Latviski English По-русски
Monday 19.02.2018 | Name days: Zane, Zuzanna

Lithuania’s new school year: extended, with defence and sexual education classes in curriculum

(+1 rating, 1 votes)

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RU

Linas Jegelevičius for the BNN

Fewer schoolchildren, and first-graders, too, but Lithuania’s new school year will be longer by 10 days, with the subjects of national defence and sex education courses added to the curriculum.

The former, officially known as a national security and defence education programme, is prepared jointly with the Defence Ministry and will be an optional course for senior secondary school students. Over 29,000 first-graders are expected to come to schools this September, down from almost 31,000 last year.

Education and Science Minister Jurgita Petrauskienė believes that the school year extension will allow to more evenly spread learning programs throughout the school year and that it should help students to improve their performance.

«Our objective is common: to ensure that each school is a place where the learning and the teaching is a good experience and that the children obtain knowledge that is useful in the modern life,» the minister underscored.

Interestingly, not the ministry itself will point how to use the extra days of the school year. The schools themselves will have to decide how to engage their schoolchildren during the first five days of the extension and the local municipalities, which are founders of local schools usually, will have to come up with ideas how to use the rest five days.

Only first graders’ school year will remain of the same duration, however it comes at the expense of shorter winter holidays.

Approached by BNN to weigh in on the decision to extend the school year, Laimutė Benetienė, the principle of Vladas Jurgutis secondary school in the Baltic sea resort town of Palanga, claimed that the school is «prepared» for a longer school year.

«As a result, our children will gain new skills,» she believes.

Meanwhile, her counterpart at «Baltija» secondary school, also in Palanga, was hesitant if the extension can do magic.

«Our school community largely opposes the extension. It will bring more unease and confusion only, I reckon. I have serious doubts whether it will help to tangibly improve the quality of the education. I’d rather want the bureaucracy that all the teachers deal with is reduced,» Alvydas Kniukšta, the school principle, told BNN.

Speaking about other novelties of the new school year, the Education minister discerned the emphasis being placed by the Ministry on the pupils‘ emotional wellbeing and safety.

Unlike in previous years, Lithuanian schools are obligated from the very first day of September to launch a school bullying prevention programme.

Among the other things, the schools with larger number of children who have lived in emigration will be requested to provide them extra three weekly hours of teaching at school if the children are bereft of proper conditions at home.

Throughout the new school year, the ministry intends to introduce an enhanced IT literacy programme. If all goes accordingly, even the first graders will be acquainted with it. Meanwhile, higher grade pupils will be given a possibility to learn the basics of finances.

In a major shift, the ministry spearheads another novelty: exhibiting public spirit at school and beyond it will add brownie points to the graduate’s diploma.

From this school year, the graduates will be able to optionally choose the so-called «essay of maturity.» In it, they will be encouraged to reveal their views of the world and the near surroundings. However, the essay will not replace the mandatory Lithuanian language exam.

Some of the hallmark changes may await the graduate students in the spring. After Ramūnas Karbauskis, the leader of Lithuania’s ruling coalition’s chief party, Farmers and Greens (LVŽS), opined that secondary schools should scrap the traditional graduation exam system, the Ministry of Education and Science is willing to embrace the idea and introduce a new evaluation system, one based on the graduate’s accumulative grades from the last two or three years. The idea of it is that the striving for academic accomplishments matters throughout all the years at school and they, not the grades from the graduation exams, must be of utmost importance.

«The essay of maturity we plan to introduce this school year would be a step to the accumulative grade,» the minister emphasised.

However, the conventional graduate exam system will likely linger in Lithuania.

«The secondary school graduation exams allow us to compare achievements among different schools.  Yet is the accumulative grade that most Western countries go with (in evaluating their graduate students’ academic proficiency),» the minister believes.

The duration of the ordinary class may also soon be subject to change with Gražvydas Kazakevičius, the deputy Education minister, calling the 45-minute class a «relic» from the 16th century.

«The learning ought to be ubiquitous – not only in the class,» he underscored.

The Lithuanian public, however, is not seemingly very receptive of the novelties and bristles against the prolonged school year and the optional defence classes in particular.

«Had we extended the school year not by 10 days but by two months, we would have the academic results on the level of the Singaporeans and the Finns…After the high school merge, our diploma will be tantamount to those from Harvard and Sorbonne Universities,» Darius Trečiakauskas posted a sardonic comment under a article on the school year.

Nastė Pakarklienė, another commenter, scolds the ministry for introducing military training in Lithuanian secondary schools.

