Education policy: Fair future chances for our children
Education is our country’s most important resource. It permits young people to find their own way. Access to good, general education is a human right and not only essential for Luxembourg economic strength and innovation, but above all for the personal development of each individual. Education is the prerequisite for the active participation of mature and responsible citizens, both on a professional and non-professional level.
Education acts is in the interest of people, as well as the society, and must continuously adapt to new times. In recent years, the education system has opened up to the society. The new training offers have been adapted to different talents and language biographies, as well as new socio-economic demands. Every pupil should have a fair chance and access to good quality education, and to receive a baccalaureate.
A striking quality in the field of childcare, the granting of 20 hours weekly free of charge for plurilingual education for each child, the establishment of regional departments teaching basic education, a reform that is long overdue of differentiated education, the gradual adaptation of vocational training, the reform of high schools, the introduction of a new course called “life and society”, a new orientation procedure from basic education to secondary education, …. Never before have so many far-reaching educational reforms been decided upon and/or implemented during a single legislature with the aim of modernizing and making our education system more socially accessible.
The education policy of the DP is based on five principles, which ensure each child to obtain the best chances and future opportunities:
- Continuation and quality reforms
In the coming years, the DP will focus its efforts on rearrangement, evaluation and
development of its reforms. It is essential to devote the time necessary to ensure the required effects. Swift adjustments, or even the elimination of introduced reforms would risk delaying our education system by several years and would be irresponsible and in no way justifiable vis-à-vis the pupils, the parents of pupils and the teaching staff.
- Focus on the child
With the creation of a Ministry of National Education, Children and Youth, the DP has brought together all areas that support children and young people under one and the same roof. This has made it possible to implement a policy which puts the child at the centre, and which has not caused any administrative constraints. The conceptual exchange between formal and non-formal education has given rise to mutual improvements and progress in many areas. The DP will also in the future continue to develop the Luxembourgish educational system based on both formal and non-formal education.
- Different schools for different talents
In the debates on education in recent decades, the “one and only” school model was always in the centre of the discussions. The DP is committed to open up to a diversified educational, which mirrors the diverse talents and interests of children and adolescents in Luxembourg. If we really want to develop the Luxembourgish education in the future, and to forget the naive and past debates on education, we must develop and broaden the educational offer.
- Confidence and autonomy
The reforms referred to above have never improved the education system in a sustainable way. The policy must set quality goals, however the path towards these goals differs from region to region and from institution to institution. The multitude of approaches and the concepts represent an amelioration for our education system. The DP therefore works in a partnership with managements, teachers and educators with the stated aim of further developing the Luxembourg education system. This basis of trust should be strengthened in the years to come.
- Innovation and modernisation
In the last five years, the DP has made notable investments in the innovation of our education system. This is especially true in the field of new media and digitalisation, but also entrepreneurship and sustainable development. The new technologies and digital media are intensively studied, both as a school subject and as a supportive tool. The DP has been working for a long time with these and other reforms to catch up with areas which are lagging in our education system. These efforts must be continued to keep pace with social developments.
Childcare and toddler subjects
When the multilingual education programme for children aged 1 to 4 was introduced, the DP set up a scientific advisory board (school administrators) consisting of renowned national and international scientists, whose mission is to scientifically support the implementation of the project. This council will be institutionalized and will assist the Ministry during the quality development process in the field of childcare and toddler care.
Like SCRIPT in the field of formal education, the DP will expand the National Youth Service (Service National de la Jeunesse in French) by creating a department for innovation and the development of quality in the non-formal education sector. The two departments will closely collaborate in the future.
As another element of quality development in the non-formal education sector, the DP will guarantee the quality of the continuing education offers prescribed by law. To this end, it is planned to set up accredited continuing training agencies which will guarantee a high-level training offer.
The DP will develop new trainings at the Professional Aptitude Diploma level (“DAP” in French) and thus improve the number of qualified teaching staff in the structures. The educator’s training will be evaluated and adapted as necessary.
The system put in place to financially support the care of children is complicated and opaque. Therefore, the DP intends to replace it with another more efficient system. An audit function within the Ministry will ensure that it is indeed the parents who will benefit from the financial aid provided by the state.
