Waldorf education in Lithuania

By Peter Lang, January 2013

Waldorf education gained a foothold in Lithuania in 1996. In the meantime it has been recognised by the education ministry. The number of teachers and institutions is growing.

Lithuania is a small country on the Baltic. Many ethnic groups with their own cultural and religious characteristics have left their mark on it. In the twentieth century Lithuania became the plaything of the then superpowers, the Soviet Union on the one hand and Nazi Germany on the other. Tens of thousands of people lost their lives; only very few Lithuanian Jews survived the German occupation and at the end of the Second World War tens of thousands of Lithuanians disappeared into the Soviet prison camps under Stalin. 

The last attempt to force Lithuania, which in 1990 proclaimed its independence from the then Soviet Union, back into the Soviet sphere of influence occurred on 13 Ja­nuary 1991, on so-called Bloody Sunday. The Soviet president, Mikhail Gorbachev, had been temporarily arrested and Soviet troops occupied the major cities. There was violent fighting, the Lithuanians resisted and many people lost their lives. Fortunately this last, unhappy chapter came to an end a short time later. Since 2004 Lithuania, a country with slightly over three million inhabitants, has been a parliamentary democracy and member of the European Union.

In 1996, the first Waldorf group in Lithuania was opened within a state kindergarten. The translation of literature on Waldorf education started soon afterwards. A Lithuanian Waldorf education association was established which in 2004 achieved the recognition of Waldorf education in Lithuania by the ministry of education and science. Lithuanian teachers travelled to other European countries and undertook placements in Waldorf kindergartens and schools. Waldorf educators from Scandinavia, Austria, Poland and Germany organised advanced training seminars. In 1999, the “Saltinelis” Waldorf kindergarten in Kau­nas became a member of the International Association of Waldorf Kindergartens.

Intensive advanced training activity began in collaboration between lecturers from Baden-Württemberg, the collegium of the Saltinelis kindergarten and Kaunas Col­lege, a state training facility. Currently 51 seminarists from seven cities in the country, including some students from Kaunas College, are attending the five-semester advanced training in Waldorf education. Today there are already 36 Waldorf kindergarten groups in various cities in the country with more than 1 000 children.

About the author: Peter Lang is a lecturer of education, psychology and Waldorf education and a member of the council of the Vereinigung der Waldorf-Kindertageseinrichtungen Baden-Württemberg e.V. (Association of Waldorf Child Daycare Facilities in Baden-Württemberg)


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