Each child aged 3 years or above living in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg has a right to school education. At that age, early childhood education is optional (additional year of cycle 1). Nevertheless, children enrolled have to attend school regularly.
Compulsory schooling starts from the moment children have completed the age of 4 years on 1 September. It finishes 12 years later with the completed age of 16 at the same date. The pupils have to take part in all courses and school activities.
School education is followed mostly in public schools free of charge. Alternatively, parents may enrol their child in a private educational institution, a European school or a school abroad. Under the conditions provided for by the law, they may also chose to have their child taught at home (see 'home education' below).
Children with specific or special needs have to comply to compulsory education as all others. The school system has to provide appropriate support related to their needs and difficulties (see 12. Educational Support and Guidance). As to pupils enrolled in a specialised psycho-pedagogical competence centre, they also have to be enrolled in their original school or, if applicable, in a structure designated by the national Inclusion commission (CNI), according to the law of 20 July 2018 (loi du 20 juillet 2018, art. 34).
If required by their child's physical or intellectual development, parents can ask the municipal council to delay their child's enrolment into Cycle 1 of primary education. This request needs to be endorsed by a paediatrician's certificate.
The communal authorities have to ensure their citizens' compliance with compulsory schooling. In particular, they have to check whether all children of compulsory school age regularly attend school. Monitoring of compulsory schooling is carried out by means of the comparison between the residents' register, managed by the municipalities, and the Education ministry's student files. Parents of children enrolled in an establishment other than public have to enter a registration certificate at their communal authority.
Rights and responsibilities of pupils and parents
All children living in Luxembourg are automatically registered by the primary public school of their residence. If the child is enrolled in another school, the parents have to inform the municipal authorities within eight days after the beginning of the courses. From the moment the child fulfils the admission requirements for secondary school, parents have the responsibility to register them.
The pupil has to participate in the courses and other school activities. Parents have to ensure their child's regular attendance.
If their child is absent for legitimate reasons (illness, a parent's death or force majeure), the parents have to inform the class teacher or head teacher.
If the child fails to comply to compulsory schooling, the municipal authorities send the parents a letter of formal notice reminding them of their obligations and of the applicable legal sanctions. Failure to comply is punished by a 25€ to 250€ fine.
According to article 21 of the modified law on primary education (loi modifiée du 6 février 2009), a pupil may follow schooling at home under the conditions defined by legislation and with the monitoring of the Ministry of Education, Childhood and Youth.
The parents have to enter a declaration at the municipality of their residence and submit a motivated request to the head of the regional directorate (directeur de région). This request may be made at any moment of the school year. Legislation doesn't specify any requirement concerning the home teacher's level of education.
The authorisation of the regional directorate is required throughout the learner's compulsory schooling, i.e. until the completed age of 16 years.
The head of the regional directorate may grant their authorisation for a limited period of time.
Home education has to follow the same curriculum as public schools. The pedagogical objective is to have the learner achieve the basic skills levels defined by the curriculum.
If a learner follows a distance learning programme via online courses following a different curriculum, the head of the regional regional directorate may allow an exemption for one or several subjects.
At the end of the school year, except if otherwise necessary, the head of regional directorate examines whether the pupil has attained the grade's basic skills levels. This evaluation consists of written and oral tests in the subjects defined in article 7 of the law on primary education.
In case the instruction received by the learner doesn't correspond to the set criteria, the head of regional directorate automatically registers the learner at their primary school of residence. This consequence also applies if the parents do not agree with the evaluation.
Learning opportunities in the public school system and stages of education
Luxembourg's public school system includes a large variety of educational pathways. A large choice of internationally-minded educational possibilities aims at fitting the needs of Luxembourg's increasingly diverse and multicultural population (see 1.3 Population).
Besides the national Luxembourgish education system, as described in the Overview page, several transnational and international variations are organised and funded by the State in the framework of free and public education provision:
- German-Luxembourgish education
- European education
- UK-style education
- International education.
The figure below shows the general overview of the public education system, including European and international public education provision. It can be downloaded in several languages (French, German, English, Portuguese) from the Ministry of Education's website.
Structure of the Luxembourgish national education system
Elementary school: early childhood, preschool and primary
Elementary school (école fondamentale) is organised in two-year cycles, except the first cycle which includes an optional preliminary year of early childhood education for 3-year-olds.
Pupils usually attend elementary school until their age of 11 years.
- Cycle 1: early childhood education (optional at the age of 3 years) and pre-school education (mandatory) for children between the ages of 4 and 5 years.
Primary education corresponds to cycles 2 to 4:
- Cycle 2: for 6- to 7-year-olds
- Cycle 3: for 8- to 9-year-olds
- Cycle 4: for 10- to 11-year-olds.
