Education in Lithuania

Education in Lithuania
Ministry of Education and Science
Minister of Education and Science Audronė Pitrėnienė
National education budget (2008)
Budget 1,28 billion LTL
General details
Primary languages Lithuanian
System type National
Literacy (2004)
Total 100%
Male 100%
Female 100%
Total 748378
Primary 90552
Secondary 514622
Post secondary 143204

Education is free of charge and compulsory from the age of 6 or 7 to 16 years(covering "primary" and "basic" education), as stated in the national Law on Education.[2] In 1996, the gross primary enrollment rate was 98 percent.[2] Primary school attendance rates were unavailable for Lithuania as of 2001.[2] While enrollments rates indicate a level of commitment to education, they do not always reflect children’s participation in school.[2]

Pre-tertiary education is organized in 4 main cycles: Pre-school education (until age 5 or 6), Pre-primary education(1 year, between age 5-7), primary education(4 years, between age 6-11), basic education (6 years, between age 10-17, ends on a "basic education certificate"), upper secondary education(two years, between age 16-19).[3] Upper secondary education ends on the "matura" examination, opening gates to tertiary education.[3] Vocational and technical education starts at the fifth year of basic education (age 14-15).[4] Its structure is similar to comprehensive education: The program lasts two to three years before the "basic education certificate". Students can then pursue into vocational upper secondary education, that also leads, after two or three years, to a "matura" examination.[4] However, in order to reach tertiary education (university or college), vocational students have to follow an extra "post-secondary" education program of 2 years.

Tertiary education can be divided into university and college.[3] Universities offer an academic education leading to international Bachelor-Master-Phd degrees(Lithuania has implemented the Bologna process in 2006).[3] Colleges offer vocational Education. Since 2006, they can award professional Bachelor degrees.[4]

The school year in Lithuania usually starts on the first of September, including in tertiary education.[5]

Pre-school and pre-primary education

Pre-school education under the pre-school education programme is provided to children from 1 to 6 years old. Institutional pre-school education is not compulsory and is provided upon parents' request. This kind of education can be compulsory in individual cases (to children from social risk families, etc.). Pre-school education is provided by public and private nurseries-kindergartens, kindergartens, and kindergartens-schools.

Pre-primary education is provided for one year. Education is provided to 6-year-old (in exceptional cases – five-year-old) children and is intended to better prepare children for school entry. Education is free, universally available, but is not compulsory. Parents have the right to decide whether their six-year-old child should be educated under the pre-primary education programme or not.

Pre-primary education groups are established in kindergartens or schools. In remote villages, municipalities can establish such groups in community multi-functional centres or children can be brought by school buses free of charge to the nearest school, where such group has been established. The following flexible pre-primary group models are offered to municipalities: groups working a few days per week, at weekends, or during school holidays, groups of a camp type, etc.

Children attending pre-primary groups learn new skills which will be useful in school: to interact with age-mates and stranger adults and orient themselves in a new environment. The following competencies are mostly developed through games: social, health protection, world recognition, and artistic.

If a child is educated at home, his/her parents are informed about pre-primary education novelties and consulted on important child's education issues. Upon parents’ request, children can be provided with special pedagogic and psychological assistance.

Primary education

According to the Law on Education, children who have reached 7 years of age must go to the 1st form. If parents wish so and if the child is sufficiently mature to study under the primary education programme, he/she can start attending school from 6 years of age. The duration of the primary education programme is 4 years. Compulsory primary education can be obtained in kindergartens-schools, in primary schools and, which is less common, in basic or secondary schools.

Parents and children can also choose non-traditional education schools or individual classes/groups in municipal schools. Montessori, Waldorf, Suzuki pedagogical systems can be chosen in Lithuania.

Achievements and progress of 1-4 form pupils is not assessed with marks. Assessment is based on the idiographic principle, i.e. individual child’s progress made with regard to his/her personality is assessed and a criteria-referenced assessment is applied. Pupils are provided with assessment information orally or in form of a short description of their particular achievements. In the end of the trimester, semester or academic year, a summarized assessment is carried out by indicating the educational level achieved (satisfactory, basic, higher).

Children who attend schools for national minorities start learning Lithuanian (state language) from the 1st form. Most primary school pupils start learning the first foreign language in the 2nd form(some start from 1st form, depending on the school).

Secondary education

Foundation education

Upon completion of primary education, pupils start studying under the 6-year basic education programme. The foundation education programme is implemented by foundation (similar to pre-A-level schools in the UK), secondary and vocational schools and gymnasiums.

The compulsory foundation education programme consists of two parts: part I – a 4-year programme implemented in the 5-8th forms and part II – a 2-year programme implemented in the 9-10th forms (forms 1-2 in gymnasiums). Pupils can start learning the second foreign language in the 5th form and in the 6th form the second foreign language is compulsory. Pupils who study under the foundation education programme are to be encouraged to be engaged in various social activities, e.g. volunteering, organising events, raising funds for charity.

