Ihe temptation is strong to regret that an opportunity has been missed in the light of the latest announcements made by the Minister of Education, Pap Ndiaye, to promote greater social diversity at school. By putting this subject back in the foreground, of which he makes a “condition of the success of each student” and a means, for the school of the Republic, “to keep its promise of equal opportunity”, the tenant in the rue de Grenelle had shown strong convictions. However, the effectiveness of the means presented to achieve this raises doubts.
At the end of a laborious process at the time of the last arbitrations, Pap Ndiaye unveiled a less ambitious plan than what his multiple declarations since the start of the school year had suggested. A protocol has been signed with private education, whose support is essential and which assures of its goodwill in the matter, but no binding commitment has been required of it. For the public, the Minister relies on the academy rectors, to whom quantified objectives have been set. It is up to them to draw inspiration from ” toolbox “ of ideas proposed by the ministry to facilitate social mixing between establishments which concentrate opposite proportions of pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds. Everywhere, this ambition will largely depend on the voluntarism of local authorities, which control the decisive lever of the school map, the first instrument to act in favor of social diversity.
Low-noise school segregation
The modesty of the announcements, which boil down more to a given impetus than to real transformations, unfortunately reflects the political weight of a neophyte. Emmanuel Macron, who has never made the increase in social diversity one of his national causes, seems to have estimated that the relative majority he has in the National Assembly did not allow him to challenge the right of government on this topic. The latter, who did not refrain from screaming preventively at the school war when it came to involving private education, quickly understood that she had there a file likely to mask her deep divisions, put naked during the battle of the retreats.
This right does not seem to care what the indices of social position (IPS) of high schools have revealed. This statistical tool, in place since 2016, made public at the end of 2022, has nevertheless brought to light the photo of low-noise school segregation which should leave no one indifferent.
The studies carried out to date on schools that have committed themselves to greater social diversity, particularly in Haute-Garonne, are nevertheless likely to dispel many fantasies. The impacts of these efforts are certainly limited on the results of pupils from underprivileged backgrounds, but this does not penalize those who come from the top of the social ladder. The main lesson is elsewhere: this greater diversity reinforces social cohesion, academic self-esteem and a feeling of optimism in all pupils.
While we continue to lament the bankruptcy of a French social model, of which education is the collateral victim, and the ravages of self-segregation, these benefits cannot be swept away by a setback. tomorrow. It is therefore to be hoped that Pap Ndiaye’s attempt will at least result in making this objective of greater diversity a constant concern. We all stand to gain.