The purpose of primary education is to provide an individual with the basics of moral and social maturity, foundations of culture (including ethnic culture) and elementary literacy, as well as to assist the child in preparing him/her for learning according to the basic education curriculum.
The primary education programme is a compulsory four-year programme of schooling (covering grades 1–4) upon completion of which learners attain primary education. This is the first stage of formal education providing a link between pre-primary and primary education. According to the International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED 2011), primary education is allocated to ISCED level 1.
The primary education programme is implemented by the following types of schools: kindergarten-schools (implementing the pre-school, pre-primary and primary curricula); primary schools (implementing the primary curriculum); progymnasiums (implementing the first part of the basic curriculum or the first part of the basic curriculum and the primary curriculum); basic schools (implementing the basic curriculum or the basic and primary curricula); secondary schools (implementing the secondary curriculum or secondary and basic curricula or else secondary, basic and primary curricula); gymnasiums (that, in cases provided for in the Law on Education, may implement not only the accredited secondary curriculum and the second part of the basic curriculum but, in special cases, also the accredited secondary curriculum and basic curriculum or accredited secondary, basic and primary curricula); schools of alternative educational systems (Waldorf schools, also known as Rudolf Steiner education, Maria Montessori, Shin'ichi Suzuki education or schools of traditional religious denominations and communities designed for pupils to follow the general or school-customised primary curriculum where education is based on the concept of alternative educational systems approved by the Minister for Education and Science); special education schools (implementing the pre-school, pre-primary, primary, basic and secondary curricula); adult education centres (implementing the pre-school, pre-primary, primary, basic and secondary curricula); schools–multi-functional centres (implementing the pre-school and/or primary curricula; those schools also provide other non-formal education programmes for both children and/or adults and offer cultural, social and other services necessary for the local community) and others, including schools for children‘s non-formal education and schools supplementing formal education.
In order to provide for the different needs of learners, the designation of primary schools may vary given the economic situation of the country. Primary schools which, due to insufficient numbers of pupils, lack funds for their maintenance may be affiliated to other schools or allowed to continue operating in the same premises as structural units (primary education divisions) of those schools. The potential scope of designations and curricula implemented by general education schools is established in the Rules for the Creation of the Network of Schools Providing the Formal Education Curricula approved by the Lithuanian Government.
In order to achieve coherence, accessibility and quality of education across the country, the primary curriculum is implemented in compliance with the Description of the Primary Education Curriculum, General Curriculum Framework for Primary Education and General Teaching Plans approved by the Minister for Education and Science.
Primary education is regulated by the following legal acts: the General Concept of Education in Lithuania (1992), the National Education Strategy 2013–2020 (2013), Law on Education (2011), Resolution of the Lithuanian Government ‘Regarding Approval of the Rules for Establishing the Network of Schools Implementing the Formal Education Curricula’ (2011), ministerial orders, including those relating to the Concept of Primary Education (2003), Concept of Assessment of Learners' Progress and Achievements (2004) and the approval of the Procedure for Consecutive Learning in Accordance with the General Education Curricula (2012), the General Curriculum Framework for Primary and Basic Education (2008), the General Teaching Plan for the Primary Education Curriculum 2011–2013 (2011), the Conceptual Framework of Children Non-Formal Education (2012), the Conceptual Framework of Non-Traditional Education (2010), the Conceptual Framework for Cultivating Talents According to the Suzuki Model in Lithuania (2005), the Concept of the Montessori Pedagogical Teaching in Lithuania (2004), the Conceptual Framework for Waldorf Pedagogical Approach (2004) and the Understanding of Education Based on the Jesuit Pedagogical Teachings (2008).