In form 10 (form 2 in gymnasiums), pupils are able to choose subject modules and study optional subjects following their bent and abilities.

Foreign pupils who can’t speak Lithuanian but wish to study in Lithuanian schools have the option to study for one extra year during which they have integration activities and language lessons.

In Lithuania, education is compulsory for children under 16. Compulsory education is usually provided up to the 10th form. Upon completion of the 10th form pupils can choose to undergo an Assessment of Foundation Education test. During these examinations, 2 to 3 subject skills are assessed: Lithuanian language, Mathematics and native language if it is not Lithuanian (e.g. Polish, Russian). After passing the exams, pupils can choose to study in a secondary school that focuses on academics, or undergo vocational training.

Grading System in Lithuania

Usual grading system at Secondary School Level is ten-point scale.

Result Grade Short description in Lithuanian Short description in English
Pass 10 Puikiai excellent
9 Labai gerai very good
8 Gerai good
7 Pakankamai gerai good enough
6 Patenkinamai satisfactory
5 Pakankamai patenkinamai satisfactory enough
4 Silpnai weak
Fail 3 Blogai bad
2 Labai blogai very bad
1 Nieko neatsakė, neatliko užduoties nothing answered, task was not completed

Secondary education is not compulsory and is usually provided for two years (forms 11 and 12 in secondary schools and forms 3 and 4 in gymnasiums). Pupils study according to individual education plans. The programme can include modules of the vocational training programme. Secondary education is provided in secondary schools, gymnasiums, and vocational schools.

Pupils can also choose education which mostly corresponds to their values, world outlook, religious beliefs, and philosophical views. Such education is provided in non-traditional education schools. Non-traditional education schools may operate according to their own programmes, but the total number of subjects and the total number of hours allocated for each subject in forms 1-12 can differ from the numbers specified in the state general education plans by not more than 25 percent.

Maturity examinations

In spring, upon completion of the secondary education programme, school-leavers take maturity examinations. Matura examinations may be of two types, i.e. school-level or national-level. To be awarded a Maturity Certificate, two maturity examinations must be passed: a compulsory exam in Lithuanian and one more optional exam. School-leavers who wish to enter higher education schools and receive state funding (except for studies of Arts), must pass at least 3 maturity examinations. In total, 6 maturity exams may be taken.

State examinations are conducted centrally — pupils of the graduation forms are registered in the database of the National Examination Centre; examinations are taken in municipal examinations centres; examination papers are encoded and sent to the National Examination Centre where they are assessed by hired experts.

Having completed the secondary education programme and passed maturity examinations, school-levers obtain secondary education.

Secondary and higher education obtained in other countries is assessed by the Lithuanian Centre for Quality Assessment in Higher Education.


Education of pupils in general education schools is financed through a state budget target grant under the principle of the pupil’s voucher. Every year, the state allocates, by taking into account the number of pupils, a special target grant to municipalities. The pupil’s voucher is allocated both for public and private schools. When moving to another school, a pupil takes his voucher with him. The pupil‘s voucher includes money for teachers‘ salaries, improvement of teachers‘ skills, textbooks, instructional aids, special psychological aid, cognitive activities of pupils, professional guidance, modules of professional artistic education programmes, administration, execution, assessment of maturity examinations, etc.

Utility expenses of private schools are covered by their stakeholders. Funds for schools of traditional religious communities are allocated by the state under the Agreement between the Republic of Lithuania and the Holy See.

Non-formal education

After classes, pupils can choose various leisure activities provided in schools free of charge or attend separate sports, music, fine arts, art, aviation, and choreography schools, and children’s clubs. The latter activities are partially paid; professional artists, sportsmen, and teachers work with children.

In schools, pupils can be excused from attending weekly classes in Arts and Physical Training, if they have graduated from schools of art or study Fine Arts, Choreography, or Music in schools of art or non-formal education establishments specializing in sports. The long-term artistic education programme completed in children’s music, art, and sports schools or any other school can be recognized as a vocational education module.

Special education

Special education is provided in pre-school education establishments and general education schools of all types. If needed, general education programmes can be adapted taking into account pupil’s special education needs. Free assistance of special pedagogues, speech therapists, psychologists, and other specialists can be provided to pupils in schools as well as to parents and teachers in other institutions. A child’s need for special education is determined by a municipal pedagogical psychological unit or by a school special education commission.

