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Lithuania lags big behind Estonia in OECD global education rating

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Linas Jegelevičius for the BNN

Several Lithuanian universities and colleges offer identical or similar study programmes, but the graduates end up being on different rungs of the ladder after the graduation, career opportunities-wise and in terms of the wage.

Having analysed more than 70 study programmes and specialties, Lithuanian magazine Reitingai (Ratings) has compiled the country’s Almae Matres, gauging the depth of the study programmes and weighing the graduates’ job prospects. However, internationally, Lithuania, education-wise, is doing unimpressively and is no match to Estonia.

Vilnius University is No1

They key finding is that those cherishing hopes to land a dream job whenever, should choose studies in Vilnius University. The Alma Mater, the research reveals, is also No1 for studies of economics, law, philosophy and psychology. The runner-up is Kaunas Magnus University, which programmes of business management and economics scored best among the other surveyed schools.

Jone Kučinskaitė, one of the compilers of university and college ratings, believes that the evaluation of schools will come in handy to future students and their parents.

«I believe that the standings will help them pick right high schools, which offer more not only in terms of the educational facilities but, notably, score well with the employers because of the graduates’ professionalism,» she explained.

In drawing up the best university list, the magazine heavily relied on the findings of sociological research company «Prime consulting», which surveyed 2150 employers, asking them to opine which schools forge most skilled workforce.

With big investments big fruits are little

Among the other criteria, were former students’ feedbacks on the schools they had graduated from, as well as data from the Study Quality Evaluation Centre.

With Vilnius University being beyond challenge among universities, so was Vilnius College among Lithuanian colleges. It was recognized that 17 bachelorette degree programmes it offers are the best among the other identical or similar programmes at other colleges. Kaunas College was a runner-up with seven study programmes considered to be the best and Klaipeda State College was third with a single programme believed to be better than elsewhere.

Commenting on the results, Gintaras Sarafinas, editor-in-chief of Reitingai, noted that, over the last dozen of years, the EU investments into Lithuanian high schools have been heavy; however, the youth’s preparedness to study was a big issue.

«The conditions that the schools have are really great and the laboratories remind space ships; the libraries are open 24 hours a day and the facilities subscribe to the best and most recent research data. All what is needed is the young people’s will and determination to enrol and study and get best they can from the schools. Alas, the majority’s enrolment marks are really catastrophic. Therefore, the employers have stopped long ago to pay any attention to the high education diplomas,» Sarafinas told Lithuanian media.

Gapes in teacher salaries

Echoing, Alfonsas Daniūnas, president of Lithuania’s University Rectors Council, and rector of Vilnius Gediminas Technical University, claims that it is «good» to see how some universities’ study programmes are just more solid than their rivals’.

Meanwhile, Pranas Žiliukas, president of LAMA BPO, a governmental body in charge of secondary school pupils’ examining and admission to high schools, emphasised that the Reitingai ratings have exposed deepening contrasts in Lithuanian education.

«Although the examining system has been subject to ample criticism, yet it reflects best where our education stands,» he noted, adding that the other acute issue is teachers’ and professors’ salaries.

«They areeffectively the same since 2007, when the so-called student «basket»model was introduced in Lithuania. Quite paradoxically, today, secondary school teachers earn more that the professors or associate professors,” he added.

The magazine also rated Lithuanian secondary schools according their pupils’ accomplishments in exams.

Lithuania 36th in OECD PISA ranking

However, the Reitingai findings were overshadowed by the PISA survey on global education from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) released this week. The OECD’s PISA 2016 tested around 540,000 15-year-old students in 72 countries and economies on science, reading, maths and collaborative problem-solving. The results of Lithuania‘s 15-year-olds in science, reading, maths and collaborative problem-solving capacities have deteriorated, as compared with three years ago, with Lithuania finishing 36th in the overall ranking.

The survey concluded that Singapore outperforms the rest of the world in education. Having evaluated the quality, equity and efficiency of school systems, OECD put Estonia, Finland and Canada on top of the list.

«Estonians‘ accomplishments are phenomenal, especially that nearly all the countries dropped in the ranking since the last compilation, not Estonia, however.  Unfortunately, the results of Lithuanian pupils have dipped in many categories,» noted Rita Dukynaitė, a member of PISA Board.

She chalked up Estonia’s amazing achievement to very purposeful education, heeding schools’ needs and prioritizing teachers’ skills improvement.

Short school year to be blamed?

Yet the PISA representative did not chastise Lithuanian pupils, noting that, in Lithuania, a school year is one of the shortest, world-wise.

«Having the shortest school year, we cannot expect to achieve dazzling results,»she summed up.

Nerijus Mačiulis, a prominent Lithuanian economist, also opined on PISA findings, saying that the evaluation by the international education body of Lithuanian 15-year-olds’academic results were «frightening»to him.

«The evaluation our pupils’ scientific and math skills not only lowered a bit, but did not get any closer to the OECD average. In that regard, we are just 36th among appraised 69 countries, i.e. on the very bottom of the European Union. To further deepen our disappointment, Estonia has outstripped Finland and now ranks third in the world,» the economist wrote on Facebook.

Referring to the new Lithuanian Government’s programme, he underscored that it is not tackling Lithuanian education’s issues «in depth.»

«And the extremely long holidays that Lithuanian schoolchildren enjoy, 13 weeks altogether, which is twice longer than in Germany or the Great Britain,  really do not work in favour of our pupils’ academic results,» Mačiulis emphasised.

Ref: 020/111.111.111.4510


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