General Education Curriculum
On 25 May 2022, the Minister of Education, Science and Sports approved the Description of the Procedure for Assessing the Compliance of Textbooks and Teaching Aids with Legislation and the Provision of General Education Subjects.
The changed provisions of the procedure make the quality of the content of textbooks and teaching aids the responsibility of their publishers. It specifies the responsibilities of the National Education Agency, the rights and duties of the school owner and the duties of the school head when making decisions concerning the provision of textbooks and teaching aids within schools.
Adopted in 2022, and implemented from 1 September 2023, an updated general curricula will be introduced in Grades 1, 3, 5, 7, 9 (Gymnasium I), and Gymnasium III, and for the remaining grades, from 1 September 2024. The decision to update the content of the curriculum was based on changes in education, taking into account the latest developments in science, the results of international studies, the national achievement test results, and recommendations from experts within international organisations. The updated curricula follows a competence-orientated educational trend. This means that the aim will be, not only to acquire knowledge, but also the ability to apply it and acquire more of the skills needed in the modern world. The intention is to develop cognitive, digital, social, emotional skills, and a healthy lifestyle, creativity, civic responsibility and cultural and communication competences.
The learning content in the updated programmes is presented with a distinction between compulsory content (about 70 %) and optional content (about 30 %), which is chosen by the teacher according to the students’ abilities and in coordination with other teachers. The proportion of this division may vary according to the level of education, the logic of the subject, the objectives and the teaching tradition.
Transition to online learning. From the 15th of December 2020 the quarantine requirements were increased: only grocery and basic goods stores were open and services that took less than 15 minutes were permitted. People were not allowed to meet up and movement within the country was restricted. These new restrictions also affected general education – students were sent on early Winter (Christmas) holidays. With the resumption of school after the holidays students continued to study remotely. Only students whose parents are legally allowed to work in the workplace and cannot take care of their children were allowed to attend school in person. While these children were supervised at school, they attended lessons online along with their classmates. If provided, non-formal education of children also continued online. Children who attend special schools and special classes in general education schools (that is, a school / class for children with high and very high needs) were educated in their schools (contact education), with strict adherence to safety requirements.
Safe return to learning according to the primary education programme. On the 22nd of February 2021 students returned to education at Vilnius Duke Gediminas pre-gymnasium. The return to education model was prepared in conjunction with health professionals and tested in this pre-gymnasium’s primary classes. Four days before returning to education, lateral flow antigen testing was carried out for elementary teachers and their families. Three days before returning, lateral antigen testing was carried out for students and their families. If their test results were negative, they returned to contact education from the 22nd of March. Anyone who had a positive test result from the lateral antigen tests was tested with RT-PCR tests for COVID-19 infection. A positive result meant that the student/teacher and his/her family had to isolate for 14 days. School staff was then tested regularly on a weekly basis using the lateral antigen tests, where five test samples were pooled. Students are also tested periodically. After the first test, staff and students’ families are no longer tested. This experiment lasted for a couple of weeks and as it was seen to be successful, Vilnius city (the capital) was allowed to bring other primary school students back to schools using the same “safe return” model. It is important to note that this kind of returning to school has to be approved by school staff and the majority of the school’s parents, who all must agree to be tested. In some municipality schools that offered such testing to ensure a safe return to school, parents have refused to return, citing fears about the safety of the tests; arguing that children achieve better educational results from being educated at home, and so on.
If a municipality’s epidemiological situation was considered normal, the return to primary education was permitted without testing, but it is suggested that this testing model be used on a voluntary basis. In those municipalities where the epidemiological situation is poor or deteriorating, contact teaching in primary schools is only permitted if the school implements the “safe return” model described above.
In Lithuania, the rate of COVID-19 differed in the various parts of the country. The intensity rate is assessed by considering the 14-daysincident rate per 100,000 population, the positivity rate and the number of Covid-19 patients in hospital. According to these parameters, a “green” situation was achieved in one municipality in March, when the number of cases and the positivity rate were very low. Other municipalities were moving in the right direction, until the "British" variant of the virus began spreading in the capital region and in the municipality of Marijampolė (it borders with Poland); the situation began deteriorating in other municipalities as well.
Help for those with learning difficulties. With the tightening of quarantine and remote teaching, teachers began to notice that some children were experiencing difficulties in online education. In mid-January, there were an estimated 14,000 such children who needed help with remote learning – to help them participate in remote learning, and to strengthen their learning motivation. A further 11,000 students experienced disruptions due to not having enough technological equipment at home. The government decided that children who are having difficulty learning from home, or who the Child Welfare Commission feels need care in an institution should be provided with their remote learning, care and free meals at a school, children’s day centre or other institution designated by the municipality. An algorithm was developed to help schools to identify students in need of additional support for remote learning. Volunteers from non-governmental organizations are also involved; they help to look after these children in the schools, children’s day care centres or youth centres, even in the middle of spring, and help them with their homework.
Additional funding will also be provided to allow students in difficulty to have individual consultations with their teachers, thus helping to reduce learning gaps. It is planned to have summer camps for these children to help with improving their mathematical and science literacy through various activities.
The Ministry of Education, Science and Sport allocated EUR 6 million for the purchase of computer equipment. Just over 9,000 computers with internet access have been bought using these funds and Eur 1 million was allocated for the individual consultations with teachers.
Measures to help school leavers prepare for exams. From mid-March 2021, schools were allowed to organize consultations for school leavers (upper secondary education students). A maximum of 5 twelfth graders may participate in a consultation. There are also remote open lessons with teachers and university lecturers. Twelfth graders’ Lithuanian language and mathematics teachers are undergoing additional consultations to help students prepare for state exams. Students and teachers can use the tasks of previous state exams. In order to reduce the stress experienced by school leavers, the oral exams for Lithuanian language and literature have already been cancelled.
Vaccination. Lithuania received its first vaccines at the end of December 2020 / first days of January 2021. Doctors and other front-line workers and nursing-home patients were the first to be vaccinated. Vaccination of pre-school teachers started in mid-February because kindergartens were not closed en masse during the strictest quarantine in the winter of 2020-2021. Also, in order to bring primary school students back to schools as soon as possible, vaccination of primary school teachers was also started. In the second half of March, before the mass vaccination, all educators were listed as priority groups and vaccination of this cohort has begun. In an effort to ensure that the final State exams can proceed safely, vaccination of school leavers began in early April.
2021-2022 school year in primary, lower and higher secondary education was started in a contact manner, in compliance with basic safety conditions.
It is recommended for students from 12 years of age and teachers to get vaccinated voluntarily. All schools provide opportunities for students to voluntarily test in one of the methods chosen by the school (cumulative, antigens). The school decides on the method of testing. Children are tested at school, tests are provided by the school.
Non-immune employees are required to be tested regularly in accordance with government procedures.
 The cumulative test is much simplier and causes less discomfort – the sample is taken from the nose at a depth of 1.5 cm. Samples from the entire family are placed in a single medium and travel to the laboratory for analysis.