Curriculum, Subjects, Number of Hours
The national curriculum is determined by the Law on Upper Secondary Education and issued by the Ministry of Education and Institute for the Improvement of Education. It serves as a basis for developing school programmes on a school level. Learning outcomes for General Education Subjects are determined by the Bylaw on General Standards of Achievement for the End of General Upper Secondary Education and Vocational Upper Secondary Education .
The National Curriculum contains detailed instructions for the presentation of each subject, and recommended teaching methods. Separate curricula and school programmes for each grade include:
- A list of compulsory, elective and optional subjects;
- A prescribed number of school hours for each subject;
- A detailed description of each subject and its aims, objectives, contents, topics and sequence of lessons;
- A description and the number of hours planned for any additional curricular (e.g. additional and supplementary classes) or extracurricular activities (e.g. sports and cultural activities, excursions etc.).
A list of subjects and the prescribed number of school hours for general track grammar school students is given in the table below. Curricula for other types of general upper secondary schools or tracks are based on the same general curriculum but focus on the primary field of study in the school/track. For example, the general grammar school – Social Sciences track includes more subjects and school hours related to social sciences than those related to natural sciences.
ICT and foreign languages are regularly taught at upper secondary schools. The first foreign language is usually English, whereas the second foreign language is usually German, French or Russian, as offered by the particular school. Other languages may be offered if available. The Latin language is also a compulsory part of general upper secondary education.
Some general upper secondary schools offer the possibility of bilingual classes, in French, English, Italian, German or Russian. In these classes, at least 30 percent of lessons are taught in a foreign language. Most commonly, lessons taught in a foreign language include natural sciences, as well as Civic Education. These programmes are supported by and carried out with the support of national cultural centres for the respective languages.
Religious Instruction or Civic Education classes are compulsory options throughout all grades of each upper secondary school, meaning that students are required to choose one of these two subjects. According to the Bylaw on the Teaching and Learning Programme for General Upper Secondary Schools, elective subjects in general upper secondary education are offered by a school. In the first and second grade, the school is obliged to offer 4 elective subjects and the student selects 2 of them: Language, media and culture, Individual, group and society, Health and sports, Education for sustainable development, Art and design and Applied sciences. In the third and fourth grade of general upper secondary education, the school is obliged to offer 5 elective subjects and the student selects 2 of them: Education for sustainable development, Art and design, Applied sciences 1, Applied sciences 2, Basics of geopolitics, Economy and business, Religions and civilizations, Methodology of scientific research, Modern technologies.
After the first grade, a student can change an elective subject for the second grade, but once they select an elective subject in the third grade, there are not any changes by the end of general upper secondary education.
A curriculum for students with learning difficulties is developed through the Individual Education Plan, adopted by a school team (consisting of parents, teachers and a school psychologist). According to this plan, the whole curriculum may be adjusted to the particular student’s needs. Alternatively, adjustments can be made to some parts of the curriculum (e.g. a subject or a group of similar subjects with which the student is struggling). If required, standards of achievement and learning outcomes may be altered in line with student’s capacities.
Teaching Methods and Materials
Teachers are required to hold all teaching activities for a particular subject as prescribed by the National Curriculum, School Programme and determined by students’ needs:
- theoretical and practical lessons,
- additional lessons,
- supplementary lessons,
- preparatory lessons and
- provide additional support.
Teachers are free to choose teaching methods according to their own teaching styles and concrete teaching conditions (class size, classroom equipment, available resources and materials etc.). Teachers may use any didactic and learning materials that contribute to the curriculum implementation.
Textbooks are primary teaching and learning resources. Parameters for textbooks and teaching materials are regulated by the new Law on Textbooks. This law aims at regulating the textbook market and providing equal access to textbooks to minorities, studentss with special educational needs and VET students.
A Textbooks Plan is issued every year based on the National Curriculum objectives.This Plan contains a list of all textbooks and additional teaching materials required for the implementation of the curriculum during the school year. The National Education Council and Institute for the Improvement of Education propose the Plan and the Minister approves it.
The institutions are also required to establish quality standards that determine:
- the textbook contents,
- educational and psychological requirements,
- didactic and methodological standards,
- language requirements,
- ethical requirements,
- visual and technical identity and other characteristics.
Every textbook needs to contain an electronic addendum, aiming to increase the use of information and communication technology in teaching.
In order to be used in schools, textbook samples submitted by different publishers have to be approved by the Ministry of Education, whereupon a Catalogue of approved textbooks is issued. The Catalogue is updated regularly throughout the year, which ensures the quality and up-to-dateness of the textbooks listed. The same textbook issued by the same publisher is used in all classes of the same grade in the same school. The selection of the textbook is done for a period of four school years, except for new programmes when the choice is made for a period of one year.
The Government decides on financing or co-financing the preparation and/or procurement of textbooks and manuals, for the socially and financially disadvantaged and for students with disabilities. The decision is made on 1 March of the current year for the next school year. By decision, the Government determines:
- the level and type of education, the grade and subject for which the textbooks and manuals will be financed or co-financed;
- the conditions and criteria on the basis of which the student is entitled to financing or co-financing.
The Law defines a low-circulation textbook as a textbook whose direct and indirect production costs as well as sales costs are higher than the retail price.
A low-circulation textbook is considered as:
- a textbook on the language and script of a national minority;
- a textbook adapted to the educational needs of students with disabilities in development and disability;
- a tutorial for pilot programmes;
- a textbook for learning in special programmes (overseas education, programmes for talented students, etc.);
- a textbook for subjects attended by less than 2% of students and other attendees of the total number of students and attendees in the generation which attends the same programme.
The textbook publisher is obliged to participate in the provision of funds for issuing low-circulation textbooks in the amount of 2% of net income generated from the textbooks sales in the previous calendar year. The Government reserves the right to allocate extra funds towards the printing of these textbooks if the raised funds are insufficient.
Special textbooks are issued for students with disabilities based on their needs and learning capacities. It is the school’s responsibility to eliminate physical (spatial) and communication barriers and facilitate learning processes for these students, as envisaged by the Individual Education Plan.