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Yugoslavia Table of Contents


Secondary Education

Secondary education also improved noticeably in the postwar decades. Between 1947 and 1981, the number of students in secondary and postsecondary schools rose more than sixfold, and by 1984 more than 90 percent of the pupils who completed primary school continued their education on the secondary level. In 1989 the secondary school student-teacher ratio in Yugoslavia overall reached 15:1, although the ratio varied by region.

A comprehensive curriculum reform in 1974 offered students a choice of postprimary instruction paths. The motivation for reform was to contribute more skilled workers to Yugoslav industry. The reform basically combined separate college preparatory and vocational schools into "giant" standard secondary schools in which the first two years of instruction were uniform for all students. In the third year, students were expected to choose a general career path from college preparatory and vocational options.

Critics complained bitterly that the new curriculum failed to prepare students adequately to meet the country's needs. University officials asserted that students spent too much time in vocational instruction; enterprise directors complained that the vocational track still did not prepare enough young people to fill skilled jobs. Critics on both sides called for a return to completely separate four-year college-preparatory and vocational schools. In 1990 another round of reforms was imminent, but Yugoslavia's economic woes delayed funding. Between 1977 and 1984, spending on education had already fallen from 5.9 percent to 3.5 percent of total national income.

The amount of secondary school instruction conducted in minority languages rose rapidly after World War II. In 1945 only 4,233 students received such instruction; in 1985-1986 the number was 85,892 (see table 8, Appendix). In addition to Serbo-Croatian, Slovenian, and Macedonian, secondary school instruction was conducted in Albanian, Bulgarian, Czechoslovak, Hungarian, Italian, Romanian, Slovak, and Turkish. Government officials hoped that increasing the average education level in Kosovo would reduce future demographic growth in the region. According to the 1981 census, 55.5 percent of Kosovo's population over age fifteen had completed elementary school; this figure was only 5.2 percent in 1953 (see table 9, Appendix).

Data as of December 1990