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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Developments and current policy priorities


8.Adult education and training

8.2Developments and current policy priorities

Last update: 9 June 2022

In the 1990s, the number of institutions providing formal adult education was significantly reduced, leaving only a small number of schools for primary education of adults. According to the Eurostat data from 2008, only 3% of adults in Serbia participated in adult education programmes. In the past decade, the position of adult education has started to change, in terms of the legislative framework and the number of providers of both formal and non-formal adult education. As a result, according to the data gathered in 2011 by the Statistical Office of the Republic of Serbia (the first adult education survey), 16.5% of adults participated in adult education and training in that year. According to the second adult education survey carried out in 2016, the participation percentage slightly increased by 19.8%. However, the geographical distribution of institutions providing adult education still favours the population living in cities, while rural areas lack this kind of programme.

In 2012, adult education was incorporated in a broader education strategy – the Strategy for the Development of Education in Serbia by 2020. The Strategy aims to include at least 7% of adults in Serbia in some types of adult education and training programmes, regardless of their socio-economic and other characteristics.
In 2021, the Government of the Republic of Serbia adopted the Strategy for Education Development in Serbia by 2030. It refers to all education levels from ISCED 0 to ISCED 8, to adult education, teacher education and horizontal aspects of the educational system.  
One of the general objectives defined in the document refers to the quality of teaching and learning, fairness and accessibility of education and a strengthened educational role in all educational institutions including adult education institutions. According to the Strategy, several relevant indicators have been defined: 

  • An increase in the participation rate of adults in education and training
  • A decrease in the percentage of adult learners who drop out of the primary adult education 
  • The improvement of the network of Publicly Accredited Providers of Adult Education and an increased number of providers

In terms of legislation, adult education is regulated by the Law on Education System Foundations and Law on Adult Education. The Law on Adult Education deals with adult education in a lifelong learning context. This law regulated non-formal education for the first time, and it introduced the possibility for acquiring qualifications throughout a lifetime.

According to the Law on Adult Education, the activities within adult education and training are carried out by following the Annual plan of Adult Education. 

The Annual plan of Adult Education 2021 defines four priority education areas in 2021:

  1. Increasing the offer of programmes and providers of education and training services for adults in the territory of the Republic of Serbia within the formal and non-formal education system
  2. Improving the quality assurance system in adult education
  3. Developing a system for recognition of prior learning and promotion of lifelong learning
  4. Establishing the Sub-Register of Publicly Accredited Providers of Adult Education

The main activities in all priority areas have been defined by this document. 

The Annual plan of Adult Education 2021 also refers to financial resources for the implementation of all planned activities and measures in 2021. It includes the plan of retraining, additional training and specialization programmes in all adult education institutions and the plan of teacher education for the implementation of the curriculum in primary adult education during the school year 2020/2021. 

Another important document is the Bylaw on Detailed Conditions Concerning the Programme, Staff, Space, Equipment and Teaching Aids for Acquiring the Status of Publicly Accredited Providers of Adult Education, primary school, secondary school, or other institutions can acquire the status of publicly accredited providers of adult education. Conditions as defined in this document concern the programme, staff competencies and qualifications, teaching methods, materials, and space. All institutions where adult education programme can be provided (not only as formal education or re-training but also as a programme which includes competences improvement, personal and professional development, improvement of everyday life and career guidance and counselling) can acquire this status.

According to the Law on National Qualifications Framework, accreditation of this type of institution is provided by the Qualification Agency. The Law on the National Qualifications Framework is also important in terms of establishing the List of Qualifications of the Republic of Serbia and recognition of prior learning, but also in terms of the relation of labour market policies and education policies. The List of Qualifications describes qualifications that could be acquired through formal, non-formal or informal learning and combines more than 4 000 qualifications for all levels of education. This is one of the basic instruments for monitoring the harmonization of labour market and education system.
The process of referencing the National Qualifications Framework to the European Qualifications Framework was finished in 2021. The implementation of this process in the education system and labour market will enable the recognition and comparability of qualifications acquired in Serbia with the qualifications acquired in other countries.

The process of recognition of prior learning (RPL) is envisaged by the Law on the Education System Foundations. In 2021, piloting the process of RPL started. RPL will enable adults who have acquired knowledge and skills outside the education system through informal or non-formal learning to obtain a qualification.

Also, the Bylaw on General Achievement Standards for Adult Learners in Primary Education defines general competences of adults such as the Serbian language, English, Mathematics, Digital Literacy, Basic Life Skills etc.