HOME SCHOOLING / INTERNATIONAL
Lithuania
Lithuania

December 19, 2008

Lithuania: Another Homeschooling Movement Begins

A young Lithuanian family devoted to discipleship through home education is pioneering the movement for their people.

In September of 2008, ten international homeschool leaders joined HSLDA’s annual National Homeschool Leadership Conference. The following is an update from Gintas and Ina Juoniai, one of only two Lithuanian homeschooling families and the head of Šeimos mokyklų namuose draugija, the Lithuanian homeschool association. By God’s grace, the Juoniais are pioneering the home education movement for their people.

Meet the Juoniai Family

Gintas Juoniai and his wife, Ina, are a Lithuanian homeschooling family, but they currently reside in Norway.

Both Gintas and Ina trusted the Lord Jesus Christ as their personal Savior as young adults and they now have a family of four children (two boys and two girls) ranging in age from 8 months to 8 years old.

When their first daughter was born 8 years ago, Gintas and Ina felt strongly that they should take full responsibility for this precious gift from the Lord. So instead of enrolling her in an institution for school, the Juoniais kept their daughter at home, along with the children that followed. After several years of home educating alone, the family met Curtis and Sandra Lovelace, who came alongside them with love and encouragement. (Contact the Lovelaces at info@LifeworkForum.org and www.lifeworkforum.org.)

The Juoniais’ Homeschool Philosophy—Family Discipleship and Academic Excellence

Gintas and Ina homeschool because they believe it is best for their children:

  1. It teaches them the truth – the Bible, God’s Word.
  2. It teaches them to know the Creator – the only Living God.
  3. It fulfills the parents’ responsibility to educate their children.
  4. It allows the children to enjoy learning and flexibility, to cultivate their interests, giving them as much time as they need to learn the subject.
  5. It cultivates deeper family relationships.
  6. It shows good academic results.

Pioneering the Movement

Gintas and Ina’s desire is to love the Lord with all of their hearts and souls and strength, to raise their children for God’s glory and His Kingdom, and to be His faithful servants and walk His path of truth each and every day. Not only do they strive for this in their own family, but they also long to share God’s plan for the family and homeschooling with others. To this end, they have started the Lithuanian Homeschool Association Šeimos mokyklų namuose draugija, which they are publicizing through www.smnd.lt.

Although they are only one of two known Lithuanian homeschooling families, Gintas and Ina are persevering, and they continue to reach out to other European families. One of their ultimate goals is to form a coalition of Christian homeschooling families in Europe.

Earlier in 2008, Lifework Forum, run by Curtis and Sandra Lovelace, held a homeschool conference at Gintas and Ina’s home. Nationals from Norway, Lithuania, Finland, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Jamaica (via England), Cambodia, and the USA participated.

Lithuania’s Homeschooling Legal Climate

The Constitution of the Lithuanian Republic states that primary and secondary education is free until age 16, that everyone has a right to an education, and that education is compulsory. School attendance is mandatory for children ages 7 to 16. There is no state religion in Lithuania; the school system is secular.

Lithuania’s Law on Education guarantees a parent’s right to choose an educational institution for his or her children. However, parents must comply with local school requirements to homeschool. The law allows homeschooling (referred to as “self-education” or “independent studies”) as long as parents generally follow the state curriculum and have children examined by local school officials once or twice per year.

Children wishing to be homeschooled must be listed with a local state or private school, must sign a contract with that school (parents sign on behalf of the child until he or she is 14), and apply for permission to be homeschooled.

Then it is up to the school authorities to establish and oversee the order. There is a so-called “order of independent studies” in which it is stated that “independent studies for a learner can be organized only by the school which has an educational program chosen by the learner.” Usually this order is applied to gifted children and only in some schools, so local schools are not always aware of the provision.

The Law of Education states: “Parents (foster parents, guardians) must send their children who have reached the age of 6-7 to school,” and “A learner has the right according to his abilities and needs, to study at school or independently and attain an education level and qualification that meets state standards, to study according to an individual program of studies, to study in a psychologically, emotionally and physically safe environment based on mutual respect, to have a learning workload and a workplace that conform to health (hygiene) requirements.”

Article 18 states this about self-education: “The purpose of self-education is to provide an individual with possibilities for continuous independent learning supported by the surrounding information space (libraries, media, Internet, museums, etc.) and life experience gained from other persons,” and, “A person’s competence acquired by way of self-education may be recognized as being a part of a formal education program or a qualification as prescribed by the government or its authorized institution.”

The number of Lithuanian children who are being homeschooled is not clear because children being taught at home are registered at a local school and counted as a “normal case.” The statistics that are available indicate that homeschooling may be gaining popularity:

  • Total number of students reduced from 601,752 in 2001 to 511,306 in 2007;
  • 66 % of children aged at 1-6 years in urban areas and 14 % in rural areas attending pre-school establishments (2003);
  • 99.7 % of students were in the State schools (2002);
  • Half of students take ethics and half take religion classes where 81 % are in Latin Catholic class;
  • 631 children (age 7-16) were not attending school in 2005. Only 97 were due to disability and other 534 due to: reluctance to study, conflicts with teachers, willingness to work, asocial families, poor health, etc.

A Prayer for Europe

Article 2 of Protocol 1 of the European Convention on Human Rights states: “No person shall be denied the right to education. In the exercise of any functions which it assumes in relation to education and to teaching, the State shall respect the right of parents to ensure such education and teaching in conformity with their own religions and philosophical convictions.”

Gintas and Ina’s prayer is that this article will not disappear or be lost in long corridors of bureaucracy and wrong interpretations. They ask that we keep Europe in our prayers, specifically that families will have enough strength to keep Gods commandments:

These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Deuteronomy 6:6-7 (NIV)

You can provide financial support to the homeschooling movement in countries like Lithuania by donating to the Home School Foundation’s International Homeschooling Fund.