March 21, 2017 Print

Economics education in Lithuania has been transformed by the Lithuanian Free Market Institute’s (LFMI) groundbreaking Economics in 31 Hours textbook, which, less than two years after its original publication, is now in use by a remarkable 68 percent of 9th and 10th graders in Lithuania’s schools — more than 22,000 students across the country annually. Now the London Book Fair has awarded Economics in 31 Hours with its Educational Learning Resources Award for “its pedagogical value, practicality and uptake in the promotion of innovation in economics education in Lithuania,” an honor granted as part of the fair’s International Excellence Awards program.

“This award represents the success of our work to empower teachers and engage students through the promotion of innovative teaching and learning methods and the provision of relevant ICT-based study material,” said Marija Vyšniauskaitė, head of LFMI’s Education Centre and co-author of the textbook. “Realizing the role of networking and social reality in students’ everyday life, we have integrated social networks, advertising and various contemporary social phenomena into the learning process. Our material draws on the socioeconomic reality and economic decisions that 9th and 10th grade students face in their everyday lives which is both practical and engaging for students.”

Economics in 31 Hours brings a crucial dose of economic principles and reasoning about market activity to an educational field that has been dominated for decades by socialist dogma and mathematized economic formulas that historically treated government intervention as the solution to every social problem. The textbook has been so successful that it won Atlas Network’s 2016 prestigious $100,000 Templeton Freedom Award, and featured in a recent Atlas Network case study about how think tank projects can achieve substantial impact.

“Students tend to blame the government, businessmen and the media for economic downturns and stagnation; however, very few believe that they could make a change,” said Žilvinas Šilėnas, LFMI president and textbook co-author. “Therefore, the promotion of personal responsibility and understanding that each economic phenomenon is a result of our economic activity is paramount. The demand for quality education has never been higher and our Education Centre will continue to stimulate discussion and promote critical thinking among students so that they become responsible individuals.”

The textbook has also served as inspiration for think tanks in other countries to launch their own similar educational projects.

“Let me also tell you that there is a huge interest from local groups in Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, Albania, Romania, and Bosnia and Herzegovina to replicate this project in their home countries,” said Aneta Vaine, LFMI's director of development and programs. “We have identified possible partnerships and explored possibilities of what can be accomplished in these countries.”