The reform of Ediff (Éducation différencié, or differentiated education) system, which now calls for specially trained teachers to be posted to regional primary education management centres to support children with special needs in local schools, has been heatedly debated over the last weeks.
On 3 October, Ediff staff representatives and the SEW organised a press conference during which 11 demands were outlined, as RTL reported on 4 October. Ediff stressed their refusal to send more than 160 of their specialised teachers to local schools. The team also disagreed with exposing children with special needs and their parents to the wider public.
Dany Maller, a representative of Ediff, explained during the conference: “For us it’s important to maintain a perspective from the outside. For a child, who should be integrated, problems either are with the child or with the system and we cannot get involved with that same system. We want to remain partners and be a bridge between the parents’ house and school.”
Moreover, SEW said that the quality of special pedagogy risked deteriorating because of a deficiency in school politics organisation. The two parties also noted that they didn’t feel included in the reform which they perceived as a hushed operation.
The same day, on 3 October, Claude Meisch, the DP education minister was invited to a broadcast interview by RTL, where he reacted to the demands of Ediff and SEW. Meisch stressed that in 2017, 100 workers were hired and in 2018, 200 more would be added to strengthen the sector for children with special needs. Meisch also denied that the reform was a hushed operation, claiming that the direction of the reform had been known for a longer time. It is of primary importance that the differentiated education sector in Luxembourg was adapted to international standards, Meisch explained in the interview with RTL:
“I want a strong regional structure, a team for children with special needs (ESEB, meaning équipe de soutien pour enfants à besoins), which needs to be widely established with many competent people. On a national level, I want competence centres, some of which are already in place and need to be developed and three new ones will be built–that’s what this is about. It is a huge reform, knowing that Ediff has been in place since 1973 and hasn’t been thoroughly modified. We have to become more inclusive in schools, and that’s what we are doing.”
Meisch also announced 3 concrete proposals, starting with 5 regional conferences planned with the multi-professional teams that include Ediff workers. He also proposed to Ediff workers with a long-standing experience to change to regional centres in order to establish a better trust foundation with the school system. Finally, Meisch explained that even though the posting of workers will be executed, Ediff people could be prioritised if they wanted to change into national competence centres.