8 September 2023

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

A teacher and students from the Albert-Camus primary school in La Machine (Nièvre) are preparing to welcome the Prime Minister, Elisabeth Borne, and Pap Ndiaye, Minister of National Education, Friday March 31, 2023.

France is one of the countries where social origin weighs the most in the success of students and where the circumvention of the school map as well as the use of private education strongly accentuate the establishment of a self-segregation. which, in a number of places, borders on social and educational separatism.

Thus middle-school pupils of well-to-do backgrounds have on average twice as many classmates from well-to-do backgrounds as pupils from the middle and lower classes.
Minister Pap Ndiaye has been promising for several months to take up the subject of social and educational diversity. If his announcements are regularly postponed, the fact remains that his hearing by the Senate, on 1er March, made it possible to identify the measures it plans to take, which should be confirmed shortly.

Read also: Article reserved for our subscribers “The social mix policy proposed by Pap Ndiaye will have negligible, even counterproductive effects”

First, college pairs. System already implemented and tested under Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, it aims to mix the cohorts of students affected in geographically close schools but whose social composition differs greatly. Where this measure has been implemented, such as in Paris or Toulouse, the results are more than positive, and the minister would be wrong not to develop it.

Also read the survey: Article reserved for our subscribers “The children got together very quickly”: in Toulouse and Paris, social diversity at school is proving its worth

Then, the question of the attractiveness of colleges. The Minister wishes to develop courses of excellence – international, bilingual or artistic sections – in underprivileged establishments. This certainly very interesting measure must be implemented with vigilance in order to avoid certain abuses.
Indeed, it does not in any way guarantee co-education in classes, as students can be educated in the same establishment without knowing a common schooling. However, how could these young people adhere to the principle of “living together” if they do not benefit from a common schooling?

According to the report of the National Center for the Study of School Systems “Social and school mix, inter and intra-school segregation in French colleges and high schools” of 2015, the options and other courses put in place generate school segregation in 45% of colleges and a form of social separatism in 25% of colleges.

Question the parents

The third track would be to make an agreement with private education. Financed at 73% by public money, private education is not subject to any constraint as regards the recruitment of its pupils. The Minister plans to introduce a bonus/penalty based on the reception of scholarship students.
However, it turns out that a global agreement is impossible since only the establishments have the legal capacity to sign a contract with the State. What will be the scope of this measure which, in fact, is limited to an “incentive” in the sense that each institution will be free to engage or not in this system?

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