2 February 2024

Pap Ndiaye, Minister of National Education and Youth, in the Senate, April 12, 2023.

It is called “Council of Elders” or “Council of Elders of Secularism”, but its full title is Council of Elders of Secularism and the Values ​​of the Republic. To imprint his mark and differentiate himself from Jean-Michel Blanquer, his predecessor and creator of this body, Pap Ndiaye decided to take this official name literally and to insist on all the “values ​​of the Republic”. These cover “fields wider than the principle of secularism stricto sensu”informed the Minister of National Education at World. The advisory body, first installed in January 2018, must see its missions and its composition expanded, during a second solemn installation, Friday, April 14.

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Jean-Michel Blanquer had set up this council to “specify the position of the educational institution in terms of secularism”, while he positioned himself strongly on these issues in the political field. He had done it “to reinstate secularism in a combative way where it was abused or ignored”, explains one of the board members on condition of anonymity. Five years later, the “wise men” – intellectuals and recognized personalities – published a series of reference texts, including the vade-mecum “La laïcité à l’école”, and participate at the same time in training actions for national education managers and staff.

From now on, Pap Ndiaye wants the council to invest more strongly in the fight against discrimination, and against racism and anti-Semitism in particular. “Anything that undermines the Republican contract can undermine the confidence that one should have in the school of the Republic. Working on these issues also means strengthening school and secularism.assures Pap Ndiaye.

“Emancipation Value”

Among the questions the Minister wishes to see explored: “How can schools be at the forefront of the fight against racism and anti-Semitism? » Another example that appeals to him: “Many Jewish children would have left public school. It is unbearable that children leave because they fear in one way or another for their well-being and their safety. »

Does this mean that, for Pap Ndiaye, questions around secularism take second place and will be diluted, as some, even within the “council of wise men”, are worried about? The Minister denies this: “On the contrary, the credibility of the fight against attacks on secularism is also ensured by the intransigence with regard to racist and anti-Semitic acts, as with all forms of discrimination. » For him, “attacks on secularism are not only confronted by sanctions and by law. They also fight each other positively. » Thus, secularism “must not only be feared, it must be loved and seen as an emancipatory value”.

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