In Early Childhood and School Education teaching and other education-related activities are performed by:
- primary and secondary school teachers;
- preschool teachers and
- special education teachers.
Depending on the institution type and needs, their work can be supported by other professionals:
- adult education teachers;
- social workers;
- special education teachers;
- health workers;
- pedagogical and
- adult education assistants.
Institutions, Level and Models of Training
Teacher qualifications are, according to the Law on the Education System Foundations, acquired at relevant higher education institutions on one of the following levels:
- bachelor degree (undergraduate academic studies or undergraduate professional studies),
- master degree(specialized academic studies or specialised professional studies):
- Second-level studies from a scientific or expert field for the appropriate subject or group of subjects;
- Second-level studies in the field of pedagogical sciences or interdisciplinary, multidisciplinary, transdisciplinary studies of the second degree that combine corresponding scientific, or professional fields or fields of pedagogical sciences.
Тhese levels are explained in the section on Higher Education.
Preschool education staff are professionals who have regular, direct contact with children and whose duties involve education and care. They have main responsibilities for groups of children in preschool education settings. Their duties usually include designing and delivering safe and developmentally appropriate activities in accordance with all relevant programmes/curricula.
Heads of preschool education settings, medical staff (such as doctors and medical assistance), professional specialists (such as psychologists), assistants/auxiliary staff and workers that perform only domestic or maintenance roles (such as preparing food and cleaning premises) are excluded.
Initial education of preschool teachers engaged in early childhood education is provided at:
- secondary medical schools;
- colleges of applied studies (Teacher Training Colleges) or
- universities (Teacher Faculties).
Programmes of secondary medical schools prepare nurses for work with children up to the age of 3. The programmes last for four years, during which, among other they acquire classical knowledge in the field of medicine and professional knowledge in the field of preschool child psychology and general psychology.
Programmes at colleges of applied studies last 3 years (180 ECTS), and upon their completion students receive a Bachelor degree of undergraduate professional studies. One-year specialisation programmes (60 ECTS) are available at these institutions. They offer graduate students additional courses in specific topics regarding early childhood education, such as specialisation for mandatory preschool programme teachers.
University programmes are 4 years long (240 ECTS) and allow graduate students to enrol in a Master programme (60 ECTS). Neither specialisation nor Master programmes are required for preschool teachers.
At least one preschool education staff member by group of children is qualified to minimum Bachelor level (minimum 3 years ISCED 6 (ISCED 2011 classification)) in the field of education.
School teachers obtain their qualifications at universities. Undergraduate studies last 4 years (240 ECTS) and are certified with a Bachelor degree. Graduate Master studies last 1 year (60 ECTS). Starting with 2009, master studies are mandatory for entering a teaching career. Teachers who started their initial education at universities in 2005 or later must attain this level of education, while teachers who started their studies before 2005 must have an undergraduate diploma to work in a school. This diploma is equivalent to the master degree diploma. Before 2009, all teachers were expected to attain undergraduate diploma, in accordance with pre-Bologna higher education system. The minimum length of initial education changed as well, from 4 years (undergraduate programmes before 2005) to 5 years (4-year Bachelor programme plus 1-year Master programme from 2005 onwards).
Teachers who teach at stage 1 of primary education (class teaching) earn their degree at teacher training faculties.
Subject teachers (stage 2 of primary education and entire secondary education) complete their studies at faculties specialised in the field of study they teach (e.g. Faculties of Biology, Mathematics, Philology etc.). While these faculties do not primarily specialise in teacher training, they offer subjects relevant to teachers’ education either throughout the programme or during a part of it (e.g. students may choose to specialise as teachers at their last year of studies). At some faculties, Master programmes for teachers are available for those who want to continue their studies in that field.
As a part of their professional training during their studies, students who plan to work in the teaching profession have to complete at least 30 ECTS in the fields of psychology, pedagogy and teaching methodology and at least 6 ECTS of practical work in an educational institution. This is one of the conditions for entering the teaching profession. This requirement was introduced in 2009. Before 2009 there was no such requirement and the minimum time spent on professional education was not defined through legal acts.
Special education teachers complete their studies at the Faculty of Special Education and Rehabilitation or Faculty of Medicine, which also last 5 years (4 years of undergraduate studies and one year of Master studies). These faculties offer subjects relevant to teaching and work with children with disabilities throughout their study programmes.
Higher institutions for the initial education of teachers can be accredited public or private institutions.
Admission requirements for the initial education of teachers are equivalent to those prescribed for any other fields of study in tertiary education.
All students who have completed their secondary education and passed their graduation exam may enrol in a higher education institution programme. Higher education institutions determine specific admission criteria, but most of them take into account the student’s GPA from secondary school and results of the competitive entrance exam in the field relevant to the study programme the student is applying for. Students are ranked based on these criteria and the highest-ranking ones are admitted.
Curriculum, Level of Specialisation and Learning Outcomes
Curricula and learning outcomes for programmes attended by future teachers are established at higher education institutions. A curriculum contains mandatory and elective courses.
According to the requirement in the initial education of teachers introduced in 2011, as stated in the Law on the Foundations of the Education System, students who plan to work in the teaching profession have to complete at least 30 ECTS in the fields of psychology, pedagogy and teaching methodology and at least 6 ECTS of practical work in an educational institution.
People who completed their 4-year higher education and graduated prior to the introduction of this requirement and the Bologna process are obligated to fulfil the 30+6 ECTS requirement through an accredited programme at a higher institution or as part of their professional development.
Teacher educators in initial education for teachers are higher education teachers. There are no special requirements for academic staff engaged in initial education for teachers.
Mentors for teachers during their induction period are distinguished licensed teachers with at least 5 years’ working experience.
More information about teacher educators can be found in the section on Conditions of Service for Academic Staff Working in Higher Education.
Qualifications, Evaluation and Certificates
As stated in the Bylaw on Standards of Competences in the Teaching Profession and Their Professional Development, competences that are necessary for the teaching profession after the initial education has been completed are divided into 4 categories:
- competences regarding the field of study knowledge (teaching field), subject and teaching methodology;
- teaching and learning competences;
- competences in terms of providing support to student development;
- communication and collaboration competences.
Assessment of students during their initial education for teachers is carried out periodically through tests, written or oral exams, research papers, presentations, participation in class discussion, practical work and other forms of evaluation as determined by the higher institution and teachers’ planning schedules. To successfully complete a course, the student has to pass an exam at the end of each semester with a positive grade (minimum 6, on a scale 5-10). Students graduate from their Bachelor studies once they have passed all exams determined by the curriculum, whereas Master level students, in addition to completing their exams, have to write a final thesis in order to graduate.
Upon graduation, the student receives a diploma certificate for the particular level of studies, which is issued by the higher education institution. Diploma certificates issued by accredited institutions (approved by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development) are recognised and accepted throughout the country. The diploma includes the student’s grades in all subjects, as well as the assessment of his/her competencies relevant to the concrete profession.
Alternative Training Pathways
There are no alternative training pathways in the initial education of teachers.