6.1 General context
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The Luxembourgish educational system is characterised by a high share of foreign pupils (39.7% in 2019/20) and a great diversity of pupils in terms of socioeconomic, cultural and linguistic backgrounds (MENJE, 2020). This diversity brings many opportunities (e.g. intercultural learning) but also challenges (e.g. integration, language education) for the institutions of education and training.
The aims and objectives of the educational policy are set out in the government programme 2018-2023. According to this document, the central issues of educational policy are:
- Further development of education policy in order to ensure the high quality of reforms which are already initiated
- The child at the centre
- Different schools for different talents
- Trust and independence
- Innovation and modernisation.
Recent studies show that there are obvious educational disadvantages in the Luxembourgish school system. Pupils with a migration background, low socioeconomic background and of male gender are at a higher risk to have lower educational outcomes than their counterparts (Hadjar, Fischbach & Backes, 2018).
The PISA study also identifies (beside migration and low socioeconomic status) the language spoken at home (other than Luxembourgish or German) as a risk factor for pupils' school achievement (MENJE, SCRIPT, UL & LUCET, 2016; OECD, 2019).
With regard to the educational situation of women, their participation in the educational system has increased considerably during the past decades. In 1960, the share of women in secondary education was 36%, and it has increased up to 55% in 2020, so that women are no longer underrepresented in secondary education (Reiff, 2012; MENJE 2021). The share of women has also increased significantly within tertiary education. At the University of Luxembourg, for example, the share of female students is higher that the share of male students (STATEC, 2021).
Early school leaving is an important issue in the Luxembourgish public discourse, with debates on the negative consequences of dropout for the young people themselves and also for society as a whole. Although the dropout rate in Luxembourg is rather low compared to other European countries, and this number has been gradually decreasing and stabilising in Luxembourg in recent years (MENJE, SNJ & SCRIPT, 2021). Reducing early school leaving is an objective of the National Reform Programme of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg (Government of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, 2021) (see: 6.3 Preventing early leaving from education and training [ELET]).
According to the 2009 law on compulsory education, school attendance extends over 12 consecutive years and is compulsory from 4 years of age until 16. Secondary education starts at the age of 12. The Luxembourg secondary education system distinguishes between 'classic' and 'general' secondary education (2017 law on secondary education).
- 'Classic' secondary education (l'enseignement secondaire classique) leads to a secondary school leaving diploma (diplôme de fin d'études secondaires)
- 'General' secondary education (l'enseignement secondaire général) prepares pupils for working life and leads to different diploma depending on the track.
Post-secondary and higher education are provided by the University of Luxembourg (e.g. Bachelor and Master Programmes), the general secondary schools (Advanced Technicians Diploma) or other private and cross-border educational institutions (e.g. foreign universities, research institutes). In the field of adult education, different types of education are proposed (adult higher education, secondary education, general education and continuous vocational education and training [CVET]). (For further details, see: Eurydice article 2.3 Organisation of the Education System and of its Structure)
Early leaving from education and training (ELET) is a concept which is important to be explained since in Luxembourg it is measured by two types of indicators: (1) comparable EU indicators from Eurostat (share of young people aged 18-24 who have not reached a certain level of qualification and are not in education, based on the Labour Force Survey) and (2) national statistics based on administrative data on ELET among secondary pupils. Luxembourg's educational authorities introduced the alternative indicator of ELET because the Labour Force Survey (LFS) does not present a true picture of the situation in Luxembourg. Data from the LFS is subject to important variations due to the small sample size in Luxembourg, and the LFS sample in Luxembourg includes a significant share of foreign-born respondents who have attended school in a different country. The alternative indicator of ELET is based on administrative data and on a survey of early school leavers. A systematic procedure to identify young people leaving school has been developed by the ministry, together with the services of local action for youth (MENJE, SNJ & SCRIPT, 2021).