2 February 2024

This column appears in “Le Monde de l’éducation”. If you are subscribed to Worldyou can subscribe to this weekly newsletter by following this link.

The winter holidays have in no way erased the incomprehension and anger at the decisions announced concerning the school map and the overall time allocations of colleges and high schools for the start of the new school year next September.

President Macron and his Minister of Education, Pap Ndiaye, plan to cut 1,500 jobs for the start of the 2023 school year and to withdraw resources from first and second degree establishments on the sole pretext of a drop in the number of students.

However, on closer inspection, this development is extremely relative. France is in fact known to be one of the European countries with the highest numbers per class. More specifically, almost a third of our primary schools have enrollments more than 25 students when many colleges have 25 and 26 students per class and high schools at 29 and 30…

But no matter, for the government, what matters most is to save money. He runs the school like a business. Its action is limited to matching supply and demand, and releasing a product at the lowest cost. His priorities are financial, not educational.

If it were otherwise, can we really imagine that the government would not take advantage of this demographic decline by using it as a formidable lever to improve the working conditions of students and teachers? Would he take the risk of further degrading the quality of reception and operation of our public education system?

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This demographic decline should benefit the school, not Bercy. It is a unique opportunity to reduce the number of classes, to work in small groups, to set up differentiated courses, to increase the number of substitutes and thus put an end to the multiple non-replaced absences, to allow teachers lastly, to benefit from continuous training, to deal effectively with serious difficulties at school by reconstituting networks of specialized aid for pupils in difficulty (Rased) and by recruiting school psychologists, to provide decent accommodation for pupils with disabilities, to diversify the options and courses in the second degree…

Scuttle the public service

The government has not taken this direction. And today, we must fight not to obtain additional means – yet necessary, the whole educational community agrees – but simply to prevent the abolition of current means: such are the battles waged tirelessly for weeks by parents. , educational teams, students and elected officials in many urban and rural areas. This is the translation of a deterioration of our school which, let us remember, has lost 9,322 full-time equivalents since 2017.

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