Primary education aims at improving learners' educational achievement while allowing teachers enough autonomy to adapt their teaching methods to pupils’ needs and possibilities. In order for pupils to attain the basic skills levels (socles de compétences) defined for each cycle, the schools may differentiate their pedagogical methods and launch targeted initiatives on establishment level.
Secondary education starts at the theoretical age of 12 years. It is subdivided into two branches (ordres d'enseignement):
- Classic secondary education (ESC) usually lasts 7 years and imparts general knowledge in the fields of human sciences, mathematics and natural sciences. ESC leads to the classic secondary school leaving diploma (diplôme de fin d’études secondaires classiques). Teaching and learning in ESC are academically oriented and mainly prepare for higher education and university
- General secondary education (ESG) is more vocationally oriented and has a standard duration of 6 to 8 years depending on the pathway chosen. ESG prepares students for working life. It starts with 3 years of lower secondary education (learners aged 12 to 14 years) or, alternatively, modular classes of the preparatory route (voie de préparation) with a view to integrating students into mainstream technical or vocational education.
The General secondary final diploma (diplôme de fin d’études secondaires générales) allows access to higher education. ESG also prepares learners to professional life.
The structure of the educational provision in general secondary education is:
- Lower years of ESG (3 years in either 'Guidance route', or alternatively the 'Preparatory route', which is a modular curriculum aiming at the learners' integration into the regular ESG classes)
- Higher years (4 years), leading to the general secondary school leaving diploma
- Vocational education and training:
- Technician's regime (4 years), leading to the technicians diploma (DT; diplôme de technicien) which allows access to higher technical studies via preparatory modules
- Vocational regime (3 years), leading to the diploma of vocational aptitude (DAP; diplôme d’aptitude professionnelle) or to the certificate of vocational capacity (CCP; certificat de capacité professionnelle).
Both Technician's regime and Vocational regime represent the initial vocational education and training as available in the Luxembourgish education system.
Post-secondary non-tertiary education
In the field of post-secondary non-tertiary education, the chamber of Trade proposes preparatory courses for the nationally recognised master craftsman’s diploma (brevet de maîtrise), which allows artisans to work as independent craftsmen and to train apprentices.
Higher education is mainly provided by:
- The University of Luxembourg: bachelor programmes, master programmes, doctoral studies and a range of other programmes, such as secondary school teachers’ training (see Eurydice article 9.1)
- Short-cycle programmes: vocational short-cycle programmes leading to an advanced technicians diploma (BTS; brevet de technicien supérieur) provided at general secondary schools
- Private and cross-border programmes: organised by private or foreign institutions accredited to provide higher education in Luxembourg, or via cross-border partnerships (e.g. between foreign universities and Luxembourgish research institutes or professional chambers).
State financial aid for higher education is available to all students independent of their age or the country of their studies. A large number of Luxembourg's residents benefit from financial aid to pursue higher studies abroad.
There is no comprehensive legal framework for programmes in the field of adult education. Different offers of education and training are available:
- Adult secondary education provided by secondary schools and taught by secondary school teachers; all public institutions are automatically authorised to offer adult learning activities
- Continuous vocational education and training (CVET) proposed by different categories of providers (see 3.3 Adult Education and Training Funding) and comprising general and also sectorial offers. The State provides various types of support for adult learners in order to ease their access to continuing professional development
- Adult higher education provided by the University of Luxembourg, private or cross-border providers or foreign institutions
- Adult general education, i. e. non-vocational courses provided by municipalities or non-profit organisations; these offers benefitting from subsides and coordination by the Ministry of Education.
Main types of education and training institutions
Before the beginning of compulsory education, childcare is provided by different kinds of public and private day-care centres.
From the age of 3 years onwards, children have the right to attend elementary schools. From the age of 4 years, school attendance is mandatory. Maisons-relais take over children (up to twelve years of age) outside school hours.
Secondary education is provided by ESC (enseignement secondaire classique) or ESG (enseignement secondaire général) lycées. These institutions may also provide secondary education for adults. Moreover, several ESG secondary schools offer short-cycle programmes leading to the advanced technician’s diploma (brevet de technicien supérieur).
The University of Luxembourg is the most important institution providing higher education. Furthermore, higher studies are also offered by foreign universities through professional chambers or public research centres.
Various types of institutions are active in the field of adult education:
- Secondary schools are active in offering formal secondary and second chance education
- Public institutions have been founded with specific objectives:
- Luxembourg National language institute (INLL; Institut national des langues Luxembourg) offering language classes exclusively targeted at adult learners
- National centre for continuing vocational training (CNFPC; Centre national de formation professionnelle continue) offering vocational training to (young) adults, unemployed persons or early school leavers
- National institute of public administration (INAP; Institut national d’administration publique) providing training for civil servants
- Many non-profit organisations provide adult general education
- The field of continuing vocational education and training comprises private commercial providers, non-profit providers and para-public providers as well as sectorial institutes, e.g. for the sectors of banking or construction.