At present, the offer of relay houses is mainly aimed at adding additional activities before and after school lessons. The DP wants to expand this concept and transform these relay homes into meeting points for parents who generally favour the exchange between parents and professionals. Next to the cultural centre, the family centre will play a major role in community life, insofar as it will offer activities that are placed in the context of education, children and the role of parents.
The DP encourages the construction and merger of integrating schools and relay houses under one and the same roof, where these centres are arranged in such a way that they can be used together. This will allow the construction of larger centres, which will give the institutions a way to operate for the best interest of the children.
As part of a pilot project, the DP intends to test the concept of parents’ neighbourhood, which already exists today in several countries, such as in Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands and Switzerland. Often, the “neighbourhood parents” are themselves from immigrant families and are able to provide other immigrant parents with information on relevant topics, such as education or training and health, while doing home visits.
In collaboration with the municipalities, the DP will set up a dedicated shuttle service for associations to transport pupils from schools and/or relay homes to sports or cultural centres where outside school activities take place. This new service, pre-financed by the municipalities and reimbursed by the state, will on the one hand relieve parents in the organization of their daily lives, and on the other hand, promote local community life, which plays a major role in social unity within towns and villages across the country.
In order to give a voice to parents whose children benefit from childcare services recognized by the state, the DP will create a national representative body for those parents. On the one hand, the goal is to strengthen the systematic participation of parents in the process of the quality approach in childcare facilities. On the other hand, the parent representative body is supposed to reinforce the parents in their role, and beyond, to represent a point of contact for parents who have problems with the childcare facilities. Moreover, the DP will encourage collaboration between the relay houses and local sports and cultural associations.
The DP will continue to commit to the implementation of healthy eating in childcare facilities. A balanced diet that meets the needs of children, as well as the appropriate training of the staff of the childcare facilities will also have to continue to be insured in the future.
The DP will continue to promote the exchange between teachers and parents. Kindergartens and relay houses must have specialized documentation that should allow parents to learn more about their children’s education.
The internet platform called “staarkkanner.lu” will be further developed to serve as a privileged site for parents, who can order free information brochures and teaching materials.
Scientific studies have shown that intensive communication situations (such as reading a book with the child) play a decisive role in child’s cognitive and language development. This is the reason why the DP will offer a free children’s book per year for preschool children. Parents will be made aware of this offer. Beyond that, the DP encourages the creation of mini libraries for children in neighbourhoods, which may be setup in close connection with playgrounds. The purpose of such library is to encourage children to read books and to improve their reading skills.
In a school system where the offer has grown strongly in recent years, it becomes more and more difficult to maintain the visibility necessary to make an informed choice. It is for this reason the Ministry of National Education, Children and Youth has recently presented the website “mengschoul.lu”. This site is meant to be a tool available to students and parents who are searching for an educational offer meeting their needs. The DP will create a similar portal on the offers in childcare and early childhood structures. This platform will inform parents interested in the kindergartens and relay houses located nearby and will provide all useful information on the structures themselves.
In order to support young people and young adults in the phase of switching to adulthood, the DP will expand the supply of youth housing and supervised housing on a national scale.
The teaching should be based on experiences made during the youth’s activities. For the schools to welcome and become an everyday place for young adults, all schools will have meeting rooms for these young adults so that they have the opportunity to spend their free time there and to organize their leisure time in an autonomous way.
The pilot project called “Outreach Youth Work” has given new impulses to the beginning of so-called NEETs (Not in Education, Employment or Training). The DP will build on this momentum and will aim for a close networking of all the measures already in place within the framework of the Guarantee for the Youth. The National Youth Service’s (Service National de la Jeunesse in French) activation programs will also be expanded. Beyond that, the DP is identifying a coordinator whose mission will be to harmonize the range of the offer accompanying the youth guarantee.
The DP will continue to expand the offer of boarding schools and develop a quality framework. During the last decades, the role of boarding schools has changed as has the target audience. The framework will have to take these developments into account.
Following the example of framework plans in the areas of childcare and work with young people, the DP will develop a quality framework that will lay the foundations for quality development in the context of helping and supporting young people.
The DP will expand the offer of support services to young people and reduce the number of young people who are living abroad. This is the only way to guarantee them a better integration into the Luxembourg society.
