Accompanied by six ministers, Emmanuel Macron gave a speech on Friday, October 2, detailing his action plan to fight against “Separatism”, a term used by the President of the Republic in the public debate following the attack at the Paris Police Prefecture in October 2019 to target the practice of an Islam that breaks with social and political rules.
The executive plans to finalize its bill by mid-October so that it is presented to the Council of Ministers in early December, then discussed in Parliament in the first half of 2021. Here are the main measures concerning education.
Read also Find Emmanuel Macron’s announcements on secularism and “separatism”
Home instruction will be “strictly limited”
Emmanuel Macron announced, Friday, October 2, that home schooling will be, from the start of the 2021 school year, “Strictly limited, in particular to health requirements”, and that it will therefore become compulsory within the school from the age of 3. ” It is a necessity. I made a decision, undoubtedly one of the most radical since the laws of 1882 and those ensuring the school mix between boys and girls in 1969 ”, underlined the Head of State during this speech on the separatisms which he delivered at Mureaux (Yvelines).
“Today, more than 50,000 children are educated at home, a figure that is increasing every year”, said the head of state. “Every week, rectors find cases of children totally outside the system. “ The president spoke of parents of students who refuse to put their children in music lessons or in the swimming pool, and it is then, according to him, “Deschooling”. In February 2020, the Minister of Education mentioned “From 2,000 to 3,000 situations involving young people that could pose a problem and are closely monitored”. At the time, he claimed that the “Half” of home-educated children were educated for medical reasons.
“These children do not go to CNED [Centre national d’enseignement à distance] but in structures not declared at all ”, continued Mr. Macron. “Walls, almost no windows, women in niqabs who welcome them, prayers, certain classes, this is their teaching”, he said. “Every month, prefects close “schools” often administered by religious extremists ”, he added.
The number of children following home schooling has been rising sharply for several years, even if it still only concerns a low ratio of students (around 0.5%), compared to 12.4 million. children in public and private education. At the start of the 2019 school year, home instruction concerned 41,000 children, and 35,000 in 2018, the Ministry of Education said. Since the introduction of the 3-year instruction obligation at the start of the 2019 school year, inspections have been stepped up, the number of inspectors providing them increased, and their training strengthened.
Emmanuel Macron also confirmed that the devices for optional courses in foreign languages provided by teachers appointed by the governments of other countries (ELCO) would be removed, in accordance with what he announced last February. The calendar, at the time, was set for the start of the 2020 school year. These devices were initially intended to allow children of family reunification to maintain a link with their country of origin – and to facilitate their eventual return.
These ELCOs, which were the subject of contracts with Algeria, Morocco and Turkey, offer courses taught by teachers who are sometimes non-French speaking and without national education control, he recalled. About 80,000 children attend them outside of school time. These establishments have for years harbored suspicions of religious proselytism, criticism of the content taught as much as of the recruitment of teachers, the responsibility of the countries of origin.
Reinforced supervision for schools outside the contract
Finally, non-contract schools which are “More controlled thanks to the Gatel law will be the subject of an even reinforced framework”, assured Emmanuel Macron, insisting on the need to “Carry out administrative closures when they are necessary”.
Some 1,700 non-contract private establishments currently enroll around 85,000 children (50,000 in the first stage, 35,000 in the second). Contrary to popular belief, only a third of these establishments are denominational, the rest being divided between so-called alternative schools (of the Montessori type, which are growing rapidly) and others, which are secular.
These establishments, which do not receive any public money and are free to recruit, may be exempt from school programs but must have transmitted to their students, at the end of their schooling, the same ” common ground “ than that available to their comrades in the public and private sectors under contract.
Two avenues are put forward to strengthen their control: better monitor the educational content of lessons, sometimes described as incomplete or even non-existent during the most problematic inspections, and better control the source of funding for these schools.