Adult Education in Lithuania

Dalia Cymbaliuk


The history and tradition of Lithuanian adult education traces to the second part of the 19th century when a famous Lithuanian bishop Motiejus Valancius widely spread ideas of education. In the soviet period (1939-1990) adult education was basically promulgated by the state to improve vocational skills and qualification and had much of the formal character. Ideas of keeping Lithuanian national identity, culture and language were carried out through various cultural activities, amateur folk dance, song and craft groups and circles. The spirit of national identity was kept through this non-formal form of adult education and was to be put on its full potential in gaining Lithuanian independence.

After Independence Lithuania has started an active process of integration into the democratic world and integration into the Western market economy. The years of Independence also mark the beginning and development of modern adult education in Lithuania.

Adult education includes formal, non-formal and informal learning in order to improve (gain) general skills, encourage personal development and increase access to employment, to acquire new or improve existing competencies, retraining of the labor market needs.

General task of adult education is to provide learning opportunities for all, and especially to those who need them most – socially disadvantaged groups (low-skilled workers, the unemployed, adults, who have special needs, the elderly people, migrants, etc.).

Priority areas :

  • Making lifelong learning and mobility a reality, improving access to education for all;
  • Adult education quality and efficiency improvement;
  • Promoting equal opportunity, social cohesion and active citizenship, participation in social and cultural learning for personal development and self-realization ;
  • Encourage creativity and innovation,  to improve the learning environment for adults ;
  • To improve and monitoring the knowledge base.

The laws, reforms and events that have made the most influence on adult education in Lithuania after Independence.

General Concept of Education in Lithuania, 1992 – one of the most important documents of reform in the system of education. The issues discussed therein are: the entire structure of an educational system, general upbringing of children and youth, vocational training for youth, higher education, adult education, pedagogue training, management and financing of education, and support services for the process of training (scientific information, psychological, and medical). This concept declared the fundamental principles of Lithuanian education – (1) humanism, (2) democracy, (3) commitment to Lithuanian culture and identity and (4) renewal..

Law on Education, 1991, establishes the foundations governing the structure, activities and management of educational institutions (with the exception of the institutions of higher education) of the Republic of Lithuania. Education of the adults provided at the educational institutions of the following type:
Adult secondary schools;
Vocational schools;
Institutions of higher education;
Institutions of additional and non-formal education.

Law on Vocational Education and Training, 1997 establishes the structure and administration of the vocational education and training (VET) system of the republic of Lithuania, based upon co-operation of the state government institutions and social partners, and also regulates organization of VET. The Law indicates that admission to labour market vocational training is intended for the persons over 18 years of age, while those younger shall be included only if they have already acquired initial vocational training.

Law on Non-formal adult education, 1998 aims to “regulate the system of non-formal adult education, establish basic principles of its structure, activities and management. The objective of the Law is to provide the participants, providers and social partners of non-formal adult education with legislative guarantees, to help the implementation of inborn human right for lifelong development of one’s personality, to warrant individual with opportunities to acquire the knowledge and skills that one needs to be a citizen of democratic State and to be a specialist in a certain profession, to contribute for the creative and sensible use of leisure”.

The Law also defines the main forms of non-formal adult education:
1. Organized purposeful self education;
2. Courses (day-time, evening-time, continuous, short-term, etc.);
3. Distant education;
4. Educational programmes provided by mass media.

All regulations acts can be found in the Lithuanian Parliament legislative database

After Lithuania became a member of the European Union, the development of adult education has become one of priorities of the Lithuanian Educational Policy. The planning and implementation of the Lithuanian policy on the development of lifelong learning is based on the Strategy for Ensuring Lifelong Learning and the Action Plan for its Implementation approved by the the Ministers of Education and Science and Social Security and Labour. The Strategy sets out three basic types of adult education and training activities: formal, non-formal and self education:

  • Formal adult education includes general education, vocational education and training, and higher education.
  • The purpose of non-formal adult education is to provide an individual with conditions for lifelong learning, meet the needs of cognition, upgrade the qualification already acquired and acquire additional qualifications.
  • Self-education (informal learning) is a natural daily self-directed process of learning which may not necessarily be premeditated; it is less organised and structured and may be driven by personal motives or professional and family circumstances.
  • Rent of premises;

The EC Memorandum on Lifelong Learning discussion gave a new impetus to review the whole system of education, to rethink the existing situation, the direction, challenges. It was discussed “what should be done in order that every inhabitant of Lithuania acquires a quality basic education and all the skills” (Report, 2001) for life and labor market so as to feel an integral citizen of the world. “The discussion encouraged to set up and strengthen cooperation between different education institutions and other partners that are interested in human resources development and lifelong learning” (Report, 2001).

The system of non-formal adult education today

Goals of Non-formal Adult Education
The major goals of non-formal adult education are:
1)  to help individual to satisfy his (her) self-education needs and to develop his cultural interests;
2) to develop individual’s creative capacities and abilities;
3) to help individual to become an active citizen of the democratic society;
4) to create conditions for acquisition of theoretical knowledge and practical skills needed for individual’s professional activities and for upgrading qualification.

The Directions of Non-formal Adult Education
Non-formal adult education includes:

  • Fostering of an individual’s general culture;
  • Acquisition and upgrading of knowledge and skills needed for individual’s professional activities.

The Forms of Non-formal Adult Education
The main forms of non-formal adult education are:

  •  Seminars, lectures;
  •  courses (day-time, evening-time, continuous, short-term and others);
  • distance learning;

Various forms of non-formal learning takes place in different institutions and organizations:

  • specialized educational institutions
  • NGOs and public organizations
  • high folk schools
  • private education and business organizations
  • libraries and museums

Non-formal adult education courses may be developed and provided by Lithuanian non-formal adult education institutions, and also general education, vocational education and training schools, colleges and higher schools that have set up/established non-formal adult education units (divisions, groups, etc.), other juridical and natural persons, who have been authorized to provide non-formal adult education according to the procedure established by the Government or other Government-authorized institution. This provision is not necessarily applicable to a single ad hoc non-formal education events organized by natural persons.

Responsible public body

  • Ministry of Education and Science;
  • Education Exchanges Support Foundation.
  • Ministry of Social Affairs.

Relevant umbrella organizations

  • The Lithuanian Association of Adult Education
  • The Lithuanian Adult Education Centres Leaders Association

Funding and support of non-formal adult education

Interested juridical and natural persons and participants can finance non-formal adult education. It can also be funded from municipalities or State budget according to the procedure established by the Government or Government-authorized institution.

Funds, necessary to upgrade professional qualification and requalify civil servants   shall be granted from municipal or State budgets according to the procedure established by the Government or Government-authorized institution. These funds   shall make up not more than 3 percent of the annual salary fund of the institutions maintained by the said budgets.

Courses for the unemployed, including those, who wish to start their own business and other persons in search for the employment, who wish to acquire new or to change present qualification, shall order regional Labour Exchange and finance them from the Employment Fund according to the procedure established by the Law on Support of Unemployed.