After the end of World War II, the government of Yugoslavia focused on expanding, modernizing and improving the country’s public education system. Besides building libraries and other educational facilities, the government helped enhance the qualifications of teachers and support them with librarians, special-education instructors, medical specialists and vocational training experts. As in many countries, however, school teachers are highly respected in Bosnia and Herzegovina, but still poorly paid.

Primary school education is compulsory from ages 7 to 15. Children learn English from an early age, and may also study French or German. At the secondary level, students have two options. Lasting three to four years, secondary schools include technical and vocational schools (sredjna skola), which are the most popular, and gimnazia, which offer broad academic education to prepare students for university. Students in sredjna skola choose a skilled trade or field of study, ranging from electronics to medicine. At gimnazia, students are required to study philosophy, art, Latin and biology, in addition to their electives. During the communist era, many students studied pure science, but with the introduction of a free-market economy, applied sciences, economics and modern languages have been becoming more popular.

After graduation, students can further their career training by enrolling at a post-secondary institute, similar to a community college, where they study and work as apprentices in fields such as technology, medicine and business. At the country’s four universities in Sarajevo, Banja Luka, Mostar and Tuzla, students must write entrance examinations for admittance; the competition for limited space is intense. Under communism, learning was free at all levels, but now post-secondary students face tuition fees.

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Bosniaks may attend Muslim public schools where classes are segregated and students devote part of each day to studying the Koran and learning about Islam.

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The University of Sarajevo is one of the oldest and best known in the Balkans.