Language Education Policy Profile

The Development of Bilingual Education

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2.3 The Development of Bilingual Education

In addition to the variations among schools attended by minorities discussed in section 3.2 above, there appear to some differences among schools in their willingness to adopt and implement the bilingual education approach. Details about this dimension of minority education in Lithuania are scarce, but Hogan-Brun & Ramoniene (2004) note that

“Lithuania's Ministry of Education n September 2001 launched the project 'Development of Bilingualism’, whose aim it is to provide for open multicul­tural education, in which the identity of all students is respected, and where the learning content enhances their bilingual development. Five bilingual models with some different directions and priorities were proposed for adop­tion by schools (Table 28, below). .Every school is free to adjust the chosen model according to staff qualifications and pupils' needs. As yet, only two schools have decided to embark on developing their own models; no details on these developments are available to date. The implementation of these new educational developments is being steered by the Education Development Centre in Vilnius who act as consultants to the schools. They will also supply the Ministry of Education with an analysis of emerging needs97

The details in Table 28 are attributed to the Ministry of Education. It appears, therefore, that the existence of a number of ‘Lithuanian mainstream schools with a high proportion of pupils from ethnic minority communities’, already discussed in Section 3.2 above, is also acknowledged by the Ministry. Secondly only a small number of minority language schools appear to be participating in the project.

Table 29: Proposed models for bilingual schooling in Lithuania in August 200198


Type of school:

Educational aim:

Adopted in 2001by:


Lithuanian mainstream primary schools

with a high proportion of pupils from ethnic

minority communities

initially offering some subjects in the

ethnic language; plus lessons in the

ethnic language and in Lithuanian as

a second language offered.

Five schools


Mixed secondary schools (Russian-Polish,

Lithuanian-Polish, Lithuanian-Russian-Folish

classes) with a small number of pupils

where the language of instruction varies

in the classes; aim: to offer some subjects

in Lithuanian when the communicative

competence of Lithuanian as a second

language is sufficient.

Three schools


Minority secondary schools

offering 1-3 subjects in Lithuanian

(up to 7 subjects in some schools).

Fourteen schools


Minority secondary schools

offering 1-3 subjects in Lithuanian

(up to 7 subjects in some schools),

plus covering out-of-school activities.

Ten schools


All schools

option to develop their individual model.

Two schools

Source: Hogan-Brun & Ramoniene 2004, attributed to ‘Ministry of Education, Vilnius; unpublished data’.

Although this is a project with considerable scope and potential, very few details are available, and no assessment appears to have been published. Although Hogan-Brun & Ramoniene (2004) claim that ‘Models 3 and 4 have proved particularly successful,’ they provide no evidence to support this assessment. Kasatkina & Beresneviciute (2004), who also describe the project, simply report that ‘According to representatives of the Ministry of Education and Science, schools with the instruction in the Polish language are more passive in getting involved in projects of such type’99.

2.4 Teaching Minority Languages as subjects

Article 14 of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities recognises the right of every person belonging to a national minority to learn his or her minority language. While in Lithuania that right is obviously accorded to those who receive their education in their mother tongue, the data show that there is an unknown, but potentially large and growing number of students who have wholly or partially assimilated to Lithuanian but who have retained a non-Lithuanian identity. The needs of these pupils to have the opportunity to study their ethnic language is tacitly acknowledged in Model 1 of the Bilingual Project, but this does not appear to have been implemented in practice. (Some element of this demand is currently being met outside the formal education system, e.g. some 38 Sunday Schools have been established100.)

The revised County Report points out that Article 30 of the new Law on Education 2003 now makes it possible for minority students to learn all minority languages in a school curriculum as well as in the informal education sector.

‘It means that persons belonging to national minorities have the opportunity to be taught their minority language, not only in the schools in which the educational process is traditionally conducted with the Polish or Russian languages as languages of instruction but as well in every school of Lithuania. This is especially important for the small minority groups101.’

However, it also should be noted that the new Law restricts the operation of this commitment to situations where ‘ there is a real need’, and ‘provided that the school has a language specialist available’. It remains to be seen how the concept of ‘real need’ is defined in practice, and what, if any, additional financial resources will be made available to ensure that schools have the required language specialists.

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