Education is an activity designed to form the foundations for an individual to lead a full, independent life and to help people improve their skills over the course of their entire lives. Learning is considered to be an inherent right, and education – a priority area of social development, supported by the state. The Lithuanian educational system diagram illustrates the pre-school, pre-primary and formal education levels as well as the relationships between them in more detail.

This information and the Lithuanian educational system diagram were prepared based on legislation and the AIKOS database.

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Formal education
Non-formal education
Pre-school education

The purpose of pre-school education is to help children to develop the rudiments of self-sufficiency, a healthy lifestyle and positive interaction with adults and peers, to get to know their country, and to begin learning creativity and the ability to learn.

Children from birth to age six (or five, in exceptional cases) are accepted at pre-school institutions. That is, until they begin to attend a pre-primary group.

Pre-primary education

Pre-primary education has been mandatory since 1 September 2016. The objective of pre-primary education is to ensure the optimum development of each child, taking his or her uniqueness and educational needs into account, and to help children successfully prepare to study at school.

Pre-primary education is carried out in accordance with the General Pre-Primary Education Curriculum approved by the Minister of Education and Science.

Primary education

The primary education programme is the first formal education programme, carried out in accordance with the four-year (grades 1–4) primary education curriculum, upon completion of which a primary education is obtained.

Its objective is to provide the pupil with the basics of moral, social and cultural maturity, to cultivate elementary literacy, and to help him or her successfully prepare to continue learning according to the basic education curriculum. 

A child begins the primary education curriculum the same calendar year that he or she turns seven years old. In exceptional cases, a child can be enrolled in first grade one year earlier if he or she is mature and had attended a pre-primary group since the age of five.

Basic education

After obtaining a primary education, pupils begin to study according to the basic education curriculum, which lasts six years. The basic education curriculum is carried out by basic, youth and vocational training schools as well as by pre-gymnasiums and gymnasiums. Education may also take place outside of the school: in museums, parks and so on, by adjusting the teaching process. The general education plans that the schools follow when developing their own plans stipulates that the school's learning environment must create conditions for active schooling, learning individually and in groups of different sizes, and practical, experimental, theoretical and other activities. Meanwhile, teachers must be given the opportunity to work innovatively, using modern teaching technology: faster Internet, an intranet, interactive boards, computers, modern office and class equipment, a library, etc.

The compulsory basic education curriculum is composed of two parts: the first part encompasses grades 5–8 and takes four years, and the second part covers grades 9–10 (gymnasium I–II) and takes two years. Pupils can begin learning a second foreign language in grade 5, while a second foreign language is compulsory in grade 6.

From grade 9 (gymnasium I), students are able to select subject modules and study elective subjects according to their inclinations and abilities.

If the school wants to, it can temporarily create individual education plans for pupils who are having trouble learning or, conversely, for those who are doing especially well.

School is mandatory for pupils under the age of 16. Compulsory education usually lasts until grade 10. 

Pupils who have completed the basic education curriculum and would like to obtain a basic education must take basic education achievement tests. Mandatory basic education achievement tests are taken in Lithuanian (native and state) and mathematics, and elective tests are taken in native languages other than Lithuanian (Belarusian, Polish, Russian, German).

Upon obtaining a basic education, adolescents can continue their studies according to the secondary education or vocational education and training curricula. 

Non-formal education for children

The purpose of non-formal education for children is to satisfy pupils' cognitive, development and self-expression needs, and to help them become active members of society. Non-formal education programmes for children are implemented by music, arts, sports and other schools, as well as freelance teachers and other education providers. A competence acquired through non-formal education may be recognised as a part of a formal education programme or qualification in accordance with the procedure established by the government or authorised institution thereof, or the procedure established by institutions of higher education. A long-term art education programme taken at a music, art, sports or other school for children can be recognised as a vocational education and training module.

Vocational education and training

Vocational education and training can be initial or continuous. Initial vocational education and training can only be formal, while continuous can be both formal and non-formal. Formal vocational education and training programmes are offered by 74 state and three non-state vocational training establishments. Formal initial vocational education and training is provided to individuals with basic or secondary education, individuals with specials needs, as well as individuals who do not have basic or secondary education. Together with a qualification, basic or secondary education can also be obtained at initial vocational training establishments. Adolescents are accepted at vocational training establishments from the age of 14. Formal continuous vocational education and training programmes are offered by five labour market training centres, departments of adult education institutions carrying out initial vocational education and training programmes, institutions of higher education, companies and other organisations. Formal continuous vocational education and training is provided to individuals who already have a qualification but want to improve it or acquire another qualification. Non-formal vocational education and training can be provided by every vocational education and training provider as needed. Non-formal vocational education and training is provided according to the needs (request) of the individual or the employer.

