Published on 15/03/2022 9:40 am

In the end of February, the Ministry of Education presented a draft bill, education will be compulsory for everyone under 18. Luxembourg follows a European trend. The United Kingdom took this step already in 2013, in Belgium as well young people go to school until majority.

Luxembourg’s Minister of Education Claude Meisch wants to follow this trend to avoid youth from dropping out of school without a diploma. In the school year 2020/21, nearly 650 students under 18 dropped out of school, and 88 percent of those are neither in employment nor in education or training. It is legitimate to question if forcing them to stay in school longer would be a good solution. Jos Bertemes, headteacher at Ecole Nationale pour Adultes (ENAD), says, keeping the youth longer in school might be a good idea in some cases, “but there need to be different types of schools, different from what they are used to. They have done it; they don’t want it anymore. One would have to think about a different learning model.”

In his press release, Minister of Education Claude Meisch (DP) said: “Many young people don’t reject school; they have the feeling that school rejects them.” In the eyes of the Ministry, keeping them in the education system until they turn 18, would open more professional perspectives and allow them to finish school education.

Jos Bertemes already tries to give a perspective to young people. ENAD, the national school for adults, offers education to young adults who left school without a degree. For Bruno (19), it was the only available choice; if not ENAD, he would have had to work immediately. He left the lycée without a diploma, his grades weren’t good enough. Bruno is most interested in history and geography. But he doesn’t really know yet what to do in life.

Around 550 students are currently at ENAD. All of them over 18. It is their decision to go back to school, to continue studying and obtain a degree. The education program requires a certain degree of commitment. “During the admission process, every student has to identify a project that he wants to pursue. This project will be monitored during his whole career.” Until 2018, ENAD was called Ecole de la deuxième chance (school of second chance). The name was changed because “A school for second chance implies that you didn’t take your first chance but for most of our students, this is not right. When we discover their learning biographies, we see that they never had a first chance”, Jos Bertemes says.

Within the Ministry of Education’s draft bill, new facilities for alternative education shall be set up. While the mandatory education until 18 is ready to go, these complementary structures are still work in progress. The Ministry of Education is sounding the options with private bodies in the social sector.

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Local Matters: Second-chance education