The 2019 Information Security Law No.77 defines information and communication technologies (ICT) as “a technological and organizational unit that includes electronic communication networks in the sense of the law governing electronic communications; devices or groups of interconnected devices, such that within the device, that is, within at least one of the group of devices, automatic data processing is performed using a computer program; the organizational structure through which the ICT system is managed; all types of system and application software and software development tools”.
The 2018 Basics of the Education System Law (Zakon o оsnovama sistema obrazovanja i vaspitanja) defines “digital competence” as “confident and critical use of information and communication technologies". It also refers to the term “Educational Technology” and “assistive technology in education”.
The 2021-2030 National Education Development Strategy refers to “online learning”, “e-learning”, “hybrid learning”, and “distance education”.
The 2023 Strategy for the Development of New Generation Networks defines “Information and communication technologies” as “access and processing of information through electronic communications” and “Communication technologies” include all types of networks and services of electronic communications, as well as networks for the distribution of media content. It also defines “digital skills” as “Digital skills represent the ability to use information and communication technologies and develop people's competencies, from finding information on the Internet, sharing information, to creating digital content. Digital competences are a right, but also a prerequisite for citizens to function in modern society.”
The 2020-2024 Development Strategy of Digital Skills defines “digital skills” as the appropriate knowledge, skills, and behaviour required to meet the needs of individuals and society in the fast-paced technological environment of the 21st century.
The website of the Ministry of Education defines “Online Teaching” as “a type of education that is exclusively realized through digital technologies and the Internet in which the teacher and students do not go to school” and it also defines “Hybrid teaching” as “a flexible approach to the organization of teaching that involves combining direct work at school and online teaching”.
Constitution and laws: The 2006 Constitution refers to scientific and technological development in a general sense (article 97) and affirms the right to free and compulsory education (article 71), but no information was found on educational technology.
Article 8 of the 2018 Basics of the Education System Law states that one of the basics of education is to develop “competencies for coping and active participation in the changing modern society” and “modern science and technology” skills. The law also allows for the possibility of distance learning and hybrid teaching (Article 89), which combines in-person and online instruction as noted by the 2021-2030 National Education Development Strategy.
In order to modernize the digital education system, a law has been proposed to amend the existing Law on the Fundamentals of the Education System. This amendment, implemented in early 2019, introduces the establishment of the Educational Technology Centre as a new organizational unit within the Institute for the Evaluation of the Quality of Education.
Policies, plans and strategies: The 2021-2030 National Education Development Strategy emphasizes digital education and includes goals such as implementing a unified education information system, upgrading technology infrastructure, enhancing schools' abilities to plan and implement digital transformations, increasing students' digital skills through innovative teaching methods, developing teachers' digital and pedagogical competencies, and improving evaluation and monitoring systems for digital education.
The Strategy of Digital Skills Development in the Republic of Serbia 2020-2024 and the Action Plan for the implementation of the Digital Skills Development Strategy in the Republic of Serbia for the period from 2020 to 2024, in the period from 2023 to 2024 aims to enhance all citizens' digital knowledge and skills, including vulnerable groups. Its objective is to ensure that the country stays updated with ICT advancements in all sectors and meets the demands of businesses and the labor market. The strategy's objectives include improving digital competencies within the education system, enhancing basic and advanced digital skills for all citizens, developing digital skills aligned with the labor market requirements, and promoting lifelong learning for ICT experts.
The Information Society and Information Security Development Strategy of the Republic of Serbia for the period 2021-2026 aims to foster an information society and eGovernment that meet the needs of citizens and businesses, while also improving information security for the general public, public administration, and businesses. The policy includes the provision of school furnishings as one of its specific objectives for basic education. Furthermore, it aligns with the Strategy of Digital Skills Development in the Republic of Serbia for the period 2020-2024 by taking into account indicators relating to student digital competence growth.
The 2020-2024 Development Strategy of Digital Skills is a national strategic programme aimed at improving the quality of life of citizens through the development of digital skills. It highlights the importance of digital skills to employment, productivity, creativity, and success, as well as information security and network security. The programme aims to promote the use of digital devices, data usage, and cybersecurity and develop digital skills across all sectors of society.
The 2020-2027 Smart Specialization Strategy was created to further social and economic development and identified priority areas in which further investment is necessary, namely: information communication technologies and education oriented towards innovation and entrepreneurship.
Digital competency frameworks: The national 2019 Framework of Digital Competences of Teachers - Teacher for the Digital Age provides a clear understanding of the digital skills required for teaching in the education system. It includes 24 specific competencies divided into 6 categories. The adoption of the Digital Competence Framework enables systematic training of teachers in media literacy. The framework defines the skills, goals, and expected outcomes for digital competences in teaching. Teachers can assess their skills, reflect on their practice, and plan their professional development using the framework. Trainers can improve programme quality and relevance, and decision-makers can assess regulations and create support programs based on the framework.
