2 February 2024

AT the start of the 2022 school year, Pap Ndiaye had declared that the question of school co-education was “very clearly one of the priorities”. In several recent speeches, notably in the Senate, the Minister of Education has clarified his policy.

One of the proposed measures consists in developing the bi-college sectors, a policy tested by Najat Vallaud-Belkacem: from 2017, particularly in the 18e district of Paris, students from two colleges, 600 meters apart but with diametrically opposed social profiles, were educated together. Although feared, a flight of favored social categories to the nearby private college has not been observed, and this system has allowed a significant increase in social diversity (Grenet and Souidi, 2021).

In two hundred colleges with contrasting social situations, Pap Ndiaye wants the implementation of such a policy. This measure is relevant, but it will affect less than 4% of the 5,300 public colleges. This is more of an extended experiment than a policy likely to significantly reduce school segregation.

Social recruitment gap

Another policy presented is to reserve the creation of international sections only for disadvantaged establishments. This policy has the advantage of avoiding or reducing the flight of privileged students to public or private establishments with such sections.

However, only sixteen international sections should be opened in 2023. The measure is symbolic, for lack of rethinking the entire educational offer (European and bilingual sections, language and artistic options, etc.), much more extensive in colleges and favored high schools. Moreover, this policy has the disadvantage of substituting intra-establishment segregation for inter-establishment segregation rather than promoting a real social mix of classes, necessary for a better efficiency of the French school.

Also read the column: Article reserved for our subscribers “We must engrave in legislative stone an objective of social and ethnic diversity in colleges”

Another measure proposed by the Minister relates to the special status of private establishments under contract. Funded 77% by the State and local authorities, they participate in a public service mission without ensuring a cardinal constraint: to welcome students regardless of their social origin and their educational level. This problematic situation largely contributes to the poor social mix in French schools. Since 1995, the social recruitment gap between the public and private sectors has continued to grow. This gap is detrimental to equality of opportunity and efficiency.

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