First European Ministry of Education
A complete system of formal education in Lithuania was created back at the end of the 16th century: the primary education (stage 1), the pre-higher education (stage 2) and higher/university education. The year 1773 saw the establishment of the Education Commission – the first education institution of the Lithuanian-Polish state, which served as the very first European Ministry of Education. It created a new education management system. The school network was headed by Vilnius University (major school of the Grand Duchy as of 1781).
Educational system today
The system of education in Lithuania is based on European cultural values. It has been undergoing a gradual overhaul ever since 1992, when the education reform was launched.
Pre-school education follows pre-school curriculum and is provided for the children from one to five (or six) years of age. Preparatory education is provided from six years of age, or even earlier at parents’ request (and where the child is sufficiently mature for this level of education), but not before the child is five. The duration is one year.
General education follows the curricula of primary, basic and secondary education and lasts for 12 years. Primary education is provided from seven years of age, or earlier at parents’ request, provided the child is prepared. The duration of the curriculum is four years. Upon completion, children acquire primary education. Basic (lower-secondary) education lasts six years. Upon completion of 10th grade curriculum, students acquire basic (lower-secondary) education. As next stage in general education, students may opt for secondary or vocational education curricula. Secondary education lasts two years. Upon the completion of the curriculum of secondary education and having passed maturity examinations, students acquire secondary education. Schooling until 16 years of age is compulsory. There is no academic achievement evaluation at primary level. 5-12 grade achievements fall within the grade scale 1-10.
Lithuania has 1415 schools of general education providing education for 464906 children.
Vocational training is designed to acquire qualification and lasts from one to three years. Vocational schools follow vocational training curricula. Schools of general education are also entitled to provide training following vocational training modules.
Oldest university in Eastern Europe
The history of higher education in Lithuania goes back to the times when Vilnius Academy-University (Alma academia et universitas Vilnensis societatis Iesu) was opened up under the new privilege by King Stephanus Bathoreus, issued on April 1, 1579 and confirmed by a papal bull issued by Pope Gregory XIII on October 29 of the same year. It turned out to be the first higher education establishment in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and Eastern Europe to that matter.
Not before long, the university became an important intellectual centre: it had 18 professors and a thousand students as early as 17th century. Vilnius University had enough potential for the generation of the most advanced ideas. The most outstanding figures were Martinus Smiglecius who earned university prominence in Europe through his writings “Logica” and “On Usury”, poet Mathias Casimirus Sarbievius, master of rhetoric Sigismundus Lauxminus, Albertus Koialowicius-Wijuk, author of the first Lithuania’s history book, Constantinus Syrvidus, founder of Lithuanian lexicography and linguistics in general, Meletius Smotricius, author of “Slavonic Grammar”, Casimirus Siemienovicius, author of multi-staged rocket idea, mathematicians and astronomers Martizin Poczobutt and Thomas Zebrovicius (the latter, in 1753, established the oldest in the Eastern Europe and the fourth in the world University Observatory.), Jean Emanuel Gilibert, head of History Deaprtment, Georg Forster, Stanyslaw Bonifacy Jundzill and other figures known world-wide.
The country has a well-developed system of universities and colleges. Scientific research potential is centred in 31 public establishment of higher education (15 universities and 16 colleges) and 20 private higher education establishments (8 universities and 12 colleges), 17 state research institutes, 18 university research institutes and 8 state research establishments. Different public and state agencies as well as businesses also participate in R&D activities. The total number of institutions involved in R&D is over a hundred and fifty. The largest number of researchers (66 %) falls to the sector of higher education. Public sector accounts for 29 %, while business for 5%.
Lithuania has a binary higher education system – non-university studies and university type studies. Non-university studies are one cycle (undergraduate) professional studies intended for the preparation (training) for professional activity. After the professional studies are completed a diploma of higher education testifying the obtained professional qualification is awarded. Duration of daytime non-university studies is from 3 till 4 years. This type of studies is provided by colleges. Non-university higher education studies can be transferred as an appropriate part of university first cycle or integrated studies on a course-by-course evaluation basis. University studies are organised in three cycles: first cycle (undergraduate Bachelor) studies; second cycle (graduate Master’s or specialised professional) studies; third cycle (post-graduate residency, doctoral or post-graduate art) studies. University studies can be integrated when the first and the second cycles are combined. University higher education is provided by universities.
At the end of 2003, the Government of the Republic of Lithuania approved the National Long-Term R&D Strategy and its implementation programme in line with the provisions of Science and Technology White Paper. With a view to national need for hi-tech development, the Government has been working on a Hi-Tech Development Programme aimed to facilitate the development of hi-tech production areas which have global prospects and available research potential enabling to produce globally competitive products. The mentioned programme provides for the development of R&D in biotechnologies, mechatronics, laser and information technologies, nanotechnologies and electronics.
Players at global biotech market
Biotechnology is one of the best examples of targeted research and its application in production. Lithuanian biotechnology research centres have accumulated a great intellectual potential and achieved good results in the chemical and biochemical research of protein, enzymes and nucleic acid for pharmaceutical application, as well as the molecular biology research of prokaryote and eukaryote cells. Though the share of the Lithuanian biotechnology sector is relatively small, it was assessed by global audit and business consulting company Ernst & Young as having no equals in Central and Eastern Europe.
Lithuania has over 10 laser technology companies developing and manufacturing laser-retaled products. About 75% of their production is exported to the most mature countries: the USA, Japan, and the EU. Laser technology and research centres carry out international projects funded by the EU and NATO. The international acclaim of the Lithuanian laser research could be demonstrated by the project LASERLAB EUROPE. The project award in 2004 made Vilnius University Laser Research Centre a partner for Integrated European Laser Laboratories.
Mechatronics: an important part of industry
This is another research area on the rise in Lithuania.
Apart from the research output in modelling, power, dynamics, accuracy, reliability and other areas, Kaunas Technological University can offer new technologies and products based on the synthesis of piezoactive materials, smart precision metering instruments and systems, ultrasound flow measuring instruments, ultrasound level and distance precision meters, medical diagnostics systems, ultrasonic echoscope converters and devices, mechatronic physiological monitoring systems, software for saving-control of technological equipment and signal procession and other hi-tech items. The Semiconductor Physics Institute has been doing fundamental and experimental research of physical properties of sensors based on semiconductors, sensing changes in pressure of gases/liquids, in temperature and MW power, as well as recognising various gases in air. The Lithuanian Energy Institute and Vytautas Magnus University have achieved outstanding results in electrochemical generator development. Some of the new products developed by Lithuanian research and study institutions have already been put on the production line.
Lithuania has over a thousand IT companies with a steady rise in outputs and GDP share.
Now, dozens of companies have contracts concluded with foreign clients and continue developing products for the global market. Some of these are joint foreign-Lithuanian ventures. The largest research potential is in Kaunas University of Technology, Vilnius University, the Institute of Mathematics and Informatics and Vilnius Gediminas Technical University. The research carried out also includes new software development methods and hardware design technologies.