Give pupils choice of teaching language, EU tells Luxembourg
Luxembourg’s multilingual state education system is causing students to fall behind and offering pupils the opportunity to be taught in a language of their choice would improve results, an EU report on Wednesday said.
Pupils learning to read and write in German first and all other subjects being taught in that language was leaving pupils with other languages such as French at a major disadvantage, according to a report by the European Commission, which makes several recommendations for Luxembourg’s public education system.
On top of that, the use of spoken Luxembourgish at primary level in state schools was also a contributing factor, the Commission said.
A pilot project in four primary schools, which sees children first learn in French and then in German, should be extended, the Commission said, as should the teaching model at the country’s international schools, where pupils choose one language of instruction from English, French and German.
“If this option of teaching through one main language were extended to cover a larger part of the school population, it could substantially improve pupils’ chances of attaining better learning outcomes,” the Commission said.
More than 8% of pupils in Luxembourg left school without completing secondary education last year, up from just over 6% in 2018, the report noted.
"The basic skills and the overall performance of the students depend largely on their socio-economic and linguistic background," the report said, adding that the gap between financially better-off students and less well-off peers “is wider in Luxembourg than in any other EU country”.
"The education system does not equip all students with the necessary basic skills to meet the country's labour market needs,” the Commission also said.
In addition to language issues, some of the main reasons for leaving school early were due to bad relationships with teachers or issues at home, the Liser research institute found in a study in 2021.
The number of pupils dropping out of school without any qualifications rose by 20% during the pandemic, as students struggled with online learning during lockdowns, Education Minister Claude Meisch said last year. The number of school drop-outs steadily decreased each year between 2016 and 2020 but then rose again in the 2020-2021 school year, data from the Education Ministry showed.
(This article was first published by the Luxemburger Wort. Translation and additional reporting by John Monaghan)
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