6.6 Social inclusion through education and training
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Since regaining independence in 1990, Lithuania has clearly stated the importance of education to societal development. The National Education Strategy 2013-2022 includes a focus on education as a foundation for the future and a commitment to increase the level of investment from public funds in education to 6% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 2022. Lithuania seeks to improve the quality of education provided to persons with special education needs (SEN) in accordance with the principles of equality of opportunities, accessibility, inclusive education and quality assurance. Further information on educational support is available on Euridyce website:
The choice of opportunities for young people in rural areas of Lithuania is rather limited, and inequality in accessibility of education services between cities and the countryside prevails. Regional disparities are large, in big cities wages are higher than in rural areas. Women’s wages are lower than men’s, which worsens women’s life conditions (see Moterys ir vyrai Lietuvoje 2016), despite that the Law on Equal Treatment, entered in 2005, ensures equal rights for all people in Lithuania in spite of age, sexual orientation, disability, racial or ethnic origin, religion or beliefs. Disposable income of rural residents stands below urban average by one-third. Lithuania’s population has been declining (according to 2011 census data, in the period between 1989 and 2011, the country has lost 17.2 of its residents, and the population drop was accelerating over time). High levels of out-migration from rural areas are often followed by side effects such as an ageing population and lower birth rates in the “losing” regions (see Ubareviciene, 2016). Moreover, higher education institutions in Lithuania are concentrated in the cities and young people may experience exclusion from education due to lower income and remote place of residence. The secondary education in Lithuania has experienced many reforms, due to which (and low birth rates) many small primary and secondary schools in rural areas have been closing down. This may be a reason why the level of ELET (aged 18-24 years old) in rural areas is higher than in cities.