Serbia Education Facts

Training

In Serbia, children start school at the age of seven. After the eight-year elementary school, students can choose between a four-year high school, which gives admission to higher studies, and any vocational school or technical education.

The compulsory schooling includes one year in preschool in addition to the eight compulsory school years. Voluntary preschool is offered to children from six months of age. The compulsory school consists of two four-year stages.

  • COUNTRYAAH: Country facts of Serbia, including geography profile, population statistics, and business data.

The vast majority go to state schools and all tuition, even at the college level, is free of charge, although students are often paid for school books. The private alternatives that exist do not receive public funds and are chargeable.

There are eight state universities, with Belgrade being the largest and oldest. In addition, there are also a number of private universities and colleges. The quality of higher education dropped during the 1990s in the wake of the wars. Serbia is still affected by this, but a cautious reform of both primary and higher education is underway, partly financed by EU funds, and school premises and more are being refurbished. However, it all goes a long way in the pace and extent that would be needed.

  • Educationvv: Provides school and education information in Serbia, covering middle school, high school and college education.

FACTS – EDUCATION

Proportion of children starting primary school

95.2 percent (2017)

Number of pupils per teacher in primary school

14 (2017)

Reading and writing skills

98.8 percent (2016)

Public expenditure on education as a percentage of GDP

9.0 percent (2016)

Public expenditure on education as a percentage of the state budget

9.0 percent (2016)

2016

December

Russian weapons are bought

December 21

On a visit to Moscow, Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić and the Russian Defense Minister sign an agreement on arms deliveries from Russia. Among other things, Serbia will receive six MIG-29 fighter aircraft and other military equipment. The opposition believes that the plan is old-fashioned and requires upgrading, but the government claims that the settlement will be cheap and that Serbian pilots are used to the Russian plans.

November

Low-wage protest

November 27th

To mark the low wages of younger officers and soldiers, Serbia’s military trade union is conducting a street demonstration in Belgrade, the first of its kind. According to the union, more than three-quarters of the employees in the army earn less than the average salary of around 420 euros.

October

Coat of arms near the Prime Minister’s residence

October 29th

The Interior Minister announces that Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić has been kept safe after discovering a large cache of weapons (hand grenades, bazookas and large quantities of machine and sniper rifle ammunition) in the woods near his home.

August

Co-operation with Republika Srpska

August 28th

About 200 police officers from special forces from Serbia and the Republic of Srpska hold a joint anti-terrorist exercise on the Serbian side of the Drina border, opposite the Bosnian city of Zvornik. The exercise does not involve any police or security personnel from the Bosnian-Croatian Federation or from the state level, which helps to raise concerns about cohesion in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Continued tensions between Serbia and Croatia

August 25th

Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić, at the last moment, refuses to attend a ministerial meeting in Dubrovnik (Dubrovnik Business Forum) even though many believe it would have been a good opportunity to try to dissolve the ties between neighboring countries. When Vučić a few days later invites the diplomatic corps and the heads of foreign missions and institutions in Serbia to talks about the security policy situation in the Balkans, the Croatian ambassador is not present.

Serbian military exercises

22 August

The Serbian Ministry of Defense announces that Serbian troops will participate in a multinational military exercise under NATO called “Combined Resolve VII”. The exercise, held in Germany from August 27 to September 15, is organized by the United States. In September and October, Serbia will also host Russian troops in two joint exercises: “Slavic Brotherhood 2016” and “BARS 2016”.

Serbian-Croat disagreement

August 15th

The Croatian interior minister Vlaho Orepić dilutes the deteriorating relations between Croatia and Serbia by claiming that there are probably not enough ethnic Serbs in the eastern Croatian city of Vukovar that these may require bilingual signs and the right to use Serbs at public institutions, etc., something like leads to sharp reactions in Belgrade. According to the law, localities with a certain minority of more than 30 percent are obliged to use this language as an official language. According to the latest census (2011), 34 percent of Serbs are in Vukovar.

New government ready

9th of August

Three and a half months after the new election on April 24, Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić finally presents his proposal for a new government to Parliament. Many ministers are replaced, but SPS leader Ivica Dačić is proposed to retain the post of First Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister.

July

Car factory is closed

July 21st

The legendary car factory Zastava in the city of Kragujevac closes for good.

Guantánamo prisoners to Serbia

July 19

In an attempt to balance its policy between the West and Russia, Serbia agrees to receive two prisoners, from Yemen and Tajikistan respectively, who will be released from the Guantánamo base in Cuba. The intention is that the two should be integrated into Serbian society. The decision is made in connection with a visit by Deputy US Secretary of State Victoria Nuland in Belgrade.

Increased border control

July 17

Serbia decides to establish a joint police and army force to patrol the border with Bulgaria and Macedonia with the task of stopping illegal migrants from entering the country. Hungary’s decision in early July to strengthen border security against Serbia and send back migrants, most of them from Pakistan and Afghanistan, has resulted in around 3,000 refugees wanting to join the EU in Serbia.

June

Protesting journalists are fired

June 30th

Five journalists who signed during a protest against the redundancies on the state radio and TV in Vojvodina in May are themselves dismissed.

Reduced number of civil servants

June 22

After the International Monetary Fund (IMF) completes its fourth review of its agreement with Serbia, the government declares that an additional 7,000 public servants will be removed in 2016.

