2020.01.29 11:50

Mayors in Lithuania want control of school funds

BNS 2020.01.29 11:50

The majority of Lithuanian mayors support the idea of handing control over education funds to municipalities, one of the proposals put forward by the prime minister aimed at facilitating school reform.

While municipalities are currently in charge of managing local school networks, the funding is administered and distributed by the central government. This arrangement, the government argues, disincentivises any attempts to reform the network in the face of dwindling student numbers.

Read more: Lithuanian PM proposes government control over schools during reform

The proposal to put municipal authorities in charge of administering and distributing education funds has been submitted by Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis in a draft agreement he sent to parliamentary parties.

The prime minister has also flouted an alternative proposal to put all schools, excluding primary schools, temporarily under the central government's control to carry out the overhaul.

The Lithuanian Association of Municipalities has told BNS that 36 out of 50 surveyed mayors back the idea of giving local authorities more control, and 12 suggest keeping the existing order.

In all, there are 60 municipalities in Lithuania.

“Being better informed about the needs of their communities, municipalities would use public funds more rationally and ensure access to and quality of education for the inhabitants,” said Mindaugas Sinkevičius, the mayor of Jonava and the president of the Lithuanian Association of Municipalities.

Municipal authorities have already proven their ability to cope independently, he argued, after taking over the administration of social support funds.

Read more: In depopulating Baltics, Lithuanian school adopts unorthodox approach to survive

Skvernelis submitted his proposal on education to political parties in early January and the draft agreements is set to be amended by a parliamentary working group.

He hopes that the document will result in a ‘national agreement’ among political parties, both ruling and currently in opposition, to pursue a consistent policy.

LRT English newsletter: subscribe here