Forced school dropout: Why students have to stop school in Luxembourg

During the 2020/21 school year, 1,771 students stopped their studies, most of them were in vocational training. But many of them did not leave the school benches of their own free will.

In some cases, these are young people who find themselves forced to put an end to their studies because they cannot find a place in a high school. The exact number of students affected by this topic is unclear. But according to National Union of Students of Luxembourg (UNEL), this situation is more widespread than one might think.

One example among many concerns the case of a 16-year-old boy, who after his 5th grade is forced to change high school, because his training is no longer offered in his old school. The family contacts five different high schools, without success, and even asks for help from the Ministry of Education, which directs the person concerned to the National Youth Service. Instead of entering 4th grade, as the family had hoped, the youngster is currently doing an internship via the SNJ to avoid at least having a hole in his CV. The family prefers not to testify publicly, for fear of negative consequences on the continuation of their child’s school career.

The spokesperson for UNEL, Estelle Born, is not surprised. They too are often witnesses to this type of situation. She explains that it is very difficult to convince young people to speak up, because they are afraid of possible repercussions.

“A big problem at the moment in Luxembourg is the fact that many students do not dare to speak out about the injustice of not being able to go to a school. It is a fundamental right to be able to go to school.”

UNEL also speaks of a “hidden phenomenon”. Those concerned are above all young people over the age of 16, who are therefore no longer under compulsory education, but also young people who aspire to specific training.

Formations “where probably also by political choice few places are offered. I’m immediately thinking of mechanic training. There too, young people often have difficulty finding a boss, because the market is so saturated. And all these factors mean that some students have to take an extended break in their education.

What UNEL lacks for these cases is concrete support and more information for those concerned. A lot of people just don’t know who to talk to. Apart from the Maison de l’Orientation, another service which acts specifically against dropping out of school is the School mediation.But they too are not yet well known to the general public, admits mediator Lis de Pina herself.

“I would say that over the last four years we have grown in popularity, but unfortunately it is still not enough. That is to say, at a national level, a lot of services and parents do not know that we exist .”

Even the Ministry of Education does not systematically refer to School Mediation, even though they report directly to the Ministry. The mediators, according to their own statements, can find a solution in more than 90% of cases.

“We see here a right to education. And if a student is motivated and wants to go to school, then we really get involved 300% to find a school for this young person. Whether with certain departments of the ministry or here internally. But if a young person wants to go to school, then he must be able to go.”

Question: “And the others also play the game?”

Lis de Pina: “Most yes. That’s why we’re here”.

Statistics on the number of young people in “forced” school dropouts, Lis de Pina does not have any either. That’s why it lacks a complete overview.

Moreover, the statistics of the Ministry of Education are incomplete. Only 17% gave a reason for dropping out of school during the 2020/21 school year. Among them, 1% of students dropped out because they were not accepted in any school. These figures are therefore far from reflecting the full reality. It is also important to emphasize that, even if it were only one pupil, it would already be one pupil too many who could not continue his schooling, solely because no establishment accepted him.

What the two actors agree on is that the great diversity of the Luxembourg school system with its many different training courses certainly does not facilitate the passage from one establishment to another.

Forced school dropout: Why students have to stop school in Luxembourg