“I think perhaps European schools can play another role, not just in this country. But what we’re doing in Luxembourg could be a model for other countries,” said Luxembourg education minister Claude Meisch
Photo: Sven Becker/archives
Luxembourg’s education minister says he hopes to see more European countries follow Luxembourg’s lead in creating fee-free international schools following the European school curriculum.
In an interview with Delano on 15 December, Claude Meisch outlined plans for three further schools to introduce European programmes in Junglinster, Mondorf-les-Bains and Clervaux, of which the first two will include English sections.
“I think perhaps European schools can play another role, not just in this country. But what we’re doing in Luxembourg could be a model for other countries,” Meisch said, adding it could be rolled out across EU member states, not just for the children of civil servants but for all “pupils travelling with their families from one country to another without a break in their school career.”
According to Schola Europaea, there are already 13 accredited European schools (with a fourteenth under review). But few countries have embraced the programme like Luxembourg. The country opened its first accredited European school in Differdange in 2016, with English streams in primary and secondary section and compulsory Luxembourgish classes. The school teaches up to four foreign languages per student.
This year, it opened an annexe in Esch-sur-Alzette. Meisch, whose children attend the Differdange school, said it is “always difficult for a new school”, but added that the construction of a permanent building, to be completed in 2020, would strengthen its place. The school was criticised by some because it opened in all year groups at primary level, as opposed to just the first year to allow a slow growth. Meisch said this was because of a higher than expected demand for places from parents.
“It wasn’t really a surprise these new sections were appreciated by different types of parents, especially by the international community, but also by Luxembourg parents,” the minister said.
In September 2018, accredited European schools will open classes for the first years of primary and secondary for English and German streams at the Lënster Lycée in Junglinster, and for English and French streams (with only the first year at secondary in German) in prefabricated classrooms at the Lycée Mondorf-les-Bains. A permanent school is expected to be completed in 2023-2024. Finally, the education ministry will open French and German streams for the first year of secondary at the Lycée Edward Steichen in Clervaux. The number of year groups will grow by one annually.
Meisch said the locations were chosen based on the proportion of foreign nationals living in each area.
The decision to expand the offer of international schooling in Luxembourg is a response to the country’s growing cultural diversity. Currently, non-Luxembourg nationals make up 47% of the population. The minister said that at the age of 3 to 4, two thirds of children in Luxembourg don’t speak Luxembourgish as a first language at home. “For two thirds of the population our system is not so adapted,” Meisch said, explaining that it meant some young people were not able to flourish in the mainstream system.
The education ministry is now hiring teaching staff at the new schools. It has adjusted the criteria for teachers to qualify so that applicants must speak one national language to level B2, in addition to having the necessary qualifications and five years’ teaching experience. This means they can recruit teachers already working and living in Luxembourg. In the case of the Ecole Internationale de Differdange and Esch, Meisch said the ministry had hired European school teachers at the end of their nine-year contracts, as well as recruiting from abroad. “I think the main strength of this school is the different types of teachers, coming from different countries, trained in different universities and with experiences of different systems,” the minister said.
Anyone interested in applying as a teacher or registering their child in the new schools, should contact the schools directly.