«You big patriots, talk to some of the still alive elderly villagers who witnessed the post-war atrocities…They will tell you that only a mere 10 percent of the so-called «forest brothers” (that is how the patriotically inclined men who resisted Soviets are called) were partisans and the rest were ordinary bandits,» she wrote.

An anonymous poster quips that the ongoing reform of Lithuania’s education system reminds perestroika, an overhaul of the 1990s’ Soviet system spearheaded by the last leader of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev.

«What I see is a continuous process of changes without giving a thought about the aftermaths…Well, the Soviet Union collapsed. Is it what to expect from our national education system,» the commenter ponders.

Indrė Matulionytė, an adolescent commenter, suggested in the comments section under an article that a longer school year will do no good for anyone. «Look, with the days warmer in spring, nobody takes school seriously. It is silly to expect that schoolchildren will go to schools in summer. If the teacher is smart, she will simply let the children go home,» she says.

Meanwhile, the «traditionalists» and «liberals» -the latter on Lithuania’s social media are called despicably as «liberasts»by some – squabbled over the necessity of sexual education classes in Lithuanian schools. Many of the comments are filled with animosity toward each other’s notion.

But for many distinguished Lithuanians, talking about bees and birds is a natural thing that has been omitted in the Lithuanian education system until now.

«Things relating to sexual education are completely overlooked or snubbed at schools. All the teaching about sexual education is about a single thing: how to control sexual urges,» Artūras Rudomanskis, the chairman of Lithuania’s Association of Tolerant Youth (TJA), said.

He does not expect much from the new sexual education programme though, claiming that its authors have pandered to Lithuania’s influential Catholic Church.

A former Social Democratic parliamentarian, Giedrė Purvaneckienė, agrees, saying that Lithuanian educators shied away for many years from talking to schoolchildren about the birds and the bees.

«They just don’t have the obligation to do it. Of the European Union’s 28 Member States, only in eight of them, including Lithuania, sexual education is not mandatory at secondary schools,» she said. «Thus, we have a teenage pregnancy rate higher than the EU average, as well as homophobia and the consumption of contraceptive measures among adolescents is at a lower age in Lithuania among EU Member States,» she was quoted as saying recently.

Until now, two sexual education programmes – «Preparing for Family» and «Health Nurturing» – have been part of the school curriculum, but they have been optional, meaning the schools could choose whether to teach them or not.


Leave a reply

For Latvia’s Development: the prime minister is gone, but finance minister claims otherwise

«What we have observed in the past several days is that Latvia’s financial sector has received several heavy strikes as a result of the government’s uncoordinated and chaotic actions. Prime Minister Māris Kučinskis has evidently ‘disappeared’ and offers no clear plans to resolve the crisis, whereas Finance Minister Dana Reizniece-Ozola says different things in every interview. Such behaviour will not help resolve the crisis. It could instead pull the country’s financial sector in a much deeper crisis,» says chairman of For Latvia’s Development Juris Pūce.

Bank of Latvia provided ABLV Bank with a loan of 97.5 mln euros in exchange for securities pledge

The Bank of Latvia has provided ABLV Bank with a loan worth EUR 97.5 million in exchange for securities pledge, as confirmed by the financial institution.

Prime Minister: Bank of Latvia governor is not allowed to take official post

As a security measure, the governor of the Bank of Latvia Ilmārs Rimšēvičs has been applied with a prohibition to take post, said Latvian Prime Minister Māris Kučinskis after a meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers.

Poland's halt to logging in ancient forest came after irreparable damage

Although Poland has stated logging in the old-growth Bialowieza forest has been stopped, Warsaw has failed to reveal the amount of trees already cut down.

«A good friend» pays 100,000 euro bail for arrested governor of the Bank of Latvia

Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau (CPCB) has applied a bail of 100,000 euros for the arrested governor of the Bank of Latvia Ilmārs Rimšēvičs. The bail has already been paid to the State Treasury account, as confirmed by his lawyer Saulvedis Vārpiņš.

NP: ABLV blames Latvian officials for misleading foreign institutions

Last week, the reputation of Latvia’s second largest bank – ABLV – was seriously impacted. It is believed that money laundering was this bank’s main operation, and that it failed to comply with the prohibition on cooperation with North Korea. The bank is also accused of bribery. US Department of the Treasury Financial Crimes Enforcement Network rarely speaks so directly of any credit institution, says Nekā personīga programme.

Changes to third-country student residence in Estonia to add more responsibilities to university staff

The Estonian government has backed planned amendments are to the Aliens Law implementing an EU directive into Estonian law, which change how third-country nationals on enter and reside in Estonia if they are study or performing research work.

