Macedonia's current educational system is a hybrid of systems common to most of Western Europe. First steps of education begin with kindergarten, which gives the children an opportunity to get their first touch with the external social world. Kindergarten is however not obligatory but a very helping tool especially to families with both parents employed.
EDUCATION AT PRIMARY LEVEL
Public education at primary level is compulsory for eight years and available free of charge for children aged between 6/7 and 14 (primary education).
EDUCATION AT SECONDARY LEVEL
Secondary education comprises the following areas:
.classical high school education
.high school education for disabled students .art high school education
The attendance of secondary school was for many years voluntarily but strongly recommended, and as of September 2008 has also being made compulsory. It represents a forward-looking background for further professional development. The grading system in secondary school is on a five-point-scale with 5 being excellent. Fees for attendance the secondary school per year are: 16 ¤ for one apprentice, 26 ¤ for siblings.
The higher level of education can be obtained at on one of the five state universities as well as on a number of private ones. Intending to invest in its own future, the Government has recently made a decision to allow opening branches of Universities in almost every small region in the country, making university education more convenient and available, and making it easier for students to save the housing and travelling expenditures. Further more, it has been also decided to cancel (with exceptions) the entrance examination for domestic students.
As of 2001 Macedonia's official languages are Macedonian and Albanian, which enables the students to attend the lectures choosing between one of the two languages. Lectures on English are at present held exclusively at some of the private universities.
UNIVERSITY STUDIES - SECOND LEVEL
According to the Barcelona Process the Magister degree (Master of Science/Master of Arts) is awarded after two years' study followed by research and the writing of a thesis which is defended in public and approved by a mentor. Each graduate student can specialize in relevant professional fields - e.g. Surgery, Obstetrics or Engineering. Such specialization requires one to five years of practical training.
Resent Government projects are financially supporting the system, donating free textbooks in primary and secondary schools.