Changes occurred as a result of COVID-19: On March 2020, the suspension of regular school classes and measures taken by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development on alternative methods of teaching for primary and secondary school students through multimedia content, during the state of emergency, which are broadcast on the channels of the RTS public service, for students attending classes in the Serbian language, according to the same model, Matica bošnjačka and Sandžak Television signed an agreement with the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development on the implementation of classes in the Bosnian language at a distance for elementary school students and secondary schools.
2.2.1. Technology infrastructure and digital capacity of schools
Electricity: The 2014 Energy Act (as amended in 2023) reflects the government's commitment to promoting sustainable and efficient energy usage, reducing carbon emissions, and diversifying the energy mix. It encompasses various aspects related to energy generation from renewable sources, energy efficiency measures, grid infrastructure, energy market regulations, and consumer rights and protections, but does not include information on the provision of electricity or energy efficiency in schools.
Computers and devices: The 2014–2018 Report on Digital Inclusion in the Republic of Serbia states that schools received computers, and network equipment through the Serbian Academic Network (AMRES). To enhance the learning environment, two thousand digital classrooms were established. The installation of wireless local computer networks in schools commenced in early 2019. This pilot project encompassed 33 primary and secondary schools across Serbia. As per the outlined plan, the project aimed to provide these schools with local computer networks and closed-circuit video surveillance systems.
Internet connectivity: Article 55 of the 2010 Electronic Communications Law establishes that the provision of basic universal service includes access to the public communication network and telephone services that are available to the public, as well as data transfer services that allow for effective use of the internet.
The 2021-2030 National Education Development Strategy states that the government has established the Public Information and Communication Agency known as the "Academic Network of the Republic of Serbia (AMRES)" to construct, develop, and manage the educational and scientific research computer network in Serbia. This network provides access to the internet and IT services for users, as well as connections to national and international networks. AMRES is a vital resource for scientific research and educational work and plays a crucial role in the development of an information society.
The Strategy for the Development of the Information Society in the Republic of Serbia for the period 2021-2026 aims to improve the digital infrastructure in educational institutions. This includes the "Connected Schools" project, which provides primary and secondary schools with Internet access
The 2014–2018 Report on Digital Inclusion in the Republic of Serbia mentions that in early 2017, an initiative was launched to address the digital divide and enhance connectivity in rural regions of Serbia. This endeavor aimed to introduce a wireless Wi-Fi network in schools located in rural areas. The project is a collaborative effort involving the Ministry of Trade, Tourism, and Telecommunications, the Ministry of Education, Science, and Technological Development, as well as Microsoft. Initially, the project focused on establishing infrastructure in four specific locations: Bač primary school, and secondary schools in Novi Pazar, Raška, and Požega. The subsequent phases of the plan entailed extending the installation of equipment to all remaining schools by mid-2017. This implementation facilitated the utilization of the Microsoft Office 365 service for educational purposes, thereby improving the teaching and learning experiences for both teachers and students in the selected schools.
The 2023 Strategy for the Development of New Generation Networks aims to strengthen the backbone of the broadband network by consolidating the state-owned infrastructure and emphasising the development of broadband access networks through different means. This includes implementing a law on broadband access to simplify infrastructure construction, reduce costs for operators, promote the shared use of existing infrastructure, and streamline the process of obtaining construction permits. It also highlights the importance of enhancing internet safety mechanisms and improving ICT education at all levels. Lastly, the strategy involves formulating a comprehensive plan for the development of the Broadband Access Network.
2.2.2. Technology and learning environments
The 2014–2018 Report on Digital Inclusion in the Republic of Serbia states that significant advancements were achieved in the field of education between 2014 and 2018 due to substantial regulatory modifications. These changes included amending umbrella laws to facilitate the development of digital and adapted textbooks, as well as expanding the use of digital tools in teaching. It also mentions that distance learning in Serbia is gaining traction, although specific legislation for quality assurance is still pending. The Moodle platform serves as a key tool, enabling access to shared resources and facilitating educational material exchange “The national teaching
community is very active in the use and promotion of this tool within the Moodle Serbia network”. The "Education for All" website, powered by the Abacus Centre, offers teachers free access to the platform and is utilized by 78 schools. The Dr Dragan Hercog Primary School in Belgrade utilizes Skype for video communication in distance learning, catering to students in hospitals and those with disabilities. Milan Petrović school developed the "Milanče" distance learning system on Moodle, offering diverse subjects for primary and secondary education. These initiatives exemplify Serbia's commitment to inclusive and innovative education
In 2017, the Ministry collaborated with the Institute for the Evaluation of the Quality of Education to launch an innovative project called "Selfie". This initiative aimed to evaluate the electronic maturity of educational institutions and was inspired by the European Framework for Digitally Competent Educational Institutions. Notably, Serbia proudly stood among the 14 countries actively participating in this programme. The primary goal of "Selfie" was to provide valuable support to schools, empowering them to seamlessly integrate digital technologies into their educational practices. By doing so, the programme aimed to enhance the overall effectiveness and efficiency of these institutions.
