Fundamental principles established during the restoration of independence of Lithuania (1998-1992)
1988 Concept of National School
Prior to restoration of independence of Lithuania, the first ideas about independent education were set in the Concept of the National School(1988). Lithuania was still the part of the Soviet Union (USSR) when this Concept was created. The creation of the Concept was managed by Doctor Habilitus Meilė Lukšienė, a renowned Lithuanian literary scientist, a cultural historian, member of the reform movement Sąjūdis and initiator of the Lithuanian education reform. Prominent Lithuanian scholars and their ideological leader Prof. Habil. Dr. Meilė Lukšienė invited people, primarily, for cultural change.
“Culture is like the second human nature. <...> It is the interaction between the individual and his own culture that lies at the bottom of the national school concept."
The Concept states that
"It is particularly important to develop pupils’ attitude of being flexible and creative both in their thoughts and deeds. They should be ready to accept the idea that life is changing fast. <...> On leaving the general education school, young people must take away a deeply-rooted understanding of what is essential and stable both in the human being and the nation and what can change and, if so, to what extent."
Up to now, the Concept still influences strategic education documents. For example, the Good School Concept states, that it does not neglect ideas established in previous strategic education concepts.
1992 General Concept of Education
The Concept of the National School laid the basis for the General Concept of Educationapproved in 1992. The General Concept of Education set out the basic principles and goals of the education reform, defined the structure of the education system, teacher training and also education governance and financing. The General Concept of Education states that:
“The intention of reformed education in Lithuania is not to justify the existing social and ideological structures but to provide a basis for a dynamic renewal of society and formation of open and critical social consciousness. The main goal of reformed education is an independent and creative individual who fully reveals his abilities at school. A reformed school should help the individual express his personality in the social and cultural environment, nurture the learner's cultural identity and an understanding that he/she is not only a consumer of the mother tongue, but also a creator responsible for its development and preservation of its identity. Lithuanian education should be based on close cooperation between the family, the school and society. The school is being built as a cultural hearth open to the family and the public”.
Fundamental education principles and national policies in nowadays
The main state‘s education principles are set in the main state‘s law − the Constitution. It was adopted by a referendum of Lithuanian citizens on 25 October 1992. The Constitution determines that:
- Education is compulsory for people under 16.
- Learning at state and municipal general education and vocational schools is free of charge.
- Higher education is available to everyone according to the capabilities of the individual.
- Students whose academic achievements in higher education institutions are fairly good are guaranteed education free of charge.
These fundamental principles are reflected in legal acts regulating education, science and studies.
Law on Education
The key document regulating the activities of the education system in Lithuania is the Law on Education. The Law on Education defines the goals of education in Lithuania, the key principles of the education system, the basic structure of its organisation, activities and relationships as well as the major commitments of the State in the field of education. Special laws additionally regulate vocational education and training and higher education.
The Law on Education sets out the following principles of education:
- Equal opportunities, that includes social justice, implementation of rights, equal access to education and possibility to develop qualification or gain new one.
- Contextuality, when education system is closely related to state‘s economic, social, cultural development.
- Effectiveness, oriented to efficiency and quality.
- Continuity – the education system is flexible, open and based on interaction of various forms and institutions; it allows each individual to engage in lifelong learning.
The Law on Education sets out the following goals:
- Develop a young person's values, enable him to act independently, help to develop skills important in contemporary life.
- Identify a young person's creative abilities, help him acquire competences and/or a vocational qualification upon this basis. Allow the development through lifelong learning.
- Reinforce the capability of society to ensure sustainable development of the country, competitiveness, national security.
- Deliver to each person the basics of national, European and world culture and values.
- Allow a person to acquire the basics of civic and political culture.
Law on Vocational Education and Training
The Law on Vocational Education and Training set the structure of the vocational education and training (VET) system, the design, management and award of qualifications, organisation and management of VET as well as VET funding. The same principles from the Law on Education are in the Law on Vocational Education and Training.
The Law on Vocational Education and Training establishes the following objectives of the VET system:
- Help an individual to attain a qualification and competences corresponding to the contemporary level of science, technology, economy and culture and that assist people in positioning themselves and competing in the changing labour market.