Secondary education

Secondary education is not compulsory; it lasts two years (secondary school grades 11–12 or gymnasium grades III–IV). Pupils study according to individual educational plans. The programme may include vocational training programme modules. The secondary education curriculum is available at secondary schools, gymnasiums and vocational training schools.  

Pupils also have the option of selecting education that is in line with their values, world-view, religious beliefs or philosophical views. This kind of education is provided at schools of non-traditional education. Non-traditional education schools can work according to their own curricula, but the total number of subjects and hours allocated to a separate subject in grades 1–12 may not differ more than 25 per cent from those provided for in the state general education plans.

Vocational education and training

Vocational education and training can be initial or continuous. Initial vocational education and training can only be formal, while continuous can be both formal and non-formal. Formal vocational education and training programmes are offered by 74 state and three non-state vocational training establishments. Formal initial vocational education and training is provided to individuals with basic or secondary education, individuals with specials needs, as well as individuals who do not have basic or secondary education. Together with a qualification, basic or secondary education can also be obtained at initial vocational training establishments. Adolescents are accepted at vocational training establishments from the age of 14. Formal continuous vocational education and training programmes are offered by five labour market training centres, departments of adult education institutions carrying out initial vocational education and training programmes, institutions of higher education, companies and other organisations. Formal continuous vocational education and training is provided to individuals who already have a qualification but want to improve it or acquire another qualification. Non-formal vocational education and training can be provided by every vocational education and training provider as needed. Non-formal vocational education and training is provided according to the needs (request) of the individual or the employer.

Adult education

Non-formal adult education creates conditions for individuals to engage in lifelong learning, satisfy their cognitive needs, improve their qualification and acquire a new qualification. Individuals can select non-formal adult education from the age of 18. Non-formal adult education services are provided by 60 adult schools and centres or general education schools with adult classes in all of the country's municipalities, as well as by public and private institutions.

Lifelong learning includes all learning activities that take place at any stage of life in order to improve competencies in personal, civic, social and professional fields.

Vocational education and training

Vocational education and training can be initial or continuous. Initial vocational education and training can only be formal, while continuous can be both formal and non-formal. Formal vocational education and training programmes are offered by 74 state and three non-state vocational training establishments. Formal initial vocational education and training is provided to individuals with basic or secondary education, individuals with specials needs, as well as individuals who do not have basic or secondary education. Together with a qualification, basic or secondary education can also be obtained at initial vocational training establishments. Adolescents are accepted at vocational training establishments from the age of 14. Formal continuous vocational education and training programmes are offered by five labour market training centres, departments of adult education institutions carrying out initial vocational education and training programmes, institutions of higher education, companies and other organisations. Formal continuous vocational education and training is provided to individuals who already have a qualification but want to improve it or acquire another qualification. Non-formal vocational education and training can be provided by every vocational education and training provider as needed. Non-formal vocational education and training is provided according to the needs (request) of the individual or the employer.

Higher education

There are two types of institutions of higher education in Lithuania: universities and colleges. At a university (the name may also contain the words "university", "academy" or "seminary"), university studies are conducted, scientific research and experimental development is conducted, and/or high-level professional art is developed; at a college (the name may also contain the words "college" or "institution of higher education"), college studies are conducted and applied scientific research and/or professional art is developed.

Studies are conducted according to degree and non-degree study programmes. Degree studies consist of three cycles: the first cycle – bachelor's and professional bachelor's programmes; the second cycle – master's programmes; and the third cycle – doctoral studies.

First-cycle study programmes are meant to develop general erudition, convey the theoretical principles of the study field, and form the professional skills that are necessary for independent work. A professional bachelor's degree or a professional bachelor's degree and a professional qualification are awarded upon completing first-cycle college study programmes that are more focused on preparation for professional activities. The scope of these studies is 180–240 credits. A bachelor's degree or a bachelor's degree and a professional qualification are awarded upon completing first-cycle university study programmes that provide universal general education and are more focused on theoretical preparation and top-level professional skills. The scope of these studies is 210–240 credits.

Second-cycle (master's) studies are designed to prepare the student for independent research/artistic work or any other work which requires scientific knowledge and analytical skills. Studies in this cycle are university-level and upon completion of them, a master's degree or a master's degree and a professional qualification are awarded. The scope of these studies is 90–120 credits. In order to be accepted into a master's programme, individuals must have at least a bachelor's or professional bachelor's degree or equivalent higher education qualification and must meet the requirements established by the institution of higher education.

Integrated studies are also offered – these studies combine first- and second-cycle university studies in order to earn a master's degree. The scope of these studies is 300–360 credits.

Third-cycle (doctoral) studies are offered in the fields of science or arts. Upon completing doctoral studies and defending a dissertation (or art project), a doctorate in research (or arts) is awarded. In order to be accepted into a doctoral programme, individuals must have a master's or equivalent higher education qualification.

Non-degree studies allow a person to acquire a qualification or prepare for independent professional activity. Upon completing these studies, a certificate of completion is issued.