Place guarantee to ECEC
Pre-school education for children under age 6
Pre-school education is not compulsory and there is no legal guarantee to a place in a pre-school setting. The Law on Education (Švietimo įstatymas) states that the municipality must have an optimal network of ECEC providers. However, in cases where parents sought to prove that their children had a right to have a place in a municipal pre-school setting, the courts stated that municipalities were not obliged to provide every child with a place in its ECEC setting.
Despite no legal right to a place in a state or municipal pre-school setting, municipalities try their best to ensure this. For example, in Vilnius (the capital of Lithuania), parents whose children were not accepted in municipal pre-school setting are reimbursed an education fee of EUR 100 per month. This compensation is for children who go to a private ECEC setting and for children from the age of 2 who are cared for by nannies at home. At the same time, the municipality is expanding its network of pre-school education providers by building modular kindergartens (a specific building that parts are already build before taking it to the kindergarten’s place; the builder brings separate parts (modules) and connects in the construction site) and establishing pre-school groups in general education schools.
The exception. In accordance with the procedure established by the Minister of Education, Science and Sport and the Minister of Social Security and Labour, pre-school education may be compulsory for a child under age 6 in some cases.
Information on the fact that the child should be provided with compulsory pre-school education is collected by those appointed by the municipality.
The child welfare commission of the municipal administration provides recommendations regarding exceptional allocation of compulsory education. Compulsory education is appointed by the director of the municipal administration.
Compulsory pre-school education may be allocated for a child under age 6 in these exceptional situations:
1) a child grows up in a family at social risk and:
- is not educated according to pre-school education curriculum;
- is included in the lists of children of an ECEC setting, but does not attend it for unjustified reasons.
2) a child who is educated at home or should attend ECEC institution, but for unjustified reasons does not attend according to the following criteria:
- the child has been diagnosed with a disability, special educational needs, but the child’s parents (guardians) do not create conditions for meeting the child’s special educational needs;
- the child’s parents (guardians) are experiencing difficulties (lost their job; went abroad; a divorce has taken place or is in progress; are wanted or missing persons; have health problems or other causes) needs.
Compulsory pre-school education can be provided to a child from birth to 6 years (before the child must start attending pre-primary education). Compulsory pre-school education is usually set from 6 months to 1 year. Other periods of compulsory pre-school education may be set.
Compulsory pre-school education for a child is free of charge for child’s parents (guardians). Free meals are also provided. Expenses are covered from the state budget.
Pre-school education for children under age 6
Compulsory pre-primary education takes place in the ECEC last year, i.e. from the calendar year in which the child reaches the age of 6. If the parents wish, the child can start attending the pre-primary education when he/she turns 5 years. Since this curriculum is compulsory, every child is guaranteed a place in a state or municipal institution providing pre-primary education.
The minimum pre-primary education curriculum covers 640 hours (or 4 hours per day, 20 hours per week). The costs of this are financed by the state.
Home-schooling. Home-schooling is not legally established in Lithuania.
Educational and housekeeping funding. During the entire phase of ECEC, the principle of mixed funding is applied. This means that the state allocates funds based on the number and size of children groups in pre-school and pre-primary education as well as certain expenses of each child. The methodology (metodika) is established by the Government. These are, in principle, funds linked with the implementation of education content and are allocated to state, municipal and private ECEC settings.
The housekeeping funds are covered by the owner of the institution. In the case of private ECEC settings, these funds are included in the education and care fee paid by parents (guardians)
In pre-school and pre-primary education, it is calculated that the funds allocated by the state to all types of ECEC settings must cover the education of a child for 20 hours per week. In other words, state offers free ECEC for 20 hours per week. If the child attends for longer than 20 hours per week, parents (guardians) pay for the additional hours. Parents (guardians) also pay for the child’s meals. From 2020–2021, all pre-primaries are provided with a free lunch.
Exemptions. The fees for additional hours of education and meals are set by the institution implementing the rights and obligations of the owner. The owner of the ECEC institution can identify cases where these fees can be reduced or not paid at all. For example, municipalities often set lower fees for disadvantaged families, families with three or more children, etc. The meal fee is usually reduced if the child does not attend the institution for a justifiable reason.
Usually, the parents (guardians) bring children to the ECEC setting. The municipality organizes a ride for rural and small town children who live more than 3 km from the ECEC setting for free. In this case, the municipality ensures the transportation to the ECEC setting that is closest to the child’s home and meets the child’s needs. If the parents want to raise the child in the ECEC setting that is further, they themselves organize the transportation.