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The constitution of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg guarantees free compulsory education. Article 23 of the constitution states that “the State shall ensure that all Luxembourgers receive primary instruction, which shall be compulsory and free of charge. The State shall establish the requisite intermediate teaching establishments and higher education courses, and shall also establish vocational training courses, which shall be dispensed free of charge”. The costs of pre-school and primary schooling are accordingly shared between the municipalities and the State, and the State meets the full costs of post-primary education.
Compulsory full-time education Phases
|Spillschoul (pre-primary schools)||4-6 years of age|
|Primary education||6-12 years of age|
|Secondary educationGeneral secondary educationTechnical secondary education||12-15 years of age|
Education is compulsory between the ages of 4 and 15.
The first public pre-school establishments were set up in the 1860s. The first legal text to mention pre-school education was an act of 20 April 1881, authorizing the government “to set up nursery schools with the consent of the municipal council and the schools board”. The act of 5 August 1963 then introduced a general system of pre-school education with the “requirement to set up schools known as “kindergardens”. Then followed three important regulations: on 23 September 1964, the regulation governed the financial participation of the State, on 22 October 1974, it made pre-school attendance compulsory for “all children above the age of five at 1st September and not yet subject to compulsory school attendance”. From then on, five-year-olds were legally obliged to enter the second year of pre-school education. That was then extended to “all children above the age of four at 1st September and not yet subject to compulsory school attendance” under the regulation of 2 September 1992. Thus the attendance at the “Spillschoul” (pre-primary schools) is now compulsory for children aged 4 on September 1st of the year they enrol.
The principle of compulsory education is enshrined in the act of 10 August 1912 on the organization of primary education: “all children above the age of six at 1 September shall, for nine consecutive years, receive instruction in the subjects provided for in Article 23 of this act” (Article 1).
The main distinction at this level is between general secondary education (enseignement secondaire) and technical secondary education (enseignement secondaire technique). Post-compulsory general secondary education continues in “lycées” and is organized in two stages: general upper secondary education during the fourth and fifth years of secondary school (15-17 years of age), and the period of specialization in the sixth and seventh years of secondary education (17-19 years of age). Technical secondary education is offered in technical “lycées” and is sub-divided into an intermediate and upper stage. Some technical “lycées” also offer post –secondary vocational training (especially in the tertiary sector).
Upper secondary and post-secondary education
|Lycée général (general secondary school)||15-19 years of age|
|Lycée technique (technical secondary school) Intermediate stage/upper stage (2+2 years) Intermediate stage (3 years)||15-19 years of age 15-18 years of age|
University of Luxembourg
The University of Luxembourg, founded in 2003, is a multilingual, international research university with 6,200 students and staff from across the globe. The mandatory semester abroad for bachelor’s students reflects the importance this University attaches to mobility. To this end, exchange agreements exist with 60 universities in 20 countries around the world. The priorities for research at the University of Luxembourg are international finance, ICT security, systems biomedicine, European law, business law and educational sciences. International research teams and 550 PhD students work within three faculties as well as the University’s Interdisciplinary Centre for Security, Reliability and Trust (SnT) and the Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine (LCSB) .
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In addition to more general provisions regarding freedom of worship and freedom of conscience, Luxembourg’s constitution sets out the relationship between church and State, making no rigid separation between the two. Roman Catholicism predominates in Luxembourg. Religious instruction occupies an important place in the public education system. Traditionally, secularism is not a key principle of the Luxembourg system. Religious education remained at the forefront in primary education until 1998. In secondary education the choice between religious and secular courses has been existing for twenty years. In general, religious education is integrated in the official school programmes. Thus, religious education is integral part of the normal curriculum and school achievements are accounted for in the school reports. Instruction for preparation for first communion takes place very often during normal school hours. Nevertheless, secular courses have been functioning in several local communities for several years. The law of 10 July 1998 amending articles 22, 23, and 26 of the modified law of August 1912 concerning the organization of primary education, completed by the regulation of 3 August 1998 has introduced the generalization of moral and social education courses in primary education for children not participating in religious courses.
Official and minority languages
Luxembourg is officially a trilingual country. An act of 24 February 1924 states that the national language is Lëtzeburgesch, a Franconian/Moselle dialect which is the vernacular for the entire Luxembourg population. Legislation is drafted in French and administrative and legal affairs are dealt with in French, German and Lëtzeburgesch. For administrative requests made in any of these languages, for example, the law states that “the administration’s response should wherever possible be in the language chosen by the applicant”. The three official languages are supplemented by those of the country’s immigrant population (Portuguese, Italian, etc.). The ability to switch readily from one language to another is part and parcel of everyday life for all residents. Trilingualism has a long history in Luxembourg, developing with the political context and reflecting social class. All three languages are employed from the earliest years of a child’s schooling.
Luxembourg children are, generally speaking, monolingual (although they acquire a certain passive knowledge of German and French from television) until they go to primary school, pre-school teaching being in Lëtzeburgesch. Lëtzeburgesch is also the auxiliary teaching language for reading and writing during the first one and a half years at school, but German is the language in which children first learn to read and write. Oral training of French starts in the second half of the second year, written French being introduced from the third year of primary school.
Luxembourg gives special attention to the integration of children of foreign origin into Luxembourg’s schools. Since 1991, the Ministry of National Education has been developing a general approach aimed at promoting the integration of these children on the basis of their needs, whatever their origin, the characteristics of the school system and language constraints. This approach is based on the principles of common education, trilingualism and equal opportunities.
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