Country information for Lithuania - Teacher education for inclusive education
Initial teacher education
Universities and colleges admit secondary school graduates to train to become pre-primary, primary or subject teachers. Higher non-university and university studies are available. In Lithuania, special needs education teachers have a university education. These specialists, who might have different specialisations, attain a bachelor’s or master’s degree in special needs education. Learners with disabilities and impairments, e.g. hearing, visual impairments, intellectual or pervasive developmental disabilities, multiple disabilities or speech and language impairments, can be taught in groups or classes by teachers qualified in special pedagogy. Pupils with health issues, movement and posture disorders or behavioural and emotional disorders are taught by pre-school, pre-primary, primary education or subject teachers.
Every teacher who works in pre-school or primary school or as a subject, vocational or supplementary informal education teacher must complete at least 60 hours of training in special needs education and psychology. This is stated in the Requirements for the Qualification of Teachers (2014-08-29 No. V-774, par. 9). Since 2019, teachers who work in vocational or supplementary informal education must also complete at least 60 hours of training in special needs education and psychology before 31 August 2020 (all teachers already had this obligation). This is stated in the supplement to the Requirements for the Qualification of Teachers (2019-07-16 No. V-831).
After graduation from their study programme in Initial Teacher Education, every teacher must acquire general and special competences which are necessary to be an inclusive teacher. The practical training period, which is at least 30 credits, enhances the skills for being a quality inclusive teacher. Monitoring of life-long learning for the inclusivity of in-service teachers is not effective, so the system should be better developed in the future.(Regulations of Teacher Education, approved by an order by the Minister of Education and Science from 2018-05-29 No V-501).
In the 2018–2019 school year, in general education schools there were 451 speech therapists, 452 psychologists, 456 special pedagogues, 911 social pedagogues, 17 pedagogues for learners with hearing impairments and 7 pedagogues for learners with visual impairments. Since the 2014–2015 school year, the number of pedagogues providing support for learners with special educational needs (SEN) is decreasing (Source: Lithuanian Department of Statistics). The lack of specialists concerns not only support teachers, but also the teaching workforce in general. The Ministry of Education, Science and Sport therefore recently started to implement various measures which aim to raise the prestige of teaching professions. This includes raising salaries for all pedagogical professions. Some municipalities also create their own programmes to attract young professionals to schools.
Schools provide educational assistance in two ways: by employing support staff or contracting relevant specialists from the pedagogical-psychological service that serves the school. Special pedagogical assistance for learners with disabilities is provided on a contractual basis when it is not advisable to set up a specialist post due to the low number of pupils in the school.
All teachers and other specialists working in special schools have the necessary qualifications to educate learners with SEN and disabilities.
In-service teacher training
Pursuant to the Law on Education, a teacher is obliged to engage in professional development. A teacher is entitled to attend professional development events on at least five days per year. They may seek a performance evaluation and may acquire a qualification category. Consistent professional development leads to a higher salary and better career opportunities.
Professional development institutions provide their services for a fee. Most professional development events are funded from the state and municipal budgets.
All teachers have the opportunity to attend in-service teacher training courses offered by regional teacher education centres, teacher professional development centres or higher institutions in order to enhance their knowledge or acquire a specialisation in special education.
The in-service teacher training system is undergoing further development so that teachers can access a wider variety of programmes on inclusive education. Each year, some financing from the Ministry for in-service and initial teacher education programmes is allocated to special needs education.
The Ministry of Education, Science and Sport re-established the Department of Teachers’ Activities in 2015. It was responsible for policy and strategy and developing teachers’ qualifications, in the context of the implementation of the Life-Long Learning Strategy (2004) and the ‘Plan of action for the development of inclusive education for the period of 2014–2016’ (approved by the Minister of Education and Science, 2014, law No. V-808) (Source: IECE – Lithuania Country Questionnaire, p. 10). The Ministry approved the Regulations of Teacher Education (2018-05-29 No. V-501) and created three teacher education centres to enhance the quality of initial teacher education. The most qualified teacher educators/trainers are employed in the centres. They also plan to introduce new study programmes.
Further information about educational reform in Lithuania is available from the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport website.
Last updated 07/02/2020