Curriculum, Subjects, Number of Hours
The national curriculum is determined by the Law on Secondary Education (SR) and issued by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development and Institute for Improvement of Education. It serves as a basis for developing school programs 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 for General Education Subjects (SR).
The National Curriculum contains detailed instructions for the presentation of each subject, as well as recommended teaching methods. A separate curriculum and school programs 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 a 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 curriculum for vocational schools is different for every field of study. However, it is based on the general secondary education curriculum. One part of each vocational school curriculum coincides with the general education curriculum:
- 30% of the curriculum in 3-year schools and
- 40% of the curriculum in 4-year schools is general.
The rest is specifically designed for each separate field of study. Center for vocational and adult education of the Institute for the Improvement of Education prepares part of the curricula for secondary vocational education and training for all vocational profiles.
An example of a general secondary education curriculum is given in the section on Teaching and Learning in General Secondary Education.
ICT and foreign languages are taught as obligatory subjects at secondary schools. The first foreign language is usually English, whereas the second is German, French or Russian, as offered by the particular school. Other languages may be offered if available (e.g. the Italian language at music schools).
Religious Instruction or Civic Education classes are mandatory throughout all grades of each secondary school, meaning that students are required to choose one of these two subjects. Other optional subjects may be offered by the school.
A curriculum for students with learning difficulties is developed through the Individual Education Plan, adopted by a school team (includes parents, teachers and the 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. one subject or a group of similar subjects that the student is struggling with). If required, standards of achievement and learning outcomes may be altered in line with a pupil’s capacities.
Teaching Methods and Materials
Teachers are required to perform all teaching activities for a particular subject as prescribed by the National Curriculum, School Programme and students’ needs through:
- theoretical and practical classes,
- additional classes,
- supplementary classes,
- preparatory classes and
- 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 didactical and learning materials that contribute to the curriculum realisation.
Parameters for textbooks and teaching materials are regulated by the Law on Textbooks (SR). This law aims at regulating the textbook market, as well as providing equal access to textbooks to minorities, pupils with special educational needs, and VET students.
Textbooks are primary teaching and learning resources.
A Textbooks Plan for vocational subjects in vocational schools, on the proposal of the Institute for the Improvement of Education is adopted by the Minister according to the obtained opinion of the Council for Vocational Education and Adult Education. Textbooks Plan contains a list of all textbooks and additional teaching materials required for the realisation of the curriculum during the school year.
The institutions are also required to establish quality standards that determine:
- the textbook contents,
- educational and psychological requirements,
- didactical 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 communications 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, Science and Technological Development, whereupon a Catalogue of approved textbooks is issued. The Catalogue is updated regularly throughout the year which assures the quality and modernity 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 programs when the choice is made for a period of one year. A manual for vocational subjects in vocational and art schools can also be issued by an association of professional and artistic schools.
The Government decides on financing or co-financing the preparation and / or procurement of textbooks and manuals, for socially and materially disadvantaged and for pupils 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, grade and subject for which the textbooks and manuals will be financed or co-financed;
- the conditions and criteria based on which the pupil is entitled to the financing or co-financing.
The Law determines 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;
- tutorial for pilot programs;
- a textbook for learning on special programs (overseas education, programs for talented students, etc.);
- a textbook for subjects attended by less than 2% of students and attendees of the total number of pupils and students in the generation who attend the same program.
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 printing of these textbooks if the raised funds are insufficient .
Special textbooks are issued for students with disabilities, according to 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.