Watching the enthusiastic Tom and Lilian, CP students at the Albert-Camus school in La Machine, in the Nièvre, show her their scribbled exercise sheets, perhaps she forgot, if only a few moments, the protest around the pension reform. The objective for Elisabeth Borne, during her trip to rural schools on Friday March 31 – the first since the start of the social movement – was, in any case, to look forward.
The Prime Minister has been working for several days on the development of her new government program, of which education is one of the three pillars, along with health and ecology. For Elisabeth Borne, if “general answers” must be brought to educational matters, such as “ensure all teacher replacements, including short-term ones”, “specific responses are to be built according to the territories”.
The same applies to class closures. The elimination of a thousand posts in primary schools at the start of the 2023 school year undertaken with the demographic decline – France will lose 500,000 pupils during the five-year term – makes the question even more eruptive this year. According to a count by the main primary school union, the SNUipp-FSU, more than 2,200 classes will close at the start of the school year, around 1,500 according to the Minister of Education, Pap Ndiaye. The situation takes on particular relief in rural areas, where small schools are in danger.
“Attacks to our Republic”
So, Elisabeth Borne says she wants “change method” for these territories. “We must be able to anticipate and provide more transparency on the evolution of the school map”, judges the Prime Minister. She wants to give “a three-year vision of class closures”considering that one can establish forecasts according to the number of births.
This is a way to bring “concrete response”, as requested by the President of the Republic. Thursday, March 30, the Prime Minister brought together Pap Ndiaye, her minister delegate for vocational education, Carole Grandjean, and a dozen parliamentarians from the majority for a “work meeting on the obstacles to education”. The latter told him, among other things, of the need to work more closely with local elected officials.
Class closures crystallize, it is true, tensions both with teachers and parents and with communities. Fabien Bazin, president of the departmental council of Nièvre, wrote to Pap Ndiaye before this trip. Proposing that his department become “a rural school laboratory”he denounces in this letter “a school map of incredible violence”, with some “removals of posts and hours” which are “so many attacks on our Republic”.
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