Country information for Lithuania - Legislation and policy
The main ideas of inclusive education and the concept of ‘inclusion’ are stated in different national-level documents, including:
- the Law on Education;
- the National Education Strategy 2013–2022;
- Profile of the Competence of the Teaching Profession;
- Teacher Training Standards;
- the ‘Good School’ concept.
Lithuania’s first post-communist constitution (1992) affirmed the determination of the Lithuanian nation to strive for an open, just and harmonious democratic society. It states that every child must attend compulsory education until the age of 16.
In Lithuania, practically all mainstream general education schools can be considered inclusive (except for special schools and sanatorium schools), as they accept learners with various educational needs.
Main legal documents regulating the education of learners with special educational needs (SEN)
Education Reform Act of 25 June 1991
This consolidated the democratic principles of education in Lithuania. Children with severe and profound disabilities became ‘educable’.
Law on the Social Integration of the Disabled (1991, and its amendments)
This gives people with disabilities the right to work, study and train. Furthermore, regardless of the type of disability, they are entitled to the same rights as other residents of the Republic of Lithuania.
Act of Special Educational Provision for Children with Special Educational Needs in Mainstream Educational Institutions (1993)
This was the founding legislation for the inclusive education of children with SEN. It was based on the context of the situation of special education in Lithuania and the accumulated experience of other countries in managing special education. It states that learners with SEN in mainstream institutions may be educated:
- in mainstream groups or classes, following the mainstream curriculum, but with special methods applied or following a modified mainstream curriculum or an alternative curriculum or individual education plan;
- partly in mainstream groups or classes and partly in special groups or classes;
- in special groups or classes.
The Act starts to legitimise the inclusive education of learners with SEN in mainstream settings. It also mandates parents’ formal right to choose which educational institution their children will attend.
The Act increases state responsibility for providing free and appropriate education for all children and young people with SEN (aged 0–21) in the least restrictive environment, providing all the necessary supplementary aids and services. The Act regulates the provision of educational assistive technology and training devices.
Procedure for Organisation of Learners with Special Educational Needs (2011)
The municipality ensures the availability and quality of education for each learner with SEN living in the municipality’s territory.
This describes the procedure for determining groups of learners with SEN and allocating their SEN into levels. It regulates the identification of disabilities, disorders and learning difficulties that constitute SEN and the criteria for categorising them into levels.
Law on Education of the Republic of Lithuania (2011, and its amendments)
This law determines the accessibility of education for learners with special needs. This is ensured by adapting the school’s environment, by providing psychological, special pedagogical, special and social-pedagogical assistance, and by supplying schools with technical aids and special teaching aids.
The Ministry of Education, Science and Sport is preparing a number of suggestions for changing the Law on Education and creating an action plan to push forward development of inclusive education in 2020–2023. If the Law on Education is changed (all general education schools would accept all pupils without any exceptions), the Plan would be backed by additional funding from the State and municipal budgets. The measure would also serve as a mechanism to facilitate dialogue.
The Law on Education of the Republic of Lithuania aims to improve the legal framework. It will state that every child should be given the opportunity to study at the school closest to their place of residence, etc.
This describes Lithuanian education policy priorities, long-term education goals and changes of direction in education content and funding priorities. It aims to ‘develop and strengthen non-formal education for children and young people to ensure that pupils, students and young people have the best opportunities to fulfil their true potential’.
The main target effect is higher quality of education. The quality of education is largely assessed by international comparative studies and data, partly by national ones. The education policy focuses on seeking an EU average for learning achievements.
The National Education Strategy also aims to:
- improve the quality of teacher education at higher education institutions, especially the readiness to work with learners with SEN;
- improve the system of funding and accountability for special needs education and enable teachers to provide effective education assistance in consultation with specialists;
- ensure access to education and equal opportunities;
- maximise the development of children and youth in education enrolment;
- provide learners and young people with the most favourable opportunities to develop individual capacity, meeting their special educational and learning needs, and providing effective pedagogical and psychological assistance to learners with learning difficulties;
The goal is to include learners with SEN in mainstream education to the maximum possible extent. However, there are also special educational institutions for learners with major or severe SEN.
This action plan provides measures for strengthening and developing inclusive education until the end of 2020.
One of the goals is to create equal conditions for early and general education, including non-formal education, to seek the diversity of educational institutions, taking into account the specific needs of the local community and learners. It aims for educational programmes to:
- meet different educational needs;
- ensure equal opportunities and accessibility for different social groups (bilingual people, people with disabilities or special needs);
- apply flexible measures, such as mobile laboratories and groups of learning advisers.
Key priority directions from the Government’s Implementation Plan to ensure inclusive education are:
- to strengthen the system for providing education assistance;
- to develop a system for co-ordinated provision of education assistance, health and social services to children and their families at municipal level;
- to improve education financing for learners with major and severe SEN;
- to consider the financing of schools based on the number of class sets (class basket);
- to develop the competence of teachers and other specialists participating in the education process to enable them to work with different groups of learners with SEN;
- to develop and implement the ‘all-day school’ concept;
- to improve education, culture, social security and employment systems for people with special needs;
- to provide additional learning time for learners with learning difficulties and methodological materials for individual learning needs;
- to ensure the provision of complex health, social, education assistance and education services in the remaining special schools using joint finances;
- to integrate foreigners into the Lithuanian education system;
- to create and implement a school autonomy model;
- to ensure inclusive education while providing education and education assistance services close to a learner’s area of residence (Source: FPIES – Lithuania Country Report, pp. 47–49).
- The Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania, 1992.
- The Law on Education of the Republic of Lithuania
- The Life-long Learning Strategy
- The National Strategy for Education 2013–2022
- 17th Government Programme 2017–2020
- Government’s Implementation Plan 2017
- Description of the Determination of Groups of the Pupils with Special Educational Needs and Procedure of the Division of the Educational Needs into the Levels. Minister for Education and Science, Minister for Social Security and Labour, Minister for Health, No. V-1265/V-685/A1-317, 13 July 2011
- The legislation on the Procedure for Assessment of Pupils with Special Educational Needs and Assignment of their Special Education (2011)
- Rules for calculation, allocation and application of teaching funds, Government of the Republic of Lithuania, 2018
- The procedure for providing special pedagogical assistance (2011)
- Order No. 789 (2003) on the education of the children of foreigners who arrived to work or live in the Republic of Lithuania in general education schools
- Order No. ISAK-556 on the Approval of the Description of the Procedure for Continuous Learning in General Education Programs (2005 and its amendments)
- Order No. V-417 on the General education plans for 2019–2020 and 2020–2021 school year
- Order No. V-774 on the description of requirements for teachers’ qualification
- Law on Vocational Education and Training No. VIII-450 (1997, new edition in 2018)
- Regulations of Teacher Education, Law No. V-501, 2018
- Ministry of Education, Science and Sport of the Republic of Lithuania website
- National Agency for Education website
- Education Management Information System
- Lithuanian Department of Statistics
- Eurostat: Government expenditure on education
- Eurostat: Public expenditure on education by education level and programme orientation
- Operational Programme for EU Structural Funds Investments for 2014-2020
- Financing Policies for Inclusive Education Systems (FPIES) Country Report: Lithuania
- Inclusive Early Childhood Education (IECE) – Lithuania Country Questionnaire
- An Overview of the State of Education 2019
Last updated 07/02/2020