At parents’ (guardians’) request, pre-school education can be provided to children from birth to 6 years of age in nurseries, nurseries-kindergartens or kindergartens. Pre-primary education is provided to children from 5–6 years of age to the start of mandatory education, which is 7. The goal of pre-primary education is to assist a child to successfully prepare for school.
Education in Lithuania is compulsory for children from 7 to 16 years of age. Municipal schools are free of charge.
The teaching language at schools is Lithuanian, but there are also schools, where the teaching language is Russian or Polish. There are also private schools where lessons are held in the English or French language. Children with no proficiency in Lithuanian, prior to attending general education school, have an opportunity to learn the Lithuanian language in a special levelling class to bridge the language gap. The level of Lithuanian language proficiency is also assessed by the Commission formed inside the school.
It is important to note that children of migrants (children of foreigners and citizens of the Republic of Lithuania who arrived or returned from abroad to live and work in Lithuania that attend classes of compulsory education) are entitled to receive extra 30% funding in addition to the student’s basket they are entitled to (the student’s basket means the allocation of funds per student earmarked by the state and distributed by municipalities). The additional funding for migrant children, allocated for no longer than one school year (or for a longer period in cases where student achievement is poorer than expected), should cover the expenses of specialists to help the student’s faster integration into classes of peers.
Primary or secondary general education course (comprehensive school)
Basic and secondary education for adults is free of charge. Adult schools admit persons from 16 years of age. Adults wishing to complete a primary or secondary general education course (comprehensive school) have the opportunity to do this in adult secondary schools, training centres and secondary schools, adult classes.
Non-EU nationals who intend to study in institutions of the higher education in Lithuania have to go through the same procedure as citizens of the Republic of Lithuania, with the exception of the entitlement to a state-funded place, if they are not nationals of the EU or EEA countries, or children of Lithuanian descendants. If a foreigner is a citizen of the EU or EEA country, (s)he has the right to enrol in a state-funded place or to receive partial support from the state.
Adults are also able to acquire a professional qualification or competencies to perform a specific job or function. Primary vocational training is available to person aged 14 and above and is free of charge for citizens of Lithuania and for persons who have a residence permit to live in the country. For admission to a vocational training program, you should apply directly to the vocational school providing the service.
Vocational training programs offer individuals of all ages and educational background an opportunity to gain a qualification or competence for a certain job or function. The vocational education system covers initial and continuing vocational education and training. The first qualification is acquired during initial vocational education and training programs at vocational schools. The aim of continuing vocational training programs is to improve the level of the acquired qualification or gain a new qualification.
Initial vocational education might be formal and continuing vocational education might be formal and informal. Formal vocational education programmes are organized in 70 state and 3 non-governmental education institutions.
Vocational schools admit persons who have completed 8 or 10 grades. In this case, both vocational and secondary education is provided. Individuals admitted to vocational schools after completion of 12 grades will acquire only professional qualification, and their studies are shorter.
Admission is conducted in each vocational school individually, by submitting an application and other relevant documents (a list of requested documents may vary depending on a particular vocational school and a profession of one’s choice). The dates and deadlines for submitting applications are May to August.
Professional retraining (continuing vocational training)
Professional retraining is a program offered by the Lithuanian Labour Exchange to people whose qualifications no longer meet the demand of the labour market. The aim of the program is to retrain them for a job in demand or to upgrade their professional qualification.
To qualify for such a program, individuals must be given a layoff notice and/or be registered with the Labour Exchange. In addition, vocational school graduates are also required to have completed their vocational training no earlier than 3 years prior to the retraining program. Besides, a retraining option has to be provided for in an individual employment action plan developed by the person in question with a Labour Exchange staff member.
Professional retraining is financed through State resources. Upon completion of the program, its participant is required to work for at least 6 months under an employment contract concluded after the retraining program. Otherwise, the Labour Exchange office may require reimbursing any costs incurred during the retraining program related to vocational training.
Lithuanian language courses are provided free of charge in the following organizations: Social Educational Initiatives Centre Plus (Vilnius); Vilnius Caritas Programme of Foreigner Integration, Red Cross centres in Kaunas and Klaipėda.
In Vilnius, Kaunas, Klaipėda, Šiauliai and Panevėžys there are also private companies that provide paid Lithuanian language courses.