THE VOICE OF INTERNATIONAL LITHUANIA
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Minister of Education and Science
Starting the new school year, our focus of attention remains the same – fostering innovation and creativity.
More freedom to schools
Last year our schools started to work according to new curriculum programmes based on promoting practical use of knowledge and developing skills of independent learning. Our aim is to create an educational basis enabling kids not only to gain knowledge, but also to know, how to use it in practice. New programmes allow schools and teachers to choose the learning content, to decide what and how to teach.
Lithuanian schools possess high level of academic excellence and the credit goes to hardworking teachers and pupils. They continually win medals at international Olympiads. A graduate of a Kaunas gymnasium became the best young scientist of the European Union in 2011.
Electronic backpacks for fifth-graders
The Ministry of Education and Science plans to provide around 100 schools with tablet computers, they will be used by up to 10 thousand fifth-graders. Last year only, three educational websites were created for 5 to 8-graders where pupils can learn natural sciences and Lithuanian language by playing and conducting virtual experiments. In addition to virtual laboratories, classrooms of gymnasiums and secondary schools were supplied with new teaching resources for art and technology classes and state of the art laboratory equipment for natural sciences.
Almost 80 percent of the schools in Lithuania have exchanged the regular paper grade books for electronic ones. During the last 4 years, there was an explosion of electronic grade books. In this area we are leaders not only among the countries of our region, but also in Europe.
Electronic grade books not only lighten workload for teachers. They can be accessed online by parents and house school records, including grades, assignments, progress, attendance, schedules, as well as teacher notes.
Better access to after school activities
Unfortunately, as a result of demographic crisis, less kids come to school every year and we are faced with the necessity to close some smaller schools. At the same time, new educational opportunities arise. This year in rural areas 36 multifunctional community centers will open the doors, among other functions they can serve as pre-, primary or basic schools.
It is very important to make our classrooms vibrant, to give our kids access not only to interactive learning, but also to educational after school activities. Starting this October, 4 municipalities will test-drive non-formal education vouchers. We expect the new finance model to allow better access to after school activities, the percentage of children involved is expected to rise from 20 to 50 percent.
Professional development opportunities for teachers
Professional training and retraining for teachers is another area where investments are crucial. During next couple of years, over 8 thousand teachers will be able to participate in different training activities. Special attention is being paid to starting teachers.
Teachers today face a great challenge to help children, growing up under constant information, data and technology siege, not to loose natural keenness to be creative, to generate and implement new ideas, to keep individual outlook.
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