Russia criticises U.S. charges of Russian meddling in U.S. election

The Foreign Minister of Russia, Sergei Lavrov, has criticised the charges announced by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, against 13 Russian nationals and three companies for election meddling.

Government plans to form four riot prevention units in Latvian regions

The State Police plans to form four riot prevention units in Latvia’s regions, says Chief of State Police Ints Ķuzis.

Syrian Kurdish fighters under attack by Turkey announce deal with Syrian government forces

The mainly Kurdish militia in the north-west of Syria have announced having reached an agreement with the Syrian government for the latter to deploy its soldiers in order to help Kurds repel the current Turkish attack.

NCP: it is highly important to replace management of Bank of Latvia and FCMC

Considering recent events, which have not only impacted the country’s finance sector but also its international reputation, the New Conservative Party (NCP) demands immediate measures to be undertaken to replace the management of the Bank of Latvia and the Finance and Capital Market Commission. On top of that, it is also necessary to perform radical changes in the organization and supervision of those institutions, says NCP chairman Jānis Bordāns.

Air temperature in Latvia to gradually decline this week

On Monday, 19 February, atmospheric pressure will increase slightly in the north. With that, it is expected to snow only around Kurzeme’s south-west. Air temperature in most of Latvia will stay at -1° C… -6° C. In Kurzeme, however, air temperature will be around 0° C… +1° C, as reported by State Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

Week in Lithuania. Lithuania celebrating centennial of statehood

Leaders of European countries gathered in Vilnius on Friday, February 16, to celebrate the 100-year anniversary of restored statehood, and festive events were taking place in many cities and towns of Lithuania.

BNN summary of the week: minister threatened with dismissal; ABLV Bank scandal

BNN offers a summary of this week’s topical news in a variety of categories: Change; Fight; Court; Problem; Decline; Commentary; Future; Proposal

SRS uncovered violations in 169 inspections at catering companies last year

In 2017, the State Revenue Service (SRS) performed a total of 989 inspections at 212 catering companies. This includes 182 thematic inspections for 125 taxpayers. Violations were uncovered in 169 inspections. The most common violation was manipulation with cash registers, according to information published by SRS.

Russian tourists often decide to celebrate International Women’s Day in Riga

To satisfy growing demand for bus tickets from Russia to Latvia for the week when 8 March is celebrated, Lux Express plans to organize additional buses between St Petersburg and Riga.

FCMC to investigate ABLV Bank again; no operational restrictions applied to the bank

Latvia’s Finance and Capital Market Commission (FCMC) has plans to perform an additional investigation at ABLV Bank in the next couple of weeks, says the commission’s manager Pēters Putniņš, adding that no operational restrictions have been applied to the bank so far.

Study: overall sense of happiness in Latvia is record-low

60% of Latvian residents feel happy. Although this is a good index, there has been a general decline of the sense of happiness, according to a study performed by Amigo mobile network operator and SKDS to assess the level of happiness of Latvian residents.

Raid reveals some taxi drivers in Riga do not have valid driver’s license

A raid was performed by the State Revenue Service and Riga Municipal Police to check taxi service providers in the capital. Authorities uncovered a total of 81 violations in 48 cases, BNN was informed by SRS.

Estonia sea ice crash: last missing body found

Nine days after a van with six people inside drove onto the ice of the Baltic Sea in south-western Estonia, the body of the last victim has been found.

Delna invites immediate investigation of claims about ABLV Bank’s money laundering schemes

The decision by US Finance Ministry’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) to apply sanctions against ABLV Bank for involvement in money laundering schemes and bribery of officials was not a surprise. It is a sign for acute need to continue improving investigative and supervisory institutions’ ability to prevent money laundering through Latvia, as noted by Delna – Society for Openness.

Estonian income tax should be simplified, parties believe

The existing income tax scheme in Estonia should be simplified, three parties in the Estonian Riigikogu find, but there are differences in opinion as to maintaining the current state budget income. Meanwhile, the opposition Reform Party has voiced backing for an annual tax-free income of 6,000 a year to every earner.

Baltics propose increasing member states’ contributions to EU budget after Brexit

Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia invite European Union member states to increase contributions to the EU budget after 2020 in order to make sure available funds do not drop after UK’s exit.

Instagram obeys Russian internet censor to block content on corruption allegations

In the atmosphere of the March Russian presidential election, social network Instagram has submitted to the demands of Russia's internet censorship body and blocked in the country content with corruption claims voiced by Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny.

Teenager charged with U.S. school shooting has confessed

A day after a tragic school shooting in Florida, the U.S., where 17 people have been killed, the suspect 19-year-old Nicolas Cruz has confessed to police.