Education in Croatia dates back to the 10th century and up to 19th, it was linked to Church and priesthood. Later on, Maria Theresia brought systematic education on these grounds. It was required that all male children for the age of 6 to 13 attend school. From then every place that had parish church required to open a school. The same year began the training for future teachers in Bjelovar, Karlovac, and Petrinja. The first public college for training teachers was opened 1849 in Zagreb.
In 1945, seven-year education became compulsory and this increased to eight-year education in 1958 for all children from the age of 7 to 15.
In 1874, the Croatian Parliament issued the first Croatian Educational Act, which regulated compulsory of five-year education. Up until then, German was the first language in schools.
Today, education is protected by Article 66 of the Constitution of the Republic of Croatia. The educational system begins with preschools – kindergartens. Kindergartens are responsible for a full day or shorter educational programs. These type of educational programs are optional and are not compulsory.
Children who are six and a half or 7 years old are obligated to attend elementary school, which lasts 8 years. Upon successfully finishing elementary school, those children may continue optional secondary education where they can choose various options. It is divided according to curricula into gymnasiums, vocational schools (technical, industrial, economic, etc.) also art schools (music, dance, art).
Gymnasiums offer comprehensive syllabus which lasts 4 years and end with final exam or state Matura. Art schools last from one to five years and students can attend Matura if they are parallel with art school finished one of the secondary schools. Since 2010, Matura results have been used as the basis for enrolling in further education. Secondary schools prepare a student to work in their chosen field or to pursue adult educational programs.
Both, elementary and high school education is free in Croatia.
Students only buy textbooks, schools equipment, and cafeteria food. In addition to that, Croatia pays health insurance for students and gives thousands of scholarships each year.
Higher education is conducted in higher educational institutions throughout universities and professional studies. They are divided into polytechnics, colleges of applied science, faculties and art academics.
High education is also mostly free because government funds all public universities and allows them to set quotas for free enrollment, based on students prior results (usually high school grades, or Matura (final exam)).
Croatia signed the Bologna declaration in Prague meeting of ministers in charge of lower education in 2009, thereby agreeing to adjust higher education programs to Bologna Process by 2010.
Unfortunately, due to the low wages that teachers have, there is a shortage of teachers all around Croatia.
Today, in Croatia, there are 90 public and 32 private higher educational institutes. Latest numbers say that over 67% of students are enrolled in higher education.
So, to conclude, Croatia offers many choices for young millennials in choosing future paths.