1 December 2023

The Minister of National Education, Pap Ndiaye, has said it several times: the balance sheet classes, international sections and other classes with flexible hours are a “lever” of diversity. Particularly in colleges, where an ever-increasing proportion of advantaged students is concentrated in private education. The reasoning is simple: if the public “school offer” is more attractive than that of the private sector, families will be less tempted to avoid the sector college. The argument of maintaining diversity has been used to save the balance classes, called into question in 2015 by the college reform. These classes, where students study two modern languages ​​from the 6ehad at least the merit of maintaining a little diversity in less and less mixed colleges, it was argued.

Ultimately, although 30% of the balance sheet classes were abolished at the time, a particular effort was made to maintain or open them in the priority education colleges (REP): 65% of them offered them. in 2018, according to the latest figures available, those of the report of the “territories and success” mission (2019) co-directed by university professor Pierre Mathiot and general inspector Ariane Azéma. Only 59% of non-REP colleges offer this system. On the other hand, the international sections, reputed to be even more selective, are still few in the REPs, even if the national education opened forty-three of them at the start of the 2022 school year – and that the minister promised sixteen more in 2023.

What is the real impact of these devices on diversity? ” It’s hard to saysays Youssef Souidi, postdoctoral fellow at the CNRS, who has written a thesis on this subject. Including because the balance sheets are now part of the common law of priority colleges, and it is difficult to make it a differentiating factor. »

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The recruitment of a college being strongly correlated to its location, the effectiveness of the optional system depends largely on the pre-existing mix in the sector. “In a large metropolis, where housing is mixed, the establishment of an attractive option can be effective”, explains Youssef Souidi. In Paris, the Balzac school complex (17e arrondissement), long neglected, has thus regained its letters of nobility by hosting international sections of the 6e at the terminal. ” On the other handcontinues the researcher, a heavily segregated college in a neighborhood with little gender diversity will find it very difficult to bring in privileged students. »

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