- Create the necessary conditions for individuals of diverse needs and capabilities to engage in lifelong learning and also upgrade and change their qualifications.
- Assure accessibility and quality of VET.
- Assure matching of qualifications to the needs of the national economy and also objectivity in assessing competences and also awarding and recognising qualifications.
- Assure effective functioning of the vocational guidance system.
The Law on Higher Education and Research
The Law on Higher Education and Research establishes the state regulation of higher education and research, starting with state‘s regulation of higher education and research, the principles of quality assurance and finishing with funding of higher education and research and principles of management of the assets of state higher education institutions.
The Law on Higher Education and Research establishes that education is based on the following principles:
- Freedom of creation and research.
- Academic ethics.
- Priority for Lithuanian studies.
- Publicity of research results.
- Integration into the life of the State and society.
- Orientation towards international quality standards.
- Fair competition.
- Ensuring of intellectual property rights.
- Participation in the international and European research area.
The Law on Higher Education and Research specifies that higher education is based on the following principles:
- Academic freedom and autonomy.
- Openness and responsibility to the public.
- Cooperation among members of the academic community.
- Students' personal interest.
- Commitment to develop public responsibility of members of the academic community.
- Fair competition of higher education institutions and students.
- Priority for Lithuanian studies.
- European humanistic and democratic tradition.
- Compatibility with the provisions of the European higher education area.
- Striving for continuous learning.
- Integration into the life of the State and society.
National Education Strategy for 2013-2022
The Law on Education states, that the main document regulating the course of changes in the education system in Lithuania is the National Education Strategy for 2013–2022. The Strategy sets out the Lithuanian education policy priorities, long term goals and directions for changes in education content and financing.
The National Education Strategy for 2013-2022 sets out four main goals of national education policy:
- Reflective, constantly developing and working highly effectively professional teachers and lecturers.
- Established quality culture of education.
- Creation of conditions to extract individual abilities and meet special needs.
- Establishment of the incentives and equal conditions based system of lifelong learning.
Read more about the National Education Strategy for 2013-2022 in chapter 2.2. “Lifelong Learning Strategy”.
Guidelines for the Change of General Education Schools
On 11 July 2017 the Seimas adopted the Guidelines for the Change of General Education Schools. This document should accelerate the implementation of National Education Strategy for 2013-2022 and other strategic documents. This document refers to the principles of systemicity (education system is integral), contextuality and internationality, the harmony of reflection and future insight, and cooperation. It also establishes directions of political actions, in which areas, related to general education, the changes should firstly occur. These directions are:
- Curricula. Curricula must focus on the development of competencies. Material education resources must be ensured. The evaluation system of personal achievements must also be developed.
- Teacher training and career. The renewed document that establishes competencies needed for the teacher should be prepared. A national system for teacher training, continuous development and retraining must be formed. Career opportunities for teachers must be assured.
- Educational research. Teachers' ability to conduct research must be developed. Educational change and the application of innovation in education must be tested through pilot projects. And it is very important to coordinate educational research and innovation institutions.
- Strategic management of school. The autonomy and diversity of schools must be encouraged. The quality culture in the school and cooperation between the school and the local community must be formed.
- General education funding. Funding changes must increase the access to general education. In order to attract the most talented educators, a wage system that meets the peculiarities of a teacher's career must be implemented. At the same time, it must be ensured that EU funds are used efficiently and systematically.
The Concept of Good School
On 21 December 2015 the Minister of Education and Science approved the Concept of Good School. This document sets out the guidelines for raising the quality of school performance, what school activities should be and guidelines on how the school can achieve this. At the same time, in order to implement the Concept of Good School, legislation and documents in the field of education must be changed. The Concept of Good School says that a good school is the one that is built on humanistic values, strives for the success of discovery and personal development, and follows the school community's agreements and learning in its activities. A good school is the one that:
- Implements the mission of the school properly – it creates a rich, pleasant experience at school and strives for the maturity of the person through the achievement process.
- Evaluates all factors that determine the implementation of the mission: the educational environment, school staff, school community, leadership and management.
