In search of the public debate

By Christian BlockLex Kleren Switch to German for original article

After widespread opposition, the law to open principal positions in specialised secondary schools to candidates from the private sector is on hold for the time. But the voices warning of a creeping privatisation of public schools are getting louder. The outcome remains uncertain.

The wave of excitement in connection with the draft bill numbered 7662 has subsided for now. After widespread opposition, the bill was taken off the agenda of the parliamentary session on November 18. However, the reform proposal is not off the table, nor have the concerns of numerous stakeholders who warn of a privatisation of public schools been dispelled.

Including Ana Pinto. With the support of teachers, she has launched a petition, specifically opposing the legislative proposal to open principal positions in four vocational secondary schools to candidates from the private sector, but also calling for a ‘Stop to the privatisation of public schools’. She is addressing concerns that have been voiced for years by a trade union similar to the Education and Science Workers’ Union (SEW/OGBL) and which seem to be gaining increasing attention. For example, a private Facebook group initiated by teachers ‘for technically and pedagogically qualified staff in our schools and head offices’ and ‘against the privatisation of public schools’ grew to more than 4,460 members within a very short time. More than 4,800 people supported the petition, which was also promoted by teachers' unions. There will be a hearing and discussion in parliament on February 3rd at 10.30 am.

Knowledge of pedagogy is required

Ana Pinto and her fellow campaigners do not fundamentally reject the opening up of executive positions in schools. However, in addition to a solid knowledge of the three official languages as well as English, potential applicants must have at least ten years of experience on a full-time basis in front of a class and also have the “necessary qualifications as a human being”. “At the head of a school, you need a person with multidisciplinary talents and experience in education especially, because this is one of the most important factors in dealing with young people and their motivation”, shares Ana Pinto in a written statement prepared with other teachers in response to questions from the Lëtzebuerger Journal. Nowadays, in schools, there are “many human destinies that require an open ear, a lot of understanding and patience”.  One of the teachers, who helped set up the Facebook group adds that the directorate’s pedagogical knowledge comes into play when parents and the school are at odds or students dispute the grade of an exam. In addition to negotiating skills, multilingualism and knowledge of school legislation are required. Managerial qualities such as efficiency-oriented thinking, on the other hand, are not needed.

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The price of justice