Basic education covers primary and lower secondary education within a single structure. Basic education in Serbia provides all pupils with equal opportunities and accessibility of high quality education, adapted to pupils’ age and personal needs. Basic education is compulsory and it lasts 8 years. It consists of 8 school grades, divided into two cycles:
- Cycle 1 (primary education): 1st to 4th grade;
- Cycle 2 (lower secondary education): 5th to 8th grade.
Pupils start basic education at the age of 7, which is the only admission criterion. Schools are mainly public and free, although there are private schools too. The language of instruction is Serbian, but other languages of instruction for national minorities are also available where necessary (e.g. Hungarian, Romanian, Albanian etc.). Pupils complete primary education when they pass the final exam at the end of the 8th grade, after which they are awarded the Primary School Certificate.
The Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development in cooperation with the local authorities supervises basic education. The Law on the Education System Foundations and Law on Primary Education are the legal basis for education implementation on this level, along with all bylaws and regulations. In compliance with these legal documents, each school is required to issue a development plan, a school programme and an annual plan. These documents regulate the organisation of all school affairs, according to the national law. Some aspects of basic education lie within the competence of other public institutions that are responsible for education quality assurance, textbook standards and other aspects important for the functioning of the education system (Institute for the Improvement of Education, National Education Council etc.)