Types of institutions
The main vocational education providers in Lithuania are called VET institutions. They are all of the same types. Vocational education can be provided by a freelance teacher or other vocational education provider (general education school, institution, organisation, company whose main activity is not vocational training). A vocational education provider must have a licence issued by the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport.
Pupils must be at least 14 to attend a VET institution. Pupils without a lower secondary education are offered the lower secondary education curriculum alongside a professional qualification. According to the Constitution education is compulsory until 16 years of age.
According to the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport, there are 70 state VET institutions in the 2017/2018 school year. There are 42 sectorial practical training centres operating in the VET institutions.
On December 2017 the Law on Vocational Education and Training (VET) (new edition) was adopted. Thereafter, the VET institutions network is being prepared for reform. The whole new law, together − and part of the establishment of the new VET institutions network, comes into force from 1 January 2019. The reorganisation of the network of VET institutions is based on a comprehensive analysis of vocational education and training. It was a full evaluation of all the 10 regions of Lithuania − demographic trends, economic needs, etc. Together, all VET institutions operating in these regions were assessed − vocational education and training programmes, their compliance with the needs of the economy, learners, pedagogical staff, accessibility, etc. The network reorganisation is based on the review of vocational education and training programmes and the identification of the optimal assets and equipment needed to provide high-quality vocational education and training.
Steps planned for the reorganisation in 2018-2020:
In 2018, 42 budget VET institutions will be reorganised into public institutions. By 2020, all VET institutions will have to be public institutions. Business representatives will be invited to participate in the management of VET institutions, to develop the content of vocational education and training and participate in the implementation of VET.
In the first quarter of 2018, the structure of VET programmes is reviewed in the regions − whether it meets the needs, specialisation and prospects of the economy in that region. Programmes are under review throughout the whole reorganisation period, because by the end of 2020, at least 50 per cent of the overlapping VET programmes in the same residential area must be abolished.
By April 30 of every year, decisions regarding the reorganisation of VET institutions and their internal structure are taken (by Government resolutions). In that case restructured institutions may begin their activities on 1 September of that same year. By the end of 2020 there should be 64 VET institutions remaining.
In the reorganisation, merger, liquidation process institutions will make an inventory of their assets. It is proposed to transfer unnecessary assets to the Turto Bankas.
Admission requirements and choice of school
The minimum age for entry to a VET programme is 14. If an entrant is younger than 16 years of age and has not acquired lower secondary education, he/she applies for a VET programme and the lower secondary education programme. In that case the duration of the learning is 3 years. If the entrant has not acquired lower secondary education but he/she is already more than 16 years of age, they can chose only a VET programme and acquire a professional qualification without lower secondary education. In that case the duration of learning is 2 years.
Since 2017, admission to VET institutions is carried out centrally via the internet. Those who wish to apply must register and apply through the system of Lithuanian Association of Higher Education for General Admission (LAMA BPO) on webpage http://www.lamabpo.lt/. There is more than one possibility to participate in the competition to enter VET since there is a main admission and additional admissions during oneyear.
The number of state-funded and non-state-funded VET places is established by the order of the Minister for Education, Science and Sport.
Main admission. There are no entrance examinations for those wishing to enrol in a VET programme. However, the VET institution has the right to organise an evaluation of entrants’ specific abilities using its own tests. If there are more entrants than state-funded places, priority is given to those:
who seek an initial qualification and
have higher achievements in general education subjects.
If there are less than 12 entrants joining the programme or if he/she was not offered their first choice of VET programme, the admission system offers entrants their second choice. The system may also offer another VET institution that implements the entrant's preferred programme.
Additional admission. When the main admission is completed, there is an additional admission for any remaining places. Those who have not participated in the main admission can participate in the additional admission. In addition, those who participated in the main admission but were not offered a place in the VET institution can also participate in the additional admission procedure. It is important that an entrant who participates in a repeat admission procedure must not have signed a VET learning agreement.
Age levels and grouping of pupils/students
Age of learners
Pupils must be aged at least 14 to attend a VET institution. VET institutions must provide lower secondary education for learners up to the age of 16.
