2 February 2024

This column appears in “The World of Education”. If you subscribe to the “World”, you can subscribe to this weekly newsletter by following this link.

Achieving real social diversity in our colleges is not just a matter of State and the measures announced by our Minister of National Education, Pap Ndiaye, while they are undoubtedly going in the right direction, will unfortunately not be enough. to eradicate the segregationist drift that plagues our school system.

The college is today the symbol of our collective shadow. It condenses all the paradoxes of our living together and the gap between our words and our actions, both through our family strategies and our public policies. It is also in college that social determinism has the strongest impact, because it is the time when young people make their choices for the future based on their immediate environment. It is therefore with him that we must begin and it is from him that part of the solution can come.

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However, imposing diversity by coercion will not be enough. Difficult to implement priority education networks (REP) in colleges, which are those where social difficulties are most marked, and whose problems are often those of the neighbourhoods, this mix will be insufficient anyway to guarantee a real impact – knowing that it is only from 30% representativeness that a group has a systemic influence.

Solutions already implemented

More than forcing diversity, it is on the attractiveness of our REP and REP+ colleges that we must work to profoundly change the image that families, and more broadly society, have of schooling in these priority areas. There is an urgent need to restore their image by offering specific support throughout the duration of the students’ schooling, complementary to school learning, in line with the expectations of the professional world.

Families, whatever their social origin, must be convinced that their children will come out of their course in these colleges with essential skills for their future in a context of great adaptability in the face of the various crises we are facing. The priority is also to rekindle the desire in parents to bet on diversity and inclusion by understanding the mix of levels and experiences as a reciprocal richness, rather than developing avoidance strategies.

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