The governance of an education policy
The DP will bring together all relevant people involved in the field of education around a table
(Lëtzebuerger Bildungsdësch). The mission of this independent group will be to contribute to realize the debates around education and training, to find a social consensus in major educational files and projects, and thus guarantee the continuity to the education policy that even goes beyond several terms of the legislature. In order to reach the broadest possible consensus, the said “Bildungsdësch” (education table) will bring together all concerned persons, namely teachers, students, school directors, parents, but also relevant people from the scientific world as well as from the civil society, who will be represented via the recently created National Observatory for School Quality and the National Council Program. The Parliament will also be invited to take part in the work of the “Lëtzebuerger Bildungsdësch” in order to guarantee the neutrality of the proposals. It is only when a consensus on the most important questions of the education policy has been achieved that a peaceful and continuous development of the whole system will be guaranteed. After all, these are the prerequisites for a quality education.
Basic education (primary and lower secondary education)
The regional boards of basic education setup in 2017 will subsequently be developed further and their administrative staff will be increased. Their skills in recruitment from the municipalities will be clarified. The boards will in the next five years focus on the development of education.
In all parts of the country, the regional boards will provide information and answers to questions about education in the form of a one-stop shop for education.
The DP will create solid development opportunities for teachers wishing to do specialized trainings, particularly in the areas of social inclusion, digitalization and pedagogic management.
The University of Luxembourg should offer master’s degrees in the fields of specialized pedagogy, pedagogical management and educational technologies.
Besides the existing pool of teachers for children with special needs (“I-EBS” in French), other teachers specializing in new media and digital skills will be employed within the basic education in order to support schools to develop strategies relating to the use of new technologies. The so-called I-CM will continue to be the main teachers but will be exempted from answering questions related to ICT questions.
In order to enable teachers to acquire specific skills which are of great importance for schools, the National Education Training Institute (“IFEN” in French) offers, in collaboration with Uni.lu, continuing education courses that meet the requirements of the ECTS system (European Credit Transfer System) and which can be taken into consideration for a master’s degree. This approach should make it possible to collect ECTS points during several years and thereby acquire a master’s degree.
The DP will encourage primary school children to, in a playful way, learn programming skills. Special classes focusing on science and mathematics will be developed.
Online mathematics education has in recent years been introduced with great success in Luxembourg schools. The DP will develop a similar offer for the teaching of German and French language. It is especially at the level of language courses that digital educational material can promote the differentiation of teaching.
Students with an academic deficit (learning disabilities) are currently dependent on the supply of materials of very variable quality on the free market. Together with suppliers of school materials, the DP will develop a digital platform that will guarantee academic support of very good quality, and which will be freely accessible to the target audience.
The question of homework assistance at primary schools and relay houses remains unanswered. The DP will do the homework assistance compensation system more attractive for qualified employees and will guarantee an extended offer to all schools of the country.
The organization of school cycles should motivate schools to strengthen the differentiation of teaching. Yet there are many who are still in their infancy when it comes to this idea. The DP will assess the concept and then adapt it to the realities experienced in school.
By using a socio-economic index, the distribution of resources in the Luxembourg school system was supposed to become fairer and help strengthen the fairness of chances among students. It must nevertheless be noted that in practice, there are regions and schools in Luxembourg which face much greater challenges than others. The number of students who have developed skills that are not included in the teaching programme testifies to these challenges. The DP will assess the calculation system which is based on contingents and replace it with a system that will better take into account the challenges and problems encountered by some schools.
With the reform of Differentiated Education, the DP has transposed a real change in model in the field of inclusion, which for Luxembourg is a huge step forward. In basic education, support efforts will be pursued in order to employ at least one specialist teacher per school, dedicated to children with special needs (“I-EBS” in French). The numbers of Support Teams for Children in Need (“ESEB” in French) will be reinforced, if necessary, as will the ambulatory support provide for by the national competence centers.
The DP will create socio-therapeutic centers for truly exceptional cases where problems of extreme gravity prevent any regular and normal schooling of children.
The DP will commit to the development, to the extent possible, of areas for parents in primary schools, which will allow regular contact and exchange between parents and teachers. These spaces are also supposed to play the role of showcase where schools present the work carried out with children and where parents will benefit from invaluable information around major themes of education.
