• The Minister of National Education met this Thursday the rectors to encourage them to take measures to fight against social segregation in schools.
  • It set them the goal of reducing "differences in social recruitment between institutions by 20% by 2027".
  • More precise announcements on its plan for coeducation will be made next Wednesday, when a protocol on the subject is signed with private education. But we already know the first tracks.

High expectations, a very long gestation period... The plan for social and school diversity, postponed to March and then April, was to be unveiled this Thursday. But Education Minister Pap Ndiaye has decided to postpone his announcements until next Wednesday when signing a protocol on the subject with private education. He just leaked some information about Thursday's meeting with the rectors. Even if it means arousing even more impatience, even disappointment, among education stakeholders. "We have been waiting for announcements since November. If they are postponed, it is probably because the issue is politically sensitive," comments the secretary general of Snes-FSU, Sophie Vénétitay.

Pap Ndiaye is all the more expected on the subject, as he had committed to act on this issue as soon as he arrived Rue de Grenelle. In an article published in LeMondein December, he hit the nail on the head, declaring his intention to "fight against all social determinisms". "A school that, while promising it, does not grant equality produces not only injustices, but also mistrust and a feeling of anger among the working classes," he wrote. In addition, the publication in recent months of the social position indices (IPS) of schools, colleges and high schools, measuring the social situation of students, had further highlighted the social segregation existing in the French school system.

A quantified target set for public institutions

This Thursday, Pap Ndiaye had therefore summoned the rectors to guide them on the subject. He set them the goal of increasing social diversity in public institutions "by reducing the differences in social recruitment between institutions by 20% by 2027," reports his entourage. Rémy-Charles Sirven, national secretary of SE-UNSA and secretary general of the National Committee for Secular Action (CNAL), welcomes this quantified ambition: "Jean-Michel Blanquer had not set any objectives for mixed education. It is useful to set a course and a reasonable time frame to achieve it. »

To do this, the Minister asked the rectors to create an academic body to steer co-education education, involving local authorities, school representatives and parents. The goal is to adapt the solutions to each territory. "It is difficult for an experiment in the field to be duplicated everywhere, because the social composition of institutions is very different from one territory to another," says Rémy-Charles Sirven. A roadmap of planned actions will be established at the end of 2023.

Multiplying bi-college sectors

Pending specific announcements, some elements of the toolbox that the Minister intends to propose to the academies are already known. Pap Ndiaye wishes, for example, to develop "sections of excellence" in disadvantaged institutions, such as international sections, classes with schedules arranged in music, cinema, theater. At the beginning of the school year, sixteen international sections should open, according to the minister's remarks to the Senate in March. A way to fight against the evaporation of some students to the private sector. But it also raises criticism: "We must be careful that these sections do not bring together privileged students in the same class, while their less privileged classmates would be in the other classes," says Rémy-Charles Sirven.

The ministry also plans to multiply the bi-college sectors, tested since 2016 in Paris, under the impetus of the Minister of Socialist Education, Najat Vallaud-Belkacem. The principle is to choose two public colleges that are geographically close, but that welcome students from very different social backgrounds. And to educate their students together, assigning them to these two colleges. The bi-college sectors already created in Paris have demonstrated their effectiveness. About 200 colleges could take part in this experiment. Sophie Vénétitay has some reservations, however: "In these bi-secondary sectors, coeducation has certainly improved. But the teams report their need for additional resources, for example, to offer support courses to students from disadvantaged schools who find themselves mixed with peers who sometimes have a higher academic level. The initiative set up in Toulouse in 2017 will also be emulated. Segregated colleges in the Grand Mirail district had been closed and their students had been distributed to more advantaged areas.

The private sector should be spared...

The government also wants to involve private education under contract (mainly Catholic), the State financing three quarters of the budget of these institutions. But the measures that will be announced should be limited, because the subject is highly flammable. The minister seems to have already given up imposing quotas of scholarship holders on private institutions and attaching them to the school map. Philippe Delorme, the secretary general of Catholic education, and Eric Ciotti, the president of the Republicans, having waved the specter of a "school war". "This threat has undoubtedly convinced the government not to impose overly restrictive measures on private education that would have plunged it into a political impasse," believes Rémy-Charles Sirven.

According to the first avenues mentioned, private education should be encouraged to welcome more scholarship holders by allowing families to benefit from social assistance from local authorities to finance the canteen in particular. Private institutions will also be encouraged to charge differentiated rates according to family income. Sophie Vénétitay fears these measures: "They risk leading to an exfiltration of the best scholarship students from the public sector into the private sector."

Rémy-Charles Sirven is also skeptical and believes more in the bill of the communist senator Pierre Ouzoulias which invites to condition the financing of private schools under contract to criteria of social and academic diversity.

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