The following OECD assessment and recommendations summarise Chapter 4 of the Economic Survey of Luxembourg 2006 published on 5 July 2006.
Pre-school plays a vital role in promoting social unity. The aim is to ensure not only that children learn to socialise, as in other countries, but also that those from non-Lëtzebuergesch-speaking homes learn to speak the language. As noted above, such language competency helps to prepare children from homes where neither Lëtzebuergesch nor German is spoken for acquiring basic literacy skills in primary school in German. According to the authorities, immigrant children are able to speak Lëtzebuergesch when they begin primary school. Work is underway to elaborate the basic vocabulary that children should learn during these years.
Participation in pre-school is compulsory from age 4, and has been extended on a voluntary basis to children aged 3 since 1998 with a view to giving immigrant children more time to learn Lëtzebuergesch. Approximately 85% of municipalities now offer pre-school education to 3-year olds and all must do so by 2009. About 75% of 3-year olds are enrolled.
Assistance is also provided in several pre-schools to children of Portuguese origin to help them to master their mother tongue as doing so enhances the development of cognitive and communication skills, facilitating the learning of other languages. The Portuguese-speaking persons who give these courses also explain to the students in Portuguese the course material to be taught in class (in Lëtzebuergesch). The authorities report that experience with these courses has been positive. Given that Portuguese-speaking students comprise around one half of immigrant students and that the level of education attainment of their parents is lower than for most other immigrant groups, the emphasis on providing such courses in Portuguese is well founded.
Classes have been offered since 1991 that enable students having difficulty learning in German to study material from the official primary-school programme in Portuguese or Italian. These classes, which take place during regular school hours, comprise introductory science from the 1st to the 4th year of primary school and, in the 5th and 6th years, natural science, history and geography. While few children of Italian nationality take them, they have proved increasingly popular with Portuguese students (Berg and Weis, 2005, p. 75). To help children from Romance-language households further in the second and third years of primary school, a series of mathematics manuals has been translated into French and the activity files for the introduction to science course have been produced in bilingual (French-German) form (ibid, p. 102). Moreover, supplementary courses in German are offered at the primary-school level to improve the German-language competence of immigrant children.
Integrating immigrant children who did not begin their education in the Luxembourg system is particularly challenging, especially if they have not acquired their literacy skills in a French or German speaking country. There are special classes for such students (the same holds for newly arrived students at secondary school) in which German and/or French are taught intensively with a view to enabling them to join the regular education programme as soon as possible. These classes have high teacher-pupil ratios to facilitate more rapid progress.
Greater efforts have also been made in recent years to inform immigrant parents about the education of their children (the same holds for secondary education) and to encourage such parents to take an interest in it (ibid, p. 101). To this end, meetings are organised to inform parents and encourage an exchange of views and information bulletins are produced in a variety of languages. Intercultural mediators facilitate communication between teachers and parents.
A recent reform in vocational education has created the possibility for students to be instructed in French or German without having to achieve a high level of competence in the other language. The supply of courses in French has been enlarged, initially at the lower secondary level but more recently in the middle and upper levels of the more advanced tracks (Régime technique and Régime de technicien). The authorities report a positive experience with this reform. Textbooks also have been produced in bilingual (German-French) versions in some subjects in the more advanced track and in French in some cases in the less advanced vocational track.
Average of student performance in mathematics, reading, science, and problem solving
Source: OECD, PISA 2003.
How to obtain this publication
The Policy Brief (pdf format) can be downloaded. It contains the OECD assessment and recommendations, but not all of the charts included on the above pages.
The complete edition of the Economic Survey of the Luxembourg 2006 is available from:
For further information please contact the Luxembourg Desk at the OECD Economics Department at firstname.lastname@example.org. The OECD Secretariat's report was prepared by David Carey, Ekkehard Ernst and Stefaan Ide under the supervision of Patrick Lenain.