In order to combat the lack of exercise of many children, the DP will continue to support and to expand the Moving School (Bewegte Schule) project – clever move, in primary school and in relay homes. This project consists of introducing 15 to 20 minutes of additional physical exercise during class hours at school as well as those spent at the relay house. By means of the introduction of phases of relaxation and active breaks, or even movement stations in classrooms and learning sessions by moving, children are aware and develop a taste for physical exercise and at the same time improving their concentration as well their learning abilities.
The DP will gradually reduce the administrative burden on teachers, parents and school administrators. In a first step, the generalized digitization of all administrative procedures will simplify the flow of information and the presentation requests from the directorates and the ministry. Subsequently, the establishment, made by the DP of a task force consisting of representatives of the teachers, school administrators and the ministry, will give rise to concrete proposals for the reduction of administrative burdens.
Due to the various reforms that were made during the last legislature, different assessment methods exist depending on the grade level. The DP will have all these methods evaluated by an external body and will try to harmonize the basic principles of evaluation. The first goal of the assessment should be to document school development in a way that is understandable to all persons involved in order to enable them to make an informed decision on the promotion of the pupil. At the same time, it is important to prevent pupils from becoming discouraged due to possible errors and misunderstanding/misinterpretation of the evaluation methods.
Secondary education and vocational training
During the last legislature, basic education as well as secondary education have benefited from a significant strengthening of their freedom of design and decision. The autonomy of schools has been significantly increased, as has the trust placed in teachers. The DP continues to support the autonomy of schools with regard to profile development, finances, human resources and educational content. The education policy is to continue to define clear objectives and to harmonize them on a national level, so that schools will achieve them within the framework of the leeway granted to them.
The DP does not want a one-size-fits-all solution for all pupils. The variation of the public-school offer launched at the initiative by the DP will be extended to the next Legislature. The country needs schools that reflect the multitude of talents and needs of our pupils. In view of the growing divergency of pupils, schools should continue to be supported to profiling and adapt to local realities, socio-cultural and language skills of their respective students.
This is the reason why the Luxembourg schools will have to continue to expand its offer in order to be able to give each pupil the opportunity to choose the school that suits him/her the best in terms of profile and professional choice. This is the only way to guarantee each pupil a fair chance for a good professional qualification and a good diploma. It is only by accepting the different profiles of different pupils and developing adapted school offers that the public school can meet the requirements of the objective to guarantee fair educational opportunities and prospects for each child. Diversification of public schools consolidates with public education.
The opening of a first public international school in Differdange in 2016 was a real success. For the first time in this country, all pupils had free access to programmes of the European School. In the meantime, other European classes have emerged in Mondorf, Junglinster and in Clervaux. The DP will continue to expand the offer to programmes of the European School according to demand. Beyond that, the DP will open a new European School in the capital region to ensure such an offer nearby all corners of the country.
During the last legislative period, the DP supported schools in their efforts to develop special profiles in the fields of ICT, sustainable development and entrepreneurship. These schools will continue to benefit from this support in order to be able to develop specific thematic profiles in key areas. This reinforces the diversification of the school offer and therefore the choice offered to pupils. Luxembourg needs a programme offer which is as rich as the interests and talents developed by the pupils.
The Luxembourg school system faces the challenge of recognizing that skills required in the 21st century no longer arise from the single reproduction of knowledge (“Google being omniscient”), but rather reside in the collaborative search for solutions and answers to complex questions. Essential skills derive from social and teamwork, creativity, self-confidence and a positive culture despite mistakes and negative feedback. The DP will actively support schools that are moving towards collaborative learning or “Design Thinking” in the development of their profiles.
The Lycée Ermesinde, which is situated in the Center region, was created as a pilot project offering alternative teaching methods. The DP will develop a similar project in the south of Luxembourg, in collaborating with the University of Luxembourg. This new school is supposed to offer the possibility of illustrating cases of good practice within the framework of basic teacher training and in accordance with the National Education Training Institute (“IFEN” in French).
The DP will encourage schools to organize internal continuation training and educational days
around the theme of educational/training development. To this end, the DP will make available experts to schools that wish to benefit from these experts, whose role will be to support these schools in their efforts. Finally, the quality of education depends on the key factor which is the teacher and the course they teach in their classroom.
Teachers are experts in teaching and learning. In order to meet the requirements needed, teachers need a solid training in the fields of didactics and pedagogy. At present, this training is guaranteed largely through the mandatory educational internship. As part of the pedagogical internship reform, the DP will offer holders of diplomas who have followed specialized training, the possibility of a shortened internship. This aims at re-establishing a parallelism with basic education.
