Skip to main content


Development of a Quality Assurance System in Adult Education

In June 2023, the implementation of the ESF project “Development of Quality Assurance System in Adult Education” was completed. The project was carried out by the Agency for VET and Adult Education from January 2019 to June 2023. The final version of the concluding report was approved in September 2023, and the total approved grant amount was EUR 1,446,861.88.

The specific objective of the project was the development of a quality assurance system through the creation of self-assessment and external evaluation models for adult education institutions, aiming to enhance adult education based on relevant research data.

The project implementation was organized through four elements:

1. National Competence Assessment Survey for Adults (PIAAC)

2. Establishment of a quality assurance system in adult education

3. Promotion and visibility

4. Project management and administration.

The key activity under the first element was the implementation of the PIAAC research. The OECD’s Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) is the largest and most innovative large-scale assessment in adult literacy. The purpose of this research is to understand the skills present among the working-age population (16 to 65 years), how they are used at work and in daily life, and how they depend on education and learning experience. The ultimate goal is to improve the education system to ensure equal access to education and to foster skills that contribute to economic growth, productivity, and social well-being.

Countries participating in the PIAAC program use the research results to influence changes in educational policies, employment policies, and work-related matters. This may include reforms in adult education and vocational education and training, the development of higher education strategies, the formulation of adult education literacy strategies, as well as consultation processes related to future work and the improvement of labor productivity.

The Republic of Croatia, along with 32 other countries, joined the PIAAC program in its second cycle, which lasted from 2018 to 2024. The first cycle took place from 2011 to 2019, involving 250,000 individuals in 38 countries. The Ministry of Science and Education appointed the Agency for VET and Adult Education as the national body responsible for conducting PIAAC research in Croatia. The national research coordinator was Nena Rončević, PhD from the University of Rijeka, and data collection (both in the pilot and the main study) was conducted by Ipsos d.o.o. – a market research and public opinion agency.

The research comprises two fundamental parts. In the first part, traditional questionnaires collect data on participants’ socio-demographic characteristics, educational levels, employment status, job features, and the use of information technologies in both work and leisure time. In the second part, participants independently complete exercises in the domains of literacy, numeracy, and problem-solving adaptability (e.g., finding information on websites).

In 2021, a pilot study was successfully conducted from April to August, despite challenging pandemic conditions, involving 1800 participants in Croatia. In September 2022, data collection for the main study began, and the results are expected to be published at the end of 2024.

In July 2022, the Agency formed a Working Group for Strategic Direction and Monitoring of the national PIAAC Adult Competencies Study to further ensure the quality of the main investigation. The members of the working group included prominent experts with relevant competencies and experience in the fields of education and quantitative scientific research, as well as representatives from relevant institutions such as the Ministry of Science and Education and the Ministry of Labor, Pension System, Family, and Social Policy. The tasks of the working group members were to monitor the implementation of the PIAAC study and provide suggestions for the possible application of future research results in shaping public policies.

Data collection for the main study lasted until May 2023, after which data processing and analysis began. The release of the PIAAC research results is planned by the end of 2024.

The central part of activities focused on the development of the quality assurance system in adult education was carried out through the activities of the second element. The foundation for the implementation of all other activities was an analysis of the current state and the collection of data on best practices in quality assurance in adult education. This included the creation of expert analyses where the best relevant experiences from other countries and quality assurance systems were gathered. The development of the new quality assurance model in the adult education system was largely conducted through the work of a professional working group, where experts in quality assurance and adult education, along with representatives from the Agency for Vocational Education and Adult Education, devised the initial draft of the new model.

Key procedures and processes, as well as standards and quality areas, were defined. The next step involved piloting the model, an activity carried out in partnership and collaboration with 25 adult education institutions. The institutions were selected for their representativeness, with the intention of ensuring that these institutions, as much as possible, maintain the Croatian adult education system. The pilot process began with self-assessment, allowing institutions to test and implement this form of quality assurance over several months, including the creation of initial self-assessment reports.

Based on collected feedback and an analysis of the pilot process, the final version of the self-assessment model was developed, and its implementation began at the system level for adult education. Preparation for piloting the external evaluation model followed, including the creation of implementation documents and the education of all involved in the process. The selection and education of 30 experts who were members of the evaluation commission for external evaluation of adult education institutions were particularly important in this project. With the completion of the pilot process, the groundwork was laid for the regular implementation of this quality assurance aspect at the system level for adult education.

Throughout the project, numerous capacity-building activities for adult education institutions were conducted, including 55 training sessions involving representatives from 250 institutions. Additionally, 84 meetings and advisory visits on quality assurance were organized. Various materials were developed to provide relevant information and support to all stakeholders involved in the quality assurance process in adult education in Croatia.