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Serbia and Montenegro was a country in the southeastern part of Europe, with a total geographic area of just over 39,000 square miles.  The two countries were formed from two former republics of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, and following the official breakup of that Republic in 1992 following the Yugoslav Wars, the two republics merged to form the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, a region that became known as Serbia and Montenegro after the two countries formed a political union in 2003.  This lasted for approximately three years, but in 2006 the countries went their separate ways, each agreeing to independence in June of that year.  The capital and largest city in the region was Belgrade, which still remains as the capital of Serbia, while the capital of Montenegro is Podgorica.
 
The total population of Serbia and Montenegro is estimated at just less than 10 million. The region is very ethnically heterogeneous, with the largest three groups being the Serbs (62%), Albanians (mostly Ghegs) (17%) and Montenegrins (5%).  There are also several minority groups that reside in the two countries, including people from Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Bosnia and Croatia.
 
Serbian and Montenegrin are the official languages of Serbia and Montenegro respectively, and Serbian, Bosnian, Croatian and Albanian are also recognized regionally in Montenegro.  Both of the official languages are used in their respective country for government, education, commerce and media, and both are used most frequently in colloquially situations.  The three primary religions in Serbia and Montenegro are Orthodox Christianity, Roman Catholicism and the Sunni branch of Islam, with over half of the population practicing Orthodox Christianity.
 
Education in Serbia and Montenegro
 
Education in Serbia and Montenegro is overseen and regulated by their respective Ministries of Education.  Education commences for some children in preschool at age 4 or 5, although this level is not compulsory, and for most in elementary education at the age of 6 or 7.  The education system is divided between elementary or primary education, secondary education and higher education.
 
Elementary education spans eight years, usually beginning at age 6 and culminating at age 14.  This level features a very broad curriculum that stresses language, mathematics and science.  This is the only compulsory level of education, after which students have the opportunity to enroll in either a four-year high school, which offers an academic university preparatory program; a two to four-year specialist school, which helps prepare students for specialized careers in the country; or vocational training, a 2-3 year program in which students can earn a specific trade.
 
The system of higher education in Serbia is overseen by the National Ministry of Education and Sport, and consists of university education—carried out at institutions called faculties and art academies—and non-university education, where courses of study are no less than two years and no more than three years in duration.  The faculties in Serbia primarily offer studies in major academic fields, leading to both undergraduate degrees (basic studies and specialized studies) and graduate-level degrees (Magisterial, or Master-level Degrees and Doctorate-level degrees).  Programs in basic studies typically last between four to six academic years, while those leading to specialized degrees usually take an additional 1-2 years to complete.  At the graduate level, the magisterial programs typically span 2 years, with doctorate-level degrees typically taking 3 additional years to complete.  While instruction is the main function of Serbian faculties, theoretical and applied research is a prominent component in the doctorate-level programs.
 
Non-university higher education in Serbia is conducted at post-secondary higher schools.  These institutions offer vocationally-based programs leading to diplomas in technical subjects, paramedical sciences and many other career-related fields.  Those who complete these 2-3 year programs are given a professional title, such as senior medical technician, transport engineer, senior physiotherapist, etc.
 
The higher education system in Montenegro is overseen by the Ministry of Science, and includes one major public university that comprises 15 faculties, 48 programs of study and 4 research institutes.  In 2004, the first private university was opened in Montenegro, and since that time two more have been added.  Academic programs in most major disciplines are offered at both the public and private level.  In October, 2003, in accordance with the Bologna Declaration, the university and private institutions in Montenegro adopted the standardized credit and 3-stage degree system now in place in most countries throughout Europe.  Under this program, which aims to facilitate student transfer between European universities, programs of study can lead to first, second and third-level degrees, also called Bachelor, Master’s and PhD degrees.
 
Teacher education is also offered in Serbia at various faculties dedicated to these types of studies.  Participants at these faculties can choose between programs leading to pre-school, primary school or secondary school teaching positions.  Instructors for higher education are generally recruited from the doctorate-level programs at academic faculties.

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