Agreement with Croatia

June 20

After first meeting on a border bridge between Croatia and Serbia, Croatian President Kolinda Grabar Kitarović and Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić continue to the city of Subotica in northern Serbia, where they sign a six-point agreement on better relations between the countries. This has been quite shaky in recent years, not least since Croatia, as a member of the EU, set the bar for Serbia to open Chapter 23 in its membership negotiations with the EU, which deals, among other things, with the treatment of minorities and cooperation with the War Criminal Tribunal in The Hague. In the agreement, the two leaders declare that they want to put all disagreements behind them and with the agreement Serbia can now continue its negotiations with the EU.

Chinese state visit

17th of June

Chinese President Xi Jinping initiates a three-day visit to Serbia. During the visit, a total of 22 different cooperation agreements are signed in areas such as construction and infrastructure, telecommunications, trade, defense and media.

May

Vučić visits Putin

May 26

Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić makes an unannounced visit to Moscow. There are strong feelings when Russian President Vladimir Putin at a meeting between them lets him understand that he would like to see that the new Serbian government will contain a greater number of Russian-friendly (such as SPS leader Ivica Dačić) than Western-friendly ministers.

Demonstrations against the Belgrade construction project

May 26

In protest of the planned construction project on the river Sava in Belgrade (see April 25, 2016), around 9,000 people march to the city hall. It is one of several demonstrations against the government-supported project organized by the group Let’s not drown Belgrade.

Demonstrations in Vojvodina

May 23

In Novi Sad, a protest demonstration is held that several journalists at the state radio and TV in Vojvodina were dismissed a few weeks after the ruling party SNS after the April elections took power in the provincial parliament in Vojvodina. Journalists’ associations believe that the dismissals are political, which Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić denies.

April

Nightly house demolitions in Belgrade

April 25

On election night, masked men without warning start to demolish housing and office buildings in Savamala, a worn-out part of the capital next to the Sava River where a controversial new commercial center and luxury housing is planned together with a consortium from the United Arab Emirates, which is investing three billion dollars in the project. Residents call the police, who do not show up.

Vučić remains on the roll of victory

April 24

As expected, the Serbian Progress Party (SNS) stands as the winner with just over 48 percent of the vote (131 of 250 seats in Parliament and thus its own majority), while a list under the so-called Coalition Partner Serbia’s Socialist Party (SPS) gets almost 11 percent (29 seats). The newly acquitted Vojislav Šešelj’s party SRS comes in third place with just over eight percent of the votes (22 seats). Also a coalition led by the Democratic Party (DS) can pass the five percent block (just over six percent and 16 seats), as well as the pro-European, liberal opposition movement Now it Sucks (Dosta je bilo; just over six percent and 16 seats), as well as a coalition between the pro-European SDS / LDP / LSV under former Serbian President Boris Tadić (just over five percent, 13 seats); as many percent and places get the pro-Russian, the right-wing nationalist coalition between the Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) and Dveri. In addition, four parties representing different minorities are given seats in parliament. The turnout is just over 56 percent. At the same time as the parliamentary elections, local elections and elections to the provincial parliament in Vojvodina are held, where the DS so far is allowed to hand over power to the SNS. Also in Kosovo, where the Serbs were allowed to vote, SNS won by about 2/3 of the votes cast.

Chinese company buys Serbian steel mill

April 15

HBIS, the largest steel producer in China and the world’s third largest, buys the Serbian steel plant Železara Smederevo, for EUR 46 million. The Chinese plan to invest EUR 300 million in the steel mill, which means that all just over 5,000 employees are allowed to keep their jobs. The steel plant was sold in 2003 to US Steel for $ 23 million but was bought back by Serbia in 2012 for one dollar (see also Finance).

March

Nationalist leader acquitted by UN tribunal

March 31st

The UN War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague acquits Serbian nationalist politician Vojislav Šešelj on all nine charges, including war crimes and crimes against humanity during the war in Yugoslavia in the 1990s. According to the court, the evidence of the prosecutor is insufficient. Šešelj, who is the leader of the right-wing populist Radical Party, has constantly declared himself innocent of the charges, which also included attempts to create a Greater Serbia at the expense of other peoples. He volunteered for the Hague in 2003 but was allowed to travel to Serbia in late 2014 for cancer treatment.

Royal visit

March 16

British successor Charles and his wife Camilla come to Serbia as part of an official tour of the Balkans. The purpose of the visit is to promote peace and reconciliation in the region.

The Balkan route is closed

March 9

After the EU and Turkey reached a draft agreement on the refugee issue and Slovenia closed its borders to anyone except those who have valid travel documents, seek international protection or have humanitarian reasons, Serbia is following along with Croatia and Macedonia. This means that the so-called Balkan route for migrants is closed, and thousands of refugees are at risk of being trapped in Greece or forced to seek alternative, more dangerous routes into Europe.

February

No opposition alliance

February 1st

The former ruling party DS announces that attempts to form a alliance with the Liberal Democratic LDP and the Social Democratic SDS, both outbreaks of the DS, have failed. Opinion polls ahead of the elections, which are expected to be held at the end of April, point to a new victory for the ruling SNS.

January

Kosovo talks continue

January 28

In Brussels, EU-led talks between Serbia and Kosovo resume on a normalization of relations. In addition to a follow-up of agreements already made, much time is spent discussing how to implement the decision on self-government for the Serb-dominated municipalities in northern Kosovo. In addition, it will be agreed to start discussions on direct train and air links between Serbia and Kosovo. The talks, where the countries are represented by their Prime Ministers, Serbia’s Aleksandar Vučić and Kosovo’s Isa Mustafa, are led by EU Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini and are in good spirits.

New elections are expected

January 17

Prime Minister Vučić announces that new elections will be held, pointing out that the country needs four years of stability to prepare for EU membership.