Outsiders on an educational mission

By Misch Pautsch Switch to German for original article

Non-formal education is an important part of the daily lives of an increasing number of children in Luxembourg. Around half of them are currently in a Maison Relais. Yet staff at childcare centers often feel insufficiently involved in the complex education system.

"There has been a fundamental failure, in my view, to systematically link elementary school and Maisons Relais." The experienced social pedagogue, who works in a Maison Relais and prefers to remain anonymous, does not mince words in her opening statement: The fact that the staff of the "Service d'éducation et d'acceuil" (SEA) sit on fragmented "islets" makes it virtually impossible to point out acute problems with a common voice. The complicated administrative network of the SEA also includes the Maisons Relais, which are attended by about half of the children in Luxembourg. While all structures must adhere to regulations and quality criteria set by amont others the Ministry of Education (MEN), working conditions vary widely from house to house: most of the times, the municipalities in which the Maisons Relais are located are the responsible bodies. However, many aison relais are also run by a variety of large non-profit organizations such as the Red Cross, Caritas, Inter-Actions and, above all, Arcus. Others again are private institutions.

This division, according to the anonymous educator, poses a number of fundamental problems: "There seems to be no overarching concept of cooperation between formal – that is, "school" – and non-formal education in the Maison Relais." In some cases, they would be downright different worlds: For example, the punishment and reward system or the “traffic light” system that was introduced in elementary schools has been completely outdated conceptually for years and is hardly ever used in non-formal education. "Nevertheless, children from school regularly arrive here before lunch break with sweets because they did something right in school", says the trained educator. Here, two educational systems would run completely past one another at best and directly contradict each other at worst. This can lead to a lack of understanding and confusion among the children: "The children can't cope with that. It's always in the back of our minds, it annoys us, because we know: That's not right."

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