In addition to that, a part of the Ministry of Education, Science, and Technological Development's e-Education pilot project in 2017, the Electronic School Register (es-Register) was launched. The es-Register serves as an electronic record of a student's academic progress, attendance, and grades. Its primary purpose is to provide teachers, professors, and parents with convenient access to this information.
Interventions to support remote learning during the pandemic include the 2020-2021 Professional instructions for organizing and implementing direct and distance learning classes for secondary schools and the following platforms were created: The YouTube channel “Nastava na daljinu”, the "Distance Learning" platform, which broadcasts educational content in Bosnian language on the Sandzak TV channel; the MOE Portal which offers supplementary materials and assessments for students; and RTS and RTS Planet channels, which air classes aligned with the national curriculum on specific subjects.
The 2023 Strategy for the Development of New Generation Networks aims to implement up-to-date education and training systems that equip young people with crucial competencies in the digital realm. Primarily, this involves updating teaching content, enhancing the competence of educators, providing adequate ICT infrastructure in educational institutions, and fostering a strong partnership between the industry and the education system is vital.
Article 9 of the 2018 Basics of the Education System Law states that after students complete their education, they should have the ability to use scientific and technological knowledge and digital technologies in a responsible, safe and critical way.
The Strategy of Digital Skills Development in the Republic of Serbia 2020-2024 integrates digital skills in the educational system and incorporates basic digital competencies, programming, and computer-based problem-solving into curricula.
The 2014–2018 Report on Digital Inclusion in the Republic of Serbia refers to the states that since 2017, Computer Science became a mandatory subject for 5th grade students in Serbia. The subject covers three themes: information-communication technology, digital literacy, and computer science. In the sixth grade, Computer Science is optional and includes programming. The Petlja Foundation, in collaboration with Microsoft, provided programming training courses for 800 teachers from 500 schools. The foundation is also involved in the "Digital Serbia" initiative, focusing on algorithm literacy in primary and secondary schools.
The website of the Ministry of Education mentions that in preschool education, the "Bee-bot" robot is integrated as part of a three-year project that is aimed at teaching children to interact with digital technology in a responsible manner by solving age-appropriate problem-solving situations. In primary education, a programme was included to teach Informatics as a compulsory subject for students starting at the age of 11 so they can learn to programme using visual and textual languages, understand online safety, and develop their digital identities to acquire essential competencies for living in a digital society. To support this education, the government has initiated a project to equip IT classrooms with computers. This is a five-year cycle of providing computers to primary and secondary schools, which will be repeated continuously. First and second-grade students are studying the new subject of the “Digital World”, with plans for further development of the curriculum for third and fourth-grade students. High schools have formed specialized classes for students with a particular aptitude for computer science. Additionally, other high school students have the option of choosing from six cross-disciplinary courses that aim to put knowledge into practice and enhance digital skills.
The Institute for the Evaluation of the Quality of Education and Training has developed training programmes based on the 2019 Framework of Digital Competences of Teachers to help primary and secondary school teachers achieve basic and advanced levels of digital competencies.
The Centre for Professional Development of Education Staff within the Institute for the Improvement of Education and Training and Training provides initial and in-service training on digital skills for teachers under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development such as the “Online and hybrid teaching in a digitally competent institution”.
The 2020-2024 Development Strategy of Digital Skills includes a programme for the development of digital competencies for teachers, focusing on the development of critical thinking skills and promoting independent research. To ensure that educators are well-equipped to teach digital skills, the plan proposes training in ICT infrastructure and the development of digital skills, targeting both teachers and students. The Serbian government recognizes the essential role that schools and teachers play in promoting digital literacy and aims to provide a conducive environment for teachers to develop their digital competencies, enabling them to incorporate digital skills into their teaching methods.
The 2023 Strategy for the Development of New Generation Networks states that the Law on Information Security and the Strategy for the Development of Information Security in the Republic of Serbia establish regulations and measures to protect information and communication systems from security risks. The legislation outlines responsibilities for managing and using these systems, designates competent authorities for implementing protective measures, and emphasizes the need for coordination and monitoring to ensure compliance with security protocols. A significant aspect of the Law is the creation of the National Center for the Prevention and Protection of Security Risks in Information and Communication Systems, also known as the National CERT. The National CERT monitors incidents, issues risk and incident reports, responds to reported incidents, conducts thorough analyses, and raises public awareness about information security. International collaboration among National CERTs is crucial due to the cross-border nature of information and communication system incidents.
