The people of Lithuania are highly educated. Nearly the entire population between the ages of 15 to 39 has completed basic schooling. A major overhaul of Lithuanian education practices followed the country's restoration of independence in 1991. The system of primary-secondary-higher education was developed between the two world wars with the Soviets further expanding this to adult education. The Soviets highly politicized philosophy of education was evaluated and replaced. Independent Lithuania no longer adheres to the "Soviet school" philosophy. It now focuses on an ideology based on Lithuanian history and culture. However, the system still utilizes some Soviet organizational methods (U.S. Department of State 1998).
Education between the ages of 7 and 16 is compulsory and free of charge at all levels, as a result of the 1992 Constitution. The three levels of Lithuanian education include: comprehensive (from 7 to 16 years of age), vocational and schools of further education (from 16 to 18), and higher education. Furthering this delineation, there are three types of comprehensive schools: primary (grades 1 to 4), principal (grades 5 to 9), and secondary (grades 10 to 12). There are over 2,000 schools across these levels. Preschool is also available should parents wish to enroll their children.
Schools are located in all cities, towns, and villages. The more remote schools generally begin with first grade and end with fifth or ninth grade. Students are likely to attend a public institution for primary and secondary school, where they are commonly enrolled in art and music courses in addition to their academic schedule. Following secondary education (grade 12), the majority of students go on to vocational schools; the next largest percentage of students attend college-like institutions. The remaining students continue at polytechnical institutions.
Following Lithuania's independence from the Soviet Union, more than 67 percent of Lithuanian students now attend religious classes in general schools. In addition to the religious courses, students also study history, mathematics, science, ethics, Lithuanian, and Lithuanian literature. Foreign language study includes English, German, Russian, French, and Latin for accelerated classes. Foreign language study begins in the fifth grade, with English as the primary language of study.
Teachers now offer a wider variety of subjects and de-emphasize the teaching of Russian history and the Russian language. Teachers are beginning to attend summer workshops, where they can learn new teaching practices (Kudirka 1991).
The academic year runs for 10 months from September through June. There is a summer break from July 1 to September 1. Classes are primarily taught in Lithuanian, although in closed communities of ethnic minorities, the state does provide support for education in the native language. Parents are permitted to choose the school of general education according to its language of instruction (EuroEducation Net 1996) (NAFSA 1991).
Ethnic minorities that do not live in an established closed community are provided with optional classes, as well as Sunday school should they like to improve upon their native language skill. Lithuanian language and literature are taught in all non-Lithuanian educational institutions.
Lithuania has established goals for its educational system. They are as follows:
- To develop mental and physical abilities; to lay firm the foundations of morality and a healthy way of life; and to develop intellect while providing conditions for the further development of individuality
- To offer children both general and professional education corresponding to the current level of science and culture
- To provide the opportunity for the residents of Lithuania to continue their education
- To clarify personal rights and to instill a sense of civic duty to the family, nation, society, and the State of Lithuania, as well as the need to participate in the cultural, social, economic, and political life of the Republic (NAFSA 1991).
Education Encyclopedia - StateUniversity.comGlobal Education ReferenceLithuania - History Background, Constitutional Legal Foundations, Educational System—overview, Preprimary Primary Education, Secondary Education