1. Compare the Lithuanian education system with the system of any other country (UK, USA, France). Point out similarities and differences.
• In the United States education differs according to the state. In each school the „principal,“ i.e. the headmaster of the school, decides the curriculum for each grade in his own school. Meanwhile in Lithuania it is unified and regulated by the Ministry of Education and Science.
• As well as in other countries, in Lithuania children start school at age of 6 or 7. Most of them learn to count, write or read in kindergarten, which has become a part of primary school.
• In Lithuania as well as in the USA children go to school 5 days a week. There is no school on Saturdays and Sundays. While in France students have free Wednesday and Sunday. However, in high schools they study all week long from Monday to Saturday.
• The school year begins in September and ends in June. There are three terms in Basic school and two semesters in senior forms.
• Lessons begin at 8 o’clock in the morning in Lithuania and in America the typical school day starts at 8.30 or 9.00 am with the salute to the American flag. In the UK there is an assembly held every morning before classes. Each lesson in our country lasts 45 minutes, the breaks are 5-25 minutes long. Meanwhile in Britain the length differs: the last lessons are shorter than the first ones and last only 20 minutes. It seems to be very sensible because students get tired during the day.
• Till the children are 16 years old the school is compulsory. The education (in public schools) is free, but some children are attending private schools. They are very expensive but considered to provide a better education and good job opportunities.
• The stages of education in Lithuania are similar as in other countries, just they are called differently: Primary school (1st-4th forms), Basic school (5th-10th forms) and Secondary school (11th-12th forms). Secondary schools as well as British Comprehensives incorporate all schoolchildren into one scheme. The children are, therefore, of mixed abilities and may come from a wide variety of social backgrounds. There are also other types of secondary school, such as gymnasiums, lyceums and international baccalaureate schools.
• At the age of 16, children take exams in Maths and Lithuanian. In France they have to pass exams in 3 subjects: French, Maths, History or Geography. In England children may take exams in various subjects in order to have GCSE’s (the General Certificate of Secondary Education) or ‘O’ (ordinary) level qualifications, students can choose any number of subjects in their curriculum; some may take 6 or 7, some only 2. Afterwards they can leave schools and start working; in Lithuania there are also youth and vocational schools, which offer both secondary education and the qualification. Or students may continue their studies in the same school as before.
• In senior classes the teaching is profiled. Students may choose the humanities or exact sciences. Meanwhile in France there are general and technical branches. When they are 18, in all countries they have to pass further examinations. In the UK they are called ‘A level’ (Advanced or Academic level), students normally take 2 or 3 exams, which are necessary for getting into university or college. In our country graduates may take from 4 to 6 exams in various subjects (only Lithuanian is compulsory) in order to get School Leaving Certificate. Brighter students usually choose state exams, which are more difficult, but very important for entering higher school. Students can apply for up to 20 specialties in different universities. The results are calculated into points and determine which higher school student can enter. As well as in France there are no entrance exams.
• Higher education isn’t free in Lithuania. Only the best students still don’t have to pay for studies. Government was going to introduce a fixed study fee, but many tutors objected and suggested to admit all students, who can afford to pay full charge. In the future they should receive loans on easy terms, but now they are usually supported by their parents, or try to find jobs. Meanwhile in the USA higher education is very expensive in private colleges and universities, but it is much cheaper in those supported by states and cities. Many students receive a scholarship from the university or have part-time jobs to help pay their expenses.
• In England there are 47 universities, the oldest and the most prestige ones are Oxford and Cambridge. The most outstanding America’s higher schools are Harvard, Yale, Columbia and Princeton. In Lithuania there are 26 higher education institutions: 16 autonomous universities and some colleges (non-university higher schools). The universities, as well as in other countries, award Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees, you can also strive for doctoral or professor’s degree.
2. Express your opinion on the ideal school: subjects, curriculum, teachers, marks, uniforms, textbooks, school atmosphere, extra-curricular activities, examinations, etc.There are a lot of disadvantages in school life, which could be changed:
• The atmosphere. At present in schools, especially in large ones, racket and bullying are wide spread. Students from asocial families usually don’t concern themselves about studies and future life. Instead, they blackmail, frighten,
sometimes even hurt younger and physically weaker schoolchildren in order to get money for cigarettes, drugs, alcohol. What is more, students rival in all possible fields. It’s rather positive, if they try to reach better results in their studies and to get higher grades. But rivalry becomes ridiculous or even cruel, when it concerns appearance, e.g. girls are trying to lose as much weight or distinguish for expensive fashionable clothes, shoes. Those, who can’t afford it, are scoffed and humiliated. As the profiled teaching is introduced, the atmosphere gets even worse: students have to adapt themselves to new classmates, old friends, who know each other from the first form, now are separated.