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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Single-structure primary and lower secondary education


5.Single-structure primary and lower secondary education

Last update: 20 December 2023

Integrated primary and lower secondary education takes place in primary schools where pupils complete the first nine years of 10-year compulsory school attendance. Details of compulsory school attendance are defined in Act no. 245/2008 Coll. on education and training (Zákon č. 245/2008 Z. z. o výchove a vzdelávaní). Tasks of state administration bodies and their sphere of authority concerning compulsory school attendance are defined by Act no. 596/2003 Coll. on state administration in education and school self-government (Zákon č. 596/2003 Z. z. o štátnej správe v školstve a školskej samospráve). Details on the primary school organization, compulsory school attendance, provision of education, and others are defined in the Decree of the Ministry of Education no 223/2022 Coll. on primary school (Vyhláška MŠVVaŠ SR č. 223/2022 Z. z. o základnej škole).

Under the principles and goals of education, the primary school supports the development of the pupil's personality based on the principles of humanism, equal treatment, tolerance, democracy, and patriotism, in terms of intellectual, moral, ethical, aesthetic, occupational, and physical. It provides the pupil with basic knowledge, skills, and abilities in the fields of languages, science, social sciences, arts, sports, health, transport, and other knowledge and skills necessary for his orientation in life and society and his further education.

Primary schools provide primary and lower secondary education to children from the age of 6 years through educational programmes, ensuring their preparation for further education and practice.  According to the Education Act, education provided in primary school is considered to be continuous vocational training.

Primary education (ISCED 1) provides the foundation for the gradual development of pupils’ key competencies as a basis of general education. The main primary education programme goals are pupils’ key competencies developed at such a level that is achievable for them. The following competencies are considered key at this stage: communication skills, mathematical literacy, science and technology literacy, digital literacy (information-communication technology), and learning and problem-solving skills. Then there are personal, social, and civic competencies, the ability to understand the culture in context and use the culture’s means of expression.

Lower-secondary education is based on an interdisciplinary approach to help pupils acquire new knowledge and competencies and develop their analytical and critical thinking skills. Up-to-date knowledge and its use in practice are a starting point for acquiring new knowledge and further development of pupils’ competencies.

The primary school usually consists of nine grades organised into two stages, in which the education is provided through separate mutually interlinked educational programmes: 

  • the first stage of primary school is composed of Grades 1–4, 
  • the second stage of primary school is composed of Grades 5–9.

Primary schools are divided into the following types:

  • primary school with all grades (hereinafter referred to as 'fully organised primary school'),
  • primary school that does not have all grades (hereinafter referred to as 'not fully organised primary school').

Upon the successful completion of the respective educational programme the pupil may achieve: 

  1. primary education (ISCED 1),
  2. lower secondary education (ISCED 2).

Primary education is obtained by the pupil’s successful completion of the last grade of the educational programme for the first stage of primary school; the school certificate serves as proof of the achieved level of education and qualification.

Lower secondary education is obtained by the pupil’s successful completion of:

In a location where no conditions have been created for the establishment of all nine grades of the primary school (at least 150 children), it is possible to found a primary school with the first stage grades only (for at least 30 children). In compliance with Decree no. 223/2022 on primary school, pupils who complete the last year of a not fully organised school continue their compulsory school attendance in a fully organised primary school that has all grades.