2 February 2024

The canteen of a primary school in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence (Bouches-du-Rhône), June 23, 2022.

Private Catholic education is ready to welcome more disadvantaged students, but it has set a condition. He engages himself in “double in five years the rate of scholarship students” – on average 10% today – but only “in establishments where families receive social assistance equal to that which they receive when they enroll their child in a corresponding public establishment”, we read in the protocol signed Wednesday, May 17 between the General Secretariat of Catholic Education (SGEC) and the Ministry of National Education. A reference to subsidized transport rates and, above all, school catering for students in public education, which the private sector does not benefit from.

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Help with financing the canteen has been a flagship claim of the SGEC for years. At the start of the 2021 school year, its secretary general, Philippe Delorme, castigated a situation “unfair and discriminatory” and accused the public authorities of too often considering that there are “two categories of children”. In its contribution to the public debate during the 2022 presidential election, the SGEC described as“partly unfair” there “stigma” private education for his “shortcomings in terms of social and educational diversity” and affirmed that the establishments were “hindered in their desire for a wider reception by the absence of social support by the community of families (…) who made the choiceespecially in the canteen.

Local authorities are required to finance the ” Functionnary costs “ private classes under contract (upkeep of premises, school furniture, heating, water, etc.) under the same conditions as those of the corresponding classes in public education. But school catering has never been part of this compulsory envelope.

“1000 euros per year”

The explanation lies in the principles of the Debré law of 1959, which still governs the links between the State and private establishments under contract. “It is a law which concerns the teaching activity in private establishments”, recalls the historian Bruno Poucet. If the public authorities very largely finance the private sector under contract (up to 73%), it is in order to guarantee that we can “to class there”summarizes the researcher, and that children can receive the same free education regardless of the establishment linked to the State in which they are educated. “This law therefore does not provide for public subsidies for anything that is not linked to compulsory education, such as the canteen, boarding school or extracurricular”continues Mr. Poucet.

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