In Northern Macedonia, both primary and secondary education are formally compulsory. Nevertheless, many do not complete the entire education. A modernization is underway of the country’s education system, which has long been neglected.
School compulsory school rules range from six years of age to 17-19, depending on the type of school.
The nine-year primary school is run by the municipalities, but is financed by the state. After compulsory school, young people can choose different vocational high school forms for two, three or four years – or four-year college preparatory high school. Most colleges are public and free of charge, but there are some private and fee-based options.
- COUNTRYAAH: Country facts of Macedonia, including geography profile, population statistics, and business data.
Most children attend primary school, but in rural areas and among minority groups, not least the Roma, many students drop out early. One reason may be that parents do not have the opportunity to pay the children’s school books and school lunch.
The school is almost completely segregated between the different groups of people. The quality of teaching and the size of the classes vary greatly. The teaching takes place in four languages: Macedonian, Albanian, Turkish and Serbian.
The education has long been poorly adapted to today’s needs and in international comparisons Macedonian students were among those who had the worst basic knowledge. Investments have recently been made and education is now given high priority by the government, which invests more money at the school than many of the neighboring countries. With financial support from the World Bank, education was modernized throughout the country during the period 2005–2015. Among other things, school buildings were refurbished and students were provided with modern textbooks and computers. Continued efforts are being made to make education more adapted to the labor market and society at large.
Investments are also made on adult education. Almost anyone over 15 can read and write.
The government’s reform of higher education also included that all students, in order to obtain their degree, must pass special state examinations. According to the government, this would increase the quality of education while the students believed that the reform was only intended to get the students thinking as the authorities wanted, that it was contrary to the constitution and threatened the independence of the universities. In late 2014 and early 2015, students, later joined by high school students, conducted extensive protest demonstrations, but the degree requirement was nevertheless passed by the government.
There are state universities in Skopje and Bitola. They only teach in Macedonian and few Albanians study there. In Tetovo, which has a large Albanian majority, the Albanians started in 1995 – despite the government’s ban – a private university teaching in Albanian. In an attempt to resolve the contradiction, a privately funded university was established in Tetovo in 2001, teaching mainly Albanian and English. This was done with the support of the European OSCE. However, following amendments to the Higher Education Act, the unofficial Albanian University of Tetovo in 2004 could be transformed into a government-funded educational institution.
In addition, several private colleges were started in the 2000s, but low admission requirements to attract as many students as possible mean that education at these does not always maintain such a high standard. One problem is also the corruption in the education system that allows some to buy good grades and a higher education.
- Andyeducation: Introduction to education system in Northern Macedonia, including compulsory schooling and higher education.
FACTS – EDUCATION
Number of pupils per teacher in primary school
Reading and writing skills
96.1 percent (2002)
Public expenditure on education as a percentage of GDP
8.6 percent (2002)
Public expenditure on education as a percentage of the state budget
8.6 percent (2002)
ICC criticism of Greece’s veto
The International Court of Justice (ICC), to which Macedonia has turned, explains that Greece was wrong when it vetoed a Macedonian NATO membership. However, the message has no practical significance.
Census is postponed
The planned census is halted until further disagreement has arisen as to which ones to count – how, for example, to do with the many Macedonian citizens who reside outside Macedonia for a shorter or longer period of time?
Worried after the election
The morning after the election, 22-year-old Martin Neškovski was beaten to death in central Skopje by a special police force who would be responsible for the order in the capital when the election results were celebrated. Authorities initially deny responsibility, but many witnesses spread the information on Twitter and demonstrations against police follow. Following calls on Facebook, the protests continue for weeks with the participation of thousands of people.
VMRO-DPMNE wins in new elections
In a new election to Parliament, VMRO-DPMNE is again the largest party but backs 39 percent voter support and receives fewer seats than before. VMRO-DPMNE thus becomes more dependent on its Albanian partner BDI and for the first time an Alban, Fatmir Besimi, is appointed Minister of Defense. The Social Democratic opposition is strongly moving forward in the new election, receiving 33 percent of the vote.
The opposition boycott parliament
The Social Democratic opposition within the SDSM party boycotted the work in Parliament in protest of what it perceives as a blow to government-critical media.