Vocational training and life long learning

Vocational training

The vocational education system covers initial and continuing vocational education and training

Initial Vocational Education and Training (IVET) can start at the age 14 (fifth year of Basic education).[4] The duration of the first programmes can be either two or three years depending on the level of the audience. The duration of studies for students who have already obtained secondary education is 1 to 1.5 years. It grants a certificate of basic education. The student can then pursue into vocational upper secondary education, that also lasts 2 or 3 years and ends on a "matura" examination.[4] In order to join tertiary education (university or college), vocational students have to follow an extra "post-secondary education" program (1 or 2 years).[4]

The training programme consists of two parts. The first part is common to all schools in the country and defines fields of professional activities, competencies, teaching goals, and assessment provisions. The second part is optional and covers teaching methods, subject programmes, teaching aids, etc. The programme must include the subjects or modules of Entrepreneurship, Civil Protection, Ecology, Information Technologies, and Foreign Language for Specific Purposes. 60-70 percent of the total time allocated to vocational subjects should be devoted to practical training. Usually, practical training is conducted at the school or in a company. Training can also be performed under exchange programmes.

Initial vocational training is financed through the state budget. Vocational training providers receive financing by applying the methodology of the pupil’s voucher, i.e. calculation of teaching funds per pupil. The same principle is applied when allocating utility funds. Most of vocational school pupils receive grants. Continuing education is usually conducted through the funds of companies, institutions, the Employment Fund, other funds, or personal funds of pupils. Requirements for vocational training programmes are set out by the General Requirements and Standards for Vocational Training of the Ministry of Education and Science. Vocational training programmes are developed by vocational training providers in cooperation with employers.

Continuing Vocational Education and Training (CVET) targets learners older than 18. It consists of programmes, usually short (a year or less), mainly dedicated to practical training (60 to 80% of the programme).[4] They can lead to a vocational qualification, to an additional vocational qualification, or to a competence to perform jobs or functions regulated by law.[4]

Adult education

Once students have reached 18 years of age, they are offered a variety of opportunities for further education. It is possible to continue one’s education in general education schools and centres for adults, by taking various courses or just using the Internet, reading books, or being interested in special literature.

Adults can obtain primary, basic or secondary education in adult schools, education centres, and general education schools with forms established for adults. General education of adults is organised by approx. 60 institutions in all municipalities of the country, which number about 12 thousand adults. These schools also provide non-formal adult education services.

The scope and subjects of study programmes for adults are adapted according to the needs. Adults who study under general education and non-formal education programmes can choose a flexible learning form that is most suitable for them — modular education, independent education, extramural education, or distance education. These forms allow adults choosing suitable time for their studies and a study programme, as well as planning their learning process on their own.

The modular learning method creates opportunities to study single subjects and complete the selected education programme within acceptable time frames as well as study for the purposes of self-education. Extramural students arrive to the adult school only for consultations and to take credit tests. Part of consultations under the correspondence and individual programmes (and all consultations for disabled people) can be provided distantly, by communicating with teachers with the help of information communication technologies — Internet sites, e-mail, or Internet Telephony Programs.

Adults study not only in order to obtain formal education, but also for self-expression, improvement of their skills, or communication with other people. On non-formal adult education courses and seminars adults tend mostly like to study foreign languages, Basics of Law and Business, Psychology, Computer Literacy as well as Arts, Literature, and Philosophy. Improvement of competencies in citizenship, traffic safety, and career management is also important. Non-formal adult education is organized by approx. 700 public and private institutions. Adult learning also takes place in the workplace and is organized by the employers taking into account their business demands.

Improvement of teacher's skills

During an academic year, teachers shall allocate 5 days for improvement of their skills. Every municipality has a teacher education centre, in which teachers can improve their qualification. These services are also provided by various private institutions.

There is a system implemented for the appraisal of teachers. The Regulations of the Appraisal of Teachers specify four teacher qualification categories: teacher, senior teacher, teacher-supervisor, and teacher-expert. Teachers or specialists in assisting the student can undergo appraisal at their own choice and in accordance with the procedure established in the Regulations, and pursue acquisition of any qualification category in one or several subjects (education fields, vocational training programmes).

Since 2010, students who enter pedagogical studies shall take a motivation test. The motivation test allows selecting the mostly motivated students. Future pedagogues with the best achievements receive an incentive – an additional target grant.


  1. Lithuanian Departament of Statistics
  2. 1 2 3 4 "Lithuania". Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor (2001). Bureau of International Labor Affairs, U.S. Department of Labor (2002). This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  3. 1 2 3 4 "World Data on Education: Lithuania" (PDF). UNESCO-IBE. 2011. Retrieved 24 June 2014.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 "Vocational Education in Lithuania". UNESCO-UNEVOC. January 2014. Retrieved 24 June 2014.
  5. "Education in Lithuania" (PDF). Ministry of Education and Science of the republic of Lithuania. 2004. Retrieved 24 June 2014.

External links

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