Basic and compulsory education (elementary school) provides a wide all-round education lasting eight years, which has developed from education systems that used to last 4, 5, 6, or 7 years.
Basic education is organised in two 4-year-long stages: one-teacher education (only one teacher does all the teaching) and subject teaching (the teaching is done by several teachers, their number depending on the number of subjects). Basic education is carried out in educational institutions (schools) which are special administrative units. An elementary school may be comprised of one or more branch schools; these are mostly 4-grade schools for first to fourth grade pupils, mainly in the so-called mixed-class departments, but there are 8- grade branch schools as well.
According to data from the CBS, in the school year 2001/2002, there were 828 elementary schools (central schools) and 1,260 branch schools in the Republic of Croatia. Organisationally, the work of elementary schools is done in one shift (20%), two shifts (73%) and three shifts (7%).