There should be at least 25 learners in the first-year groups of initial VET.
If it is not possible to form a learner’s group of 25 or there is no economic need, smaller groups can be formed or two smaller groups can be merged to form one joint group. The institution holding founder status has to agree on this.
If there are learners in the group with inherited or acquired disabilities and who have high or very high special educational needs, the size of the group can be reduced. In that case each learner with special educational needs is counted as two learners. There can be no more than 3 learners with high or very high special educational needs in one group.
Each subject of the lower secondary education programme is taught by a specialist teacher. Vocational teachers teach the teaching subjects. Separate topics in the teaching subject might be taught by a different vocational teacher. A practice tutor is assigned for practicals.
Class division for curriculum
In order to implement a school’s lower secondary curriculum, a class can be divided into groups or temporary (mobile) groups can be formed for particular subjects. The pupils can be grouped in temporary (mobile) groups according to the level of knowledge in the subject. For example, according to the level of foreign language (B1, B2 etc.). Temporary (mobile) groups can also be formed according to the subjects the pupil choses to learn. For example, when a pupil chooses one subject from a group of subjects.
In order to implement the VET curriculum, when a group contains more than 20 learners, it can be divided into two sub-groups during classes of practical training or during classes where theoretical teaching and practical training are closely related.
Organisation of the school year
The length of the school year and educational process
When a VET institution provides lower secondary education together with VET, lower secondary education is organised in the same way as in general education schools providing lower secondary education. Therefore, firstly, the school year is organised according to the general plans of the lower secondary and upper secondary education curriculum for the concrete school year approved by the Minister for Education, Science and Sport. The 2017/2018 school year is organised according to the General Plan of the Lower Secondary and Upper Secondary Education Curriculum for 2017/2018 and 2018/2019.
The school year begins on 1 September and ends on 31 August. The school year consists of time for educational process and time for holiday. In order to improve pupils’ achievements, the length of the educational process in general education has been increased. In the 2017/2018 school year, the length of the educational process is 181 school days for grades 9-10 and gymnasium grades I-II. In the 2018/2019 school year the duration of the educational process will be 185 school days.
The decision on organising the time for 10 added school days in 2017/2018 and on 15 school days in 2018/2019 is adopted by:
- the school that decides on 5 school days in the 2017/2018 school year and on 10 school days in the 2018/2019 school year and
- institution having founder status, that decides on 5 school days after the school gives its proposals.
The teaching year of initial VET lasts maximum for 40 weeks. The VET provider sets up the beginning and the duration continuous VET.
VET and lower secondary education programmes have holidays in the autumn, at Christmas, in the winter and at Easter. School personnel work during these school holidays (except for public holidays). The total length of these holidays is no more than 17 school days. It does not include public holidays. It is recommended to plan holidays every 7-8 school weeks. The principal sets the holiday dates. The summer holidays start after the educational process is completed (usually it is in the second part of June). The head of the VET institution must coordinate all holiday changes with the board of the VET institution.
Division of the educational process
The school year is divided into half-years. The VET provider sets the dates.
The main form of the educational process in lower secondary education is a lesson. Schools that choose a different way of organising the educational process, for example, by project or otherwise, must coordinate it with the relevant institutions.
Organisation of the school day and week
Pupils attend VET school 5 days per week. The learning load per week has to be optimal and distributed rationally. It is recommended to organise fewer lessons on a Friday. There should also be time for non-formal education and for meeting pupils’ individual educational needs.
Classes start between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m.
The duration of a lesson is 45 minutes. The duration of a lesson may be adjusted if necessary, but the maximum duration of uninterrupted activity should not exceed 90 minutes.
Students who are 18 years old may receive 40 astronomical hours (60 minutes) per week for practice or workplace training (in a real company etc.). Or the students may receive 40 academic hours (45 minutes) of practice or training at the workplace implemented at a sectorial practical training centre or at a VET provider's practical training base.
The length ofbreaks between lessons must be at least 10 minutes. In the case of practical training or actual practical work placement, breaks are determined in accordance with the company’s, institution’s, organisation’s rules of procedure or other internal documents.