Too often still, the Luxembourg school system continues to neglect pupils with learning disabilities and their families in their search for adequate assistance. The DP is of the opinion that motivated pupils should have free access to individualized academic support and high-quality teaching materials in their schools which assist them with their learning disabilities and counteract that they lag behind. The DP will, in co-operation with the schools, work out appropriate offers.
In close collaboration with countries and their respective representations, the DP will manage a network of exchange schools abroad where secondary school pupils can follow language courses in French, German or English. Learning of a foreign language bears the best fruits when the candidate is immersed in the country’s linguistic and cultural environment. Language exchange camps do not only encourage students to reduce any inhibitions and actively communicate in the foreign language, but they also inspire a natural and intuitive learning of this language. These linguistic exchange camps can, in addition, represent a judicious alternative to holiday work and to fill language deficits during summer school holidays.
Beyond psychosocial and scholastic support service (“SePAS” in French), the DP will implement socio-educational teams in all high schools. Their mission will be to work in the field of prevention and socio-educational work for young people and to develop series of educational offers.
Within the Luxembourg school system, on average, almost 7% of class hours are lost due to the teacher being absent. Rare are the cases where these hours are managed by substitute teacher, who guarantees the continuation of the classes. As for all other cases, the DP will change the current system of said hours and replace them with interesting activities through educational programmes (including education concerning citizenship, sustainable development or study guidance) which will be provided by the socio-educational teams, and therefore benefit the students.
When we, in the long-term, achieve internationally recognized personnel standards, we are moving towards an inclusive school system. Therefore, the DP will develop a coherent concept of inclusion for secondary schools, following the model of basic education, which will furthermore integrate national skill centers, namely the Commission for reasonable accommodation (CAR in French), CEPAS and SEPAS. The DP will also make available more teachers specialized in pedagogy to secondary schools secondary, to enable and ensure the inclusion of all students. Beyond that, the amount of competence centers specialized in psycho-pedagogy will be increased to support pupils with specific needs (pupils with learning disabilities, high potential students, socio-emotional development disorders), in order to guarantee the best support from all schools in their management of pupils’ special educational needs.
The digital revolution does not only bring opportunities, but also risks. In view of the ever-increasing use of new media and the Internet, questions and challenges relating to the effective protection of elementary school pupils and young people in general continues to gain in importance. The DP will therefore promote and strengthen the interdisciplinary approach to media education in schools. Faced with a digital environment and a real constant flow of information, children and young people must keep a critical mind, knowing how to distinguish and question various sources.
The use of a tablet has become a key skill in many professional fields and should therefore also become more integrated into everyday school life. We therefore aim not only to the increase the so-called “tablet classes”, but also, in the short term, to include one-to-one equipment in all schools. We want to ensure that all pupils can benefit from the best chances of success and obtain more or less identical study conditions. Alongside fundamental media skills, pupils should also acquire skills to use digital tools for creative production. The DP will ensure that teachers will be offered continuous digital training skills.
During the modernization of the classical secondary education, a new section dedicated to “Information communication and technology” (section I) has emerged. In view of the great success among the pupils, together with the high demand stemming from the Luxembourg economic sector, this section I will be generalized and offered to everyone. As part of the training for their own study profiles, newly created secondary schools will be encouraged to broaden their own offer to include these digital skills.
In the years to come, coding will be an indispensable key skill in the digitized professional world. Despite the fact that the computer and the smartphone are vastly used communication tools, many people do not even have the basic knowledge of the operating systems and computer programming languages.
With the aim of promoting the understanding of the digital world and the functionality of computers, the DP intends to include coding in the school programmes. We want that elementary school children gain a first programming experience, and we want to open up the world of logic and algorithms in a fun way to them. Subsequently, during their secondary school period, they will improve their digital skills and learn more and different programming languages, some of them as part of thematic courses, such as mathematics and natural sciences.
The DP will provide a comprehensive concept for the promotion of technology and natural sciences to the national education. From kindergarten to secondary education, interest in so-called MINT courses (Mathematics, Information technology, Natural Sciences and Technologies) will thus be stimulated. This approach will guide school pupils to their respective best choice study programme. Expanding digitization, the promotion of new sectors such as the circular economy and the expansion of the Luxembourg scientific center are examples of a multitude of jobs that are created in the fields of technology and natural sciences. In this context, the DP is also committed to enhanced collaboration with student and professional organizations.
