocational education and specialisation, directed towards acquiring or improving vocational competences required for participation in the labour market;
- Professional development, directed towards the improvement of professional skills and knowledge;
- Assessment and recognition of previously acquired competences;
- Career guidance and counselling, with a view to improving career development skills important for successful employment and professional progress.
Adults who receive primary education according to the adult education programme are persons older than 15 years. Adults who receive secondary adult education are persons older than 17 years of age.
A number of adult education programmes are financed from the state and/or local authorities’ budgets, in compliance with the annual plan which is issued by the Government each year, prior to the start of the school year. This is the case with primary education for adults and vocational education programmes leading to the learners’ first vocation. These programmes are free of charge for the participants. Other programmes may be financed from other sources, either individually or jointly by different financiers.
These sources include the following:
- Local authorities;
- Private employers;
- International organisations and funds.
Adult education programmes can be organised in Serbian or in a minority language, depending on the learners’ ethnicity. There are programmes adjusted to the needs of people with disabilities, as well as those intended for other vulnerable groups.
Since 2017, the Republic of Serbia has become part of the EPALE network. EPALE (Electronic Platform for Adult Learning in Europe) is a portal for teachers, coaches, researchers, decision makers and anyone involved in adult education. The portal allows participants to exchange experiences, materials, and other content relevant to the field of adult education through forums and blogs.