Lack of science opportunities impacts students in Lithuania

Research on the social aspects of science suggests that a welcoming and encouraging environment is key for attracting women and minorities into these competitive fields. Yet Lithuanian pupils struggle to find a place for popular science activities.

Daiva Repeckaite
Daiva Repeckaite NewsMavens, Lithuania
Lack of science opportunities impacts students in Lithuania - NewsMavens
Child in science, PixaBay

Why this story matters:

Lithuania is one of only three countries in the EU where women constitute a majority of scientists and engineers. To boost its economy, the EU has set goals to promote science as a career choice, especially among women, but Lithuania has been doing relatively well, with its share of STEM graduates at around EU average, ahead of richer countries like Luxembourg and Belgium. Much of this number, however, is in engineering, as the rate of women in natural sciences, mathematics and IT is third-lowest.

In this context, technical university representatives in Lithuania's second-largest city of Kaunas find it alarming that there appears to be a lack of places for curious pupils to conduct practical tests in natural sciences.

The same concern is voiced by the head of a hobby center, VII Fortas, where students go to learn to conduct scientific experiments, as most schools prioritize formal education results over curiosity and discovery. Municipal officials, however, say that this is not a priority, as other hobbies are more popular among students, and those who are interested can use school labs.

Details from the story:

  • In the public broadcaster's video, secondary school pupils can be seen participating in a microbiology research group at VII Fortas, a hobby centre in Kaunas. They are studying bacteria that they have grown in the lab by themselves.
  • The center offers hobby clubs in chemistry, physics and biology.
  • All of these activities are overbooked, as there are few similar centers where curious pupils can use state-of-the-art science labs. "Contemporary science is expensive," the head of the center, Vladimiras Orlovas, told the journalists.
  • Municipal officials say that the lack of labs is not a problem, because some schools have enough equipment. Moreover, sport, dance and music are more popular among children than science.
  • Over four years, the number of entrants to the local university's chemistry programme has halved.
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