The Luxembourg Science Center, which is situated in Differdange, works like a magnet and attracts a vast majority of the public, be it from school establishments, kindergarten, families, groups and tourists. Experimentation stations and workshops offer visitors the opportunity to discover the thrilling and exciting side of natural sciences and technologies. The DP will further develop this discovery park in order to encourage and guide young people towards the orientation of technological and scientific professions.
In close collaboration with the professional chambers, the DP will continue to encourage the
alternative training, with the stated objective of compensating for the lack of qualified personnel. The creation of a higher technician certificate (“BTS” in French) and the possibility of passing the baccalaureate, as well as a vocational aptitude diploma (“DAP” in French), during the same year of graduation should be possible. Beyond that, it is planned to offer, for each training, an additional appropriate continuing education, so that trainees can move on from a vocational capacity certificate (“CCP” in French) via the vocational aptitude diploma (“DAP” in French) to the technician’s diploma, in order for them to be able to continue with their careers via the higher technician certificate (“BTS” in French), into a higher education. This system will offer all trainees the advantage of having the same prospect future, regardless of whether they studied the classical or general high school programme. This offers possibility, after having obtained the diploma, to easily switch orientation should it fit better for their professional career.
The DP will, in close collaboration with the professional chambers, further develop the continuing education in the field of vocational education. Private and state continuing education centers should offer comparable but complementary offers, which will open up, if necessary, the possibility for the issuance of a state diploma.
The DP will open up the possibility for pupils with learning disabilities to obtain a partial certification. Unless they can follow a complete training for a vocational capacity certificate (“CCP” in French), this partial certification scheme should allow them to follow some certified classes. The DP will launch several projects targeting this partial certification.
With the aim of stimulating entrepreneurship, the DP will introduce free access to relevant master’s certificates.
Adult education and higher education institutions
The DP will expand the offers of the higher technician certificate (“BTS” in French) in order to meet the growing demand in skilled labor. The BTS diploma certifies the acquisition of professional skills and therefore provides an ideal preparation for entering the professional life. This is especially true in future oriented branches with significant development perspectives. The DP will increase the educational offer in these future oriented and promising branches.
The number of partnerships between secondary schools, universities and specialized technical colleges (“Hautes Écoles” in French) will be reinforced in order to allow BTS students to obtain a bachelor’s degree after 3 years of study. This represents a new path that allows to increase the number of students who move on to higher education.
The progressive technological development poses new challenges for both businesses and
Employees. This is the reason why the DP will create so-called Digital Learning Centers, equipped with a digital training platform that provides free and open access to content provided by the Luxembourg university, adult education institutions, the training institute of national education (“IFEN” in French) and the national institute of public administration (“INAP” in French). It is also planned to equip these Digital Learning Centers with technical resources, such as sound engineering and video mixing studios, to be used for digital creation purposes, free of charge.
In these centers, particular emphasis is placed on (continuing) training in the digital/digitalization field. By introducing a “training voucher”, the DP will offer each interested employee the possibility of taking a free introductory basic course in the digitalized world.
See the chapter “Digitization and media”: digital thinking and the guarantee of the independence and media diversity.
In close collaboration with the professional chambers, the DP will create an accreditation agency whose mission will be to promote the quality of vocational training/continuing education and ensuring transparency in the continuing education market. Going forward, only the accredited providers and trainings will benefit from subsidies allocated by the State.
The path to a knowledge-based society inevitably passes through continuing education and lifelong learning. This is why the DP will strengthen the adult education system in Luxembourg. In doing so, the premises and the infrastructure of the secondary education will be put to greater use. The competent department within the ministry will be responsible for the coordination of the educational offers. By validating previous educational trainings, professional experiences and continuing trainings, employees are given the possibility to obtain a higher qualification. In order to the achieve these goals, essential structures and control bodies must be created. This function is incumbent on the State, which will be fully responsible.
The Center for Political Education was founded with the support by the current government. The positive impressions made up until today by this institution should be developed and encouraged further in the future. The DP is of the opinion that political education should have a much more important role in all educational and training establishments.