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15/09/2020   National Audit Office of Lithuania: changes in the education are taking place, but they do not yet ensure sufficient progress in the quality of education

Progress in pupils’ learning outcomes is not yet sufficient: the number of pupils and educational institutions is decreasing, funding for education is growing, but the gap between the learning outcomes of pupils growing in a favourable and unfavourable social, economic and cultural environment and attending small and large schools has not significantly decreased. This is evidenced by the audit “Do the Changes in the Education Determine Pupils’ Better Learning Outcomes?” conducted by the National Audit Office of Lithuania (NAOL).

Specific systemic measures are needed to bridge the gap and ensure a targeted increase in the overall level of pupils’ learning outcomes. Learning outcomes in reading, mathematics and natural science of fifteen-year-olds are below the 2018 OECD average, and the results of the assessment of general education achievements have not yet improved. About 30% of pupils study with tutors, other 22% would like to hire them if they had resources.

“Joint classes have fallen by 21% since 2016, but they still exist. It is worrying that there are 3 or more classes combined, as well as joint lessons for pupils of different ages and educated according to different programmes. Joining classes and lessons do not create opportunities to ensure education of equal quality for pupils, they also make the work for teachers burdensome”, says Lina Balėnaitė, Chief Advisor of the Public Welfare Audit Department.

In the period 2019–2020, less than a third of the municipalities provided additional funding for incomplete classes and their funding did not meet the need. In 2019, the education of one pupil in 50 schools assessed differed 6.6 times (from EUR 1.5 to 10.2 thousand).

Previous results of audits of general and pre-school education performed by NAOL show that in Lithuania education of equal quality is not ensured for all pupils, regardless of their socio-economic situation and where they live, either in cities or districts. NAOL made recommendations on how to ensure education of more equal quality for each pupil meeting their individual needs. Unfortunately, the recommendations are either not implemented or their implementation is delayed.

It should be noted that with the entry into force of the amendments to the law on remuneration and the allocation of funding for it, preconditions were created to achieve the objective set in the Government programme that the average salary of a full-time teacher, including taxes, should account to EUR 1,289 in 2020. This is how 35% of teachers of general education schools worked in Lithuania in 2019.

The auditors note that the scope of provision of modern education facilities at the Lithuanian schools is still too low. In schools, the average number of pupils per computer was 5 in 2019, compared with 9 in 53 rated schools. Quarantine and quarantine-related measures to provide pupils with computer technologies (computers, tablets) and Internet connection have led to a major positive leap in this field. In order to avoid this concentrated investment becoming one-off costs, it is important to maintain this breakthrough. To this end, measures should be envisaged and the funds needed for quality maintenance of equipment and communication should be planned in the future.

The audit was carried out for the period 2016–2019, but data from both previous and 2020 were also used for better assessment. The implementation of the audit recommendations at the national level would improve the quality of education and pupils’ learning outcomes, reduce the achievement gap between urban and rural areas, reduce social exclusion in the long run, increase the attractiveness of the teaching profession, and ensure transparent and fair remuneration.

Education remains a priority area for the NAOL. This topic will also be the focus of the forthcoming conference on the State’s sustainable development SIGNALS 2020. Previous NAOL audits in the field of education: pre-school education; students’ learning outcomes; vocational training organisation.

 

Responsible for the information Communication Division
Last updated on 5 October 2020

National Audit Office of Lithuania

Pamėnkalnio St 27, LT-01113 Vilnius, Phone: + 370 5 266 6793, + 370 5 266 6752, Email: nao@vkontrole.lt.