In Lithuania, early childhood education and care (ECEC) provision is divided into two parts. The first part is non-obligatory pre-school education (as an exception, in accordance with the procedure (tvarka) established by the Minister of Education, Science and Sport and the Minister of Social Security and Labor, pre-school education may be compulsory for a child). The pre-school education is designed for children from birth until they begin attending pre-primary education programme (at around 6 years). The second part of ECEC provision is compulsory year of pre-primary education. Children must start pre-primary education in the calendar year that they turn 6. Parents can opt to send their children to pre-primary education a year earlier, but not before they are 5 years old. Pre-primary education lasts for one year and aims to prepare children for primary education.
State and municipal kindergartens, and private ECEC settings provide pre-school education. In addition to those already mentioned, different kind of general education schools can provide pre-primary education. Publicly regulated ECEC cannot be provided in a provider’s home.
Educational guidelines apply for all type of settings during the whole pre-school phase. However, the pre-school education providers are free to design their own curriculum, while there is a nationally approved detailed programme for the compulsory last year of pre-primary education.
State level provides recommendations on what a pre-school education curriculum should look like: the Outline of Criteria for Pre-school Education Curricula (Ikimokyklinio ugdymo programų kriterijų aprašas),Description of the Achievements of Pre-school Age Children (Ikimokyklinio amžiaus vaikų pasiekimų aprašas), Pre-school Education Methodological Recommendations (Ikimokyklinio ugdymo metodinės rekomendacijos).
Pre-primary education takes place in accordance with the General Curriculum Framework for Pre-primary Education (Priešmokyklinio ugdymo bendrąja programa).
Pre-school education from birth up to and including 2 years is classified as ISCED level 010. Pre-school education from the age of 3 and pre-primary education are classified as ISCED level 020.
Each family has the right to choose which kind of institution – state, municipality or private – they wish their child to attend.
As pre-primary education is compulsory, every child (from around age 6) is guaranteed a place in a state or municipal educational institution.