Private schools will be the catalyst for change throughout the entire education sectorErudito
During the opening ceremony of Erudito Licėjus on Aguonų str. in Vilnius, the founder and head of the lyceum, Assoc. Prof. Nerijus Pačėsa, pointed out that the development of private schools, throughout the world, takes place where there is a need for rapid change, new educational methods and practices. It is private educational institutions that become the catalyst for change; which over time transforms the entire state education sector.
Change is happening, but it takes time
“Private schools boldly and rapidly introduce innovations in content and educational formats. They focus on methods of learning through critical and creative thinking, knowledge, comprehension and application. This is a reflection of what society requires and expects from modern education. Sadly, the public sector does not always manage to meet such demands. Nevertheless, with time, these demands will be met by state schools. To speed up the process – we exchange experiences, I myself teach on Educational Leadership Porgramme, I visit educational centers all over Lithuania at the invitation of municipalities. Furthermore, teachers come to Erudito Licėjus, to observe classes – we also provide and encourage teacher exchange programmes, not only from public schools to private schools, but vice versa.“ Assoc Prof, Pačėsa, said.
He went on to say “…it is difficult to change the idea of education everywhere and Lithuania is no exception, so we should not engage in self-flagellation and claim that everything here is bad. On the contrary, the education sector has recently seen many good initiatives to introduce advanced elements of education.“
For 10-15 years, the main topics at global education conferences have not changed – these are integrated educational formats, project-based learning, learning aimed at the development of competences. However, it is still new for many schools, and examples where these innovations have been successfully implemented are very rare, and treated as success stories. This highlights that change is difficult, and that public sector education worldwide is facing similar challenges.
It is neither presumptuous nor misleading to suggest that Finland is the absolute leader, managing to transform its public education sector into an exemplar of innovation and progress. That is why there are almost no private educational institutions in Finland. “Unlike Finland, throughout the world, progress in education is mainly associated with private initiatives – Great Britain being a prime example”, notes the founder of Erudito Licėjus.
Myths busted: Where we’re wrong about private schools
It is no coincidence that the leaders of private educational institutions have a vision and strive for change. “I tend to think that there are more education enthusiasts in the private sector who want to make a difference as opposed to entrepreneurs who see education as a mere business venture. This may, in part, be due to the resposibilities associated with education, its long-term commitment, large investments in infrastructure and not least human capital,” Assoc Prof, Pacėsa, went on to say.
When he founded and led the Erudito Licėjus, two myths related to private schools were destroyed. Firstly, anyone who can afford private schools for their children’s education will choose to do so. “This is definitely not the case and financial capacity is not always the deciding factor. We have a number of families for whom the tuition fee is a big financial commitment, but it is their conscious choice to invest in their children.” Assoc Prof, Pacėsa, said.
The second myth is that Parents who want a private education for their children want a modern education. Some parents anticipate and expect their children to be taught and learn as they did, and consider innovative practice in teaching and learning as a waste of time. “It’s not the parents’ lack of knowledge or lack of trust – it’s just that it’s clearer and safer for them. Competence-oriented education is more difficult to perceive, while knowledge-oriented education is known and easily measured by tests, grades, exams. This only serves to affirm how complex the transformation of the education sector is”, said N. Pacėsa.
Architectural solutions dictated by educational philosophy
Erudito Licėjus new premises, which opened this September, are fully adapted to the needs of the community and its vision of education. “The educational process at our school is focused on cooperation, community, team and project work. This is also reflected in our new premises, where great attention is paid to communal spaces for a variety of purposes, enabling the integration of different subjects”, says N. Pacėsa. The school is equipped with classrooms, mixed-use spaces for joint work, interactive activities and leisure, a science and technology laboratory, a gym, a swimming pool, a canteen, and the school has an inner courtyard. Architect Gintautas Natkevičius and his team took care of the architectural solutions of the project.
Since the beginning of the academic year, approximately 500 students of Erudito Licėjus have been studying in the newly equipped premises. It is anticipated that this number will grow to almost a thousand.