2.4.1. Data privacy
The 2018 Data Protection Law “This law ensures the protection of the basic rights and freedoms of natural persons, especially their right to the protection of personal data” and it is supported by additional decrees and rulebooks. Though no information on data privacy in the school context was found.
The Republic of Serbia initially regulated children's information security through the Decree on the Safety and Protection of Children When Using Information and Communication Technologies, while amendments and supplements to the Law on Information Security expanded its application to include this subject matter.
The National Contact Centre for Online Safety for Children is primarily responsible for developing awareness on ways to use the Internet securely.
2.4.2. Online abuse and cyberbullying
The 2019 Information Security Law No.77 is Serbia's comprehensive cybersecurity law but does not refer to cybercrime, cyberbullying, or online abuse.
Within the context of educational institutions, article 111 of the 2018 Basics of the Education System Law states that the use of any form of violence, including physical, psychological, social, sexual, digital or any other form, towards an employee, student, adult, parent or other legal representative or third party within the institution is strictly prohibited. Digital violence, in this context, refers to the misuse of technology, such as sending harmful messages through email, SMS, social media, or other digital platforms, that can cause harm or threaten a person's dignity. The institution is required to report any incidents of violence, abuse, or neglect committed by parents or other parties within the institution to the relevant authority. Protocols for addressing such incidents, including preventative measures, intervention methods, risk assessment procedures, and protective measures, are outlined by the minister.
Article 83 of the 2018 Basics of the Education System Law prohibits students from using electronic devices to threaten the rights of others.
The Decree on Safety and Protection of Children when Using Information and Communication Technologies aims to raise awareness and knowledge of the advantages and risks of using the Internet and ways of using the Internet safely, to improve the digital literacy of children/pupils, parents and teachers and to enhance cross-departmental cooperation in the field of online safety and protection of children. The Law on Information Security and Decree provides measures for online safety and child protection, which are carried out through the activities of the National Contact Centre for Online Safety for Children.
The primary objective of the 2020 Regulation on the Safety and Protection of Children No.13 in utilizing information and communication technologies is to heighten awareness and understanding of the benefits and risks associated with Internet usage, as well as promote safe Internet practices. Furthermore, the regulation seeks to enhance the digital literacy of children, students, parents, and teachers, while fostering interdepartmental collaboration in safeguarding children online.
During COVID-19, the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development requested that teachers and professionals in schools pay attention to “digital violence” and inappropriate behaviour of students on e-learning platforms “If the school has knowledge of digital violence between students that continues even though informing parents and/or represents a special risk for students exposed to violence is necessary
to submit a report to the competent Ministry of Internal Affairs and report it to the competent authority
The Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development is responsible for overseeing educational institutions. It has a Department for Digitalisation in Education and Science that has been working to facilitate the digitalisation of primary and secondary schools.
In addition to that, as mentioned in article 46a of the 2018 Basics of the Education System Law, the “Center for Educational Technology”, under the authority of the national Institute for the Evaluation of the Quality of Education and Training, is responsible for participating in the planning and development of digital education at the national level, creating and publishing educational policy instruments, developing and implementing training programs in the field of digital education, providing professional support and developing databases of digital educational content, analyzing the impact of technology on education and assisting with evaluations and monitoring of digital education, as well as preparing reports and publications in the field of digital education.
The Centre for Professional Development of Education Staff within the Institute for the Improvement of Education and Training provides training on digital skills for teachers under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Education.
The Educational Technology Centre as a new organizational unit within the Institute for the Evaluation of the Quality of Education, concentrates on the development of high-quality digital education. Specifically, it will play a crucial role in planning and strategizing the integration of digital components into various national-level plans, including general and specific strategic, development, and action plans. By creating the Educational Technology Centre, the aim is to enhance the overall quality and effectiveness of digital education, paving the way for a more advanced and inclusive education system that aligns with the needs of the digital era.
The National Contact Centre for Online Safety for Children is responsible for prevention and developing awareness and understanding about the benefits and risks of using the Internet, as well as ways to use the Internet securely. Preventive measures for online safety and protection of children are implemented by the National Contact Centre through education and information provision to children, parents, and teachers, as well as in collaboration with the competent authorities and institutions, schools, the media, civil and private sectors, academia, prominent individuals in modern art and creative industries, and other stakeholders.
Article 83 of the 2018 Basics of the Education System Law addresses “student responsibility” in which students may be held accountable for minor infractions of school policies outlined in the institution's governing document, as well as more severe breaches of regulations outlined by this law at the time of occurrence. These violations can include the misuse of electronic devices, such as mobile phones, to cheat during assessment procedures.