- Local community and local-government encourage a good school to grow and help her do it.
Plan for optimizing the network of state universities
On 11 June 2017 the Seimas approved the Plan for optimizing the network of state universities. This document sets political directions how the system of the state universities must be reformed. Both local and foreign experts (e.g. OECD experts) notice that the network of state universities is too big for the country with a population less than 3 million. In order to enable state universities to ensure the high quality of science and studies, their connection with the needs of the society, the state, and business and to be able to compete internationally, the network of state universities must be optimized. The main actions in this reform are the following:
- Integrate academic potential, encourage universities to unite and integrate and ensure effective asset management, reduce the number of study programs.
- Unite one classical, wide-area research university in both cities – Vilnius and Kaunas. Universities of affiliated technologies, health sciences and arts can also operate in these cities.
- Maintain the university research centers that are in line with the needs of regions in Klaipėda and Šiauliai that may be units of other universities.
- Focus education and education research and teachers training in the classical universities and Šiauliai University Science Center, avoiding city-wide duplication.
Guidelines for changing science and innovation policies
On 27 September 2016 the Seimas adopted the Guidelines for changing science and innovation policies. This document outlines the policies and the main tasks of the science and innovation. Changes in the following areas of education and science have to take place in order the science and innovation would be developed successfully in the country:
- Educational system. It must focus on developing innovative and creative person who learns lifelong. Curricula has to be revised; a system of teacher training, continuous development and retraining must be reformed. It is necessary to reorganize the network of general schools and to strengthen internationally competitive higher education institutions. The rotation of heads of educational institutions must be ensured at all levels.
- Lithuanian research system. It is necessary to develop world-class scientific centers, to ensure the interaction between national and international research infrastructures and the competitive wage for Lithuanian researchers. The science and innovation system must be open, consolidating the various potentialities, attracting investment. The system for evaluating and funding research activities must be based on international indicators for monitoring scientific and innovative activities.
- Financial engineering measures. Financial engineering instruments should be used to stimulate innovation, investments in research and innovation, establishment and investments in innovative enterprises, installation of innovations, development of international science and business projects with a significant economic impact.
- Science and innovation policy. Science and innovation policy must be coherent, integrate all state policies and be geared towards ensuring of the efficiency. This requires professional leadership and horizontal implementation of science and innovation policies.
- Application of strategic planning in the implementation of science and innovation policy.
Teacher Training Model
On 14 September 2017 the Minister of Education and Science approved a new description of the Teacher Training Model (Model) prepared by various stakeholders. Its purpose is to create the preconditions for effective and qualitative functioning of teacher training and continuous professional development (CPD) system. The teacher training centres on:
- Complex selection to pedagogical studies. The candidate's learning achievements (competitive score), motivation, personal qualities and values will be assessed. During the study pedagogical practice, the person's suitability for a profession will be re-evaluated.
- Pedagogical studies (teacher training). Teachers training will take place in three strongest higher education institutions. International experts will be involved. Teacher training programs will be updated; a variety of teaching methods for teachers (concurrent, consecutive, pedagogical professional studies, alternative methods) will be established.
- Professional growth through pedagogical internship, pedagogical activities and improvement of continuous professional development.
The legislation on teacher training is currently underway and the process of optimizing state higher education institutions has already begun. The Ministry of Education and Science expects a new Teacher Training Model to be launched from 2020.
 The Concept of National School, 1998, p. 5.
 The Concept of National School, 1998, p. 6.
 The General Concept of Education, 1992, p. 5.
 The Seimas adopted the Law on Education on 25 June 1991. The Seimas adopted new edition of the Law on Education on 17 March 2011. Different parts of the law are constantly renewed.
 The Seimas adopted the Law on Vocational Education and Training on 14 October 1997. New edition was adopted on 3 April 2007. At the moment the Seimas is discussing the new edition.
 The Seimas adopted the Law on Higher Education and Research on 30 April 2009. The new edition came into force on 1 January 2017. However, part of the articles of this new edition will come into force later. Until 2000 there was the Law on Higher education, adopted by the Seimas on 31 March 2000.