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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
National reforms in school education


14.Ongoing reforms and policy developments

14.2National reforms in school education

Last update: 30 March 2024
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In February 2024, the Bylaw on socially useful (i.e. humanitarian) work in educational institutions was adopted, which defines the detailed conditions, method, content, length, place and time of implementation and other issues of importance for the implementation of socially useful work in schools. 

Socially useful work includes the realization of activities which develop socially responsible behavior of students and is part of the annual work plan of the institution within the plan of protection against violence. The activities of socially useful work are the following activities: humanitarian actions; environmental actions for the arrangement of the school, classrooms, other rooms, as well as the school environment; actions to collect materials for recycling; preparation, i.e. arrangement of the school space for holding school events, exhibitions, guest appearances, sports and other competitions; visits to social protection institutions for the accommodation of children and youth, homes for the elderly and the Red Cross; and other activities that contribute to the development of empathy, tolerance and the improvement of relations based on mutual respect and cooperation.

The participation of students in socially useful work organized by the school creates the conditions for determining the students’ behavior grade from the second to the eighth grade of basic school and in all grades of upper secondary school. 

In the same year, new bylaws on assessment were adopted: Bylaw on the Pupil Assessment in Basic Education and Bylaw on the Pupil Assessment in Secondary Education. These bylaws specify the procedure and criteria for assessment of students’ behavior, which is done twice per term and affects the final grade of students. This means that when calculating the students’ behavior grade, it is also considered the student's engagement in extracurricular activities, in the planning and implementation of preventive activities, his behavior towards other students and school staff and the performance of school duties, as well as absences and issued disciplinary measures. 

Also, these bylaws regulate the way of assessment students who have been excused from classes for a longer period and specify the already existing provisions related to canceling written knowledge tests when there are more than 50% negative grades in the class. Additionally, the role of parents when giving feedback on the teacher's work is defined. If the parents of more than half of the students from the same class believe that a certain teacher does not conduct teaching and other forms of educational work, including evaluation, monitoring and assessment of students in accordance with the regulations, the school acts according to the procedure established by these regulations. 

For secondary schools, the number of grades for subjects and programmes for classes that take place less than two times per week, as well as assessment in vocational and dual education was additionally regulated, considering the specifics of practical teaching in vocational and dual programmes.  


According to the Amendments of the Bylaw on the Programme of Final Exam in Basic Education introduced in 2022, the new concept of the final exam has been defined. Until recently, the final exam comprised three tests: native language, mathematics and a combined test (combines natural and social sciences). In the end of 2022/2023 school year, for the first time pupils will take the final exam with a new structure. It will comprise three tests: native language, mathematics and a subject chosen by the pupil. Instead of a combined test (which used to combine tasks in natural and social sciences), pupils will choose one from the list of five subjects: Biology, Geography, History, Physics and Chemistry. This means that all pupils who complete the eighth grade in the 2022/2023 school year and pupils who completed the eighth grade in previous years and did not take the final exam, as well as the next generation of eighth-grade pupils, will take the final exam according to the new concept. Pupils can score a maximum of 14 points on the test in the native language, 14 points on the mathematics test and 12 points on the third test.  

In the end of 2022, the Institute for Education Quality and Evaluation has prepared tests in Biology, Geography, History, Physics and Chemistry to test the knowledge of pupils in the seventh grade to get insights into pupils’ preferences in the context of a possible choice for the future third test for the final exam at the end of the eighth grade. According to the Institute for Education Quality and Evaluation in Serbia, the new concept of the final exam will make it easier for pupils and prepare them for the future state graduation exam (State Matura) that starts in 2024. 


According to the Amendments of the Law on Primary Education published in 2022, teaching and learning process can be organised in a combined classes from the fifth to the eighth grade (on ISCED 2 level). A class composed of pupils from two grades can have up to 15 pupils class from three or four grades up to 10 pupils. 

The Amendments of the Law on Secondary Education in 2022 have been related to the definitions of special categories of secondary schools: 

  • School of national importance for the Republic of Serbia: a school that achieves exceptional results at the international level, thereby contributing to the improvement and promotion of the education system of the Republic of Serbia. Such schools are the Mathematical Grammar School in Belgrade and the Gymnasium “Jovan Jovanović Zmaj“ in Novi Sad. 
  • School of special interest for the Republic of Serbia: a school that implements an education programme that is of special interest for the Republic of Serbia, special cultural, educational or historical importance for the Republic of Serbia. 
  • Unique school: a school that is the only one in the Republic of Serbia that implements a certain education programme. 

The Government of he Republic of Serbia designates schools of special interest for the Republic of Serbia and unique schools. 

According to the Amendments of the Law on Secondary Education, the International Baccalaureate (IB) Programme has been recognised and defined as an internationally verified, general education sub-university programme, completed during secondary education for at least two years. Every two years the minister presents a list of IB programmes. A pupil who has completed the fourth grade of secondary school according to the IB programme can take the final international exam. After passing the international baccalaureate, the pupil acquires a public certificate of completed secondary education, in accordance with the programme and the law.   

Additionally, according to the Amendments of the Law on the Education System Foundations, the Ministry of Education established an information system for conducting examinations within the Unified Information System of Education (JISP). This aspect of the system gathers all the relevant data on pupils, including data required for the organization of exams and enrollment of pupils in the next level of education, data on the educational status of pupils, data on the examination procedure and other relevant data. 

From the beginning of the 2022-2023 school year, all basic education pupils can choose some of the elective activities offered by schools. Pupils in each grade on ISCED 2 level choose one of the three elective activities. It means that each pupil takes four different electives during the second cycle of basic education (ISCED 2). As specified in the Amendments to the Bylaw on the teaching and learning plan for the fifth and sixth grades of basic education and the teaching and learning programme for the fifth and sixth grades of basic education, there is a new Framework for Elective Activities introduced by the Ministry of Education. Additionally, there are six electives divided into two groups that have been prepared and introduced by the Institute for the Improvement of Education. Exercise for Health, Life Skills and Media Literacy are intended for pupils in the 5th and 6th grades, while Entrepreneurship, My Environment and Art are offered to 7th- and 8th-grade pupils.  In addition to these elective activities, six programmes prepared and introduced by professional associations.  

Elective activities are part of the curriculum and a relevant part of all school plans in the School Programme and the Annual Work Plan. Programmes of elective activities contain general goals, competencies, outcomes, topics, key terms and instructions for didactic-methodical implementation and pupil evaluation.