Another example of discrimination of SWALS students

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It is unbelievable how new Mamer school management doesn’t have a clue about situation of minorities in the school.

New secondary Deputy Director Mrs Leene Soekov was asked to clarify why SWALS students are not allowed to take ICILS 2018 tests.

Answer from Leene Soekov:

Thank you for your email regarding the ICILS 2018.
Please be informed that it is the first time the study is conducted and it is meant for Luxembourgish school system. As we are piloting the test outside the national system we have included only the mother tongue speakers of DE, FR and EN and we have not included any of the students of our school whose second language is DE, EN or FR because of the complexity of the questions set up. The results will not be divided by L1 and L2 categories and we do not want to have the L2 speakers be in an unfair position compared to the mother tongue speakers.

Kind regards,

Leene Soekov

That is why I sent this email to the school director.

Dear Mr Frithiofson,

As my wife informed you, there has been another example of discrimination of SWALS students. Your coordinator Mr Gerhard Pelikan told us that there would be ICILS test for S3 pupils, but only for a native speaker. I thought it was a typo and all the children in the classes will be invited for testing since they are all studying math in L1 and (most of them) are in these sections from Maternelle. It looks like SWALS students have good knowledge of the language to follow math classes and for the marks in the school but not good enough to take the test. Also, pupils who were accepted by your school as good enough to have 6 hours of maths next year can’t take the test since Mr Pelikan thinks they will not be able to understand test questions (?!).

Problem with a teaching staff

There are constant problems with Mr Pelikan’s understanding of SWALS status (rights and (if any) privileges). Three years ago he was involved in a scandal with his racist behaviour and mismanagement of SWALS students in S1 at the beginning of the school year. You can read about more about catastrophic timetable management.

I would appreciate your quick reaction to include all S3 students for testing. It is the general behaviour of this school to wait till the event is over and then reply to parents that unfortunately it is to late to do anything. If you are not sure if their language skills are good enough for testing, you can consult their math teachers.

As you can see from the reply from the deputy director, she also doesn’t understand the situation of SWALS students. They have mathematics at the same level as all the other students.

Thank you and kind regards.


Who are SWALS?

The European Schools provide teaching in the official languages of the European Union. However, not all of the schools are able to provide the full study cycle in all of these languages. 

SWALS are those categories I and II pupils whose mother tongue/dominant language is an official language of an EU Member State (with the exception of Irish and Maltese) but for whom no language section in their mother tongue/dominant language (L1) exists in their school. Ore information can be found here.

Pupils enrolled in a European School which does not have a language section corresponding to their mother tongue are enrolled in one of the existing language sections of the school in question. However, they may take advantage of educational support​ in the language of the section in which they enroll.

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