An undying desire to conquer Europe combined with endless winnings on the battlefields, Napoleon and Charlemagne left their marks as emblematic emperors of France’s history. To achieve their goals, they relied on education. Therefore, to train future exemplary officers of the empire, Charlemagne reinvented the school while Napoleon militarised and upgraded polytechnics. The educational system is etched by the country’s history and prestigious cultural heritage.
“The organisation of free secular compulsory public education at all levels is a state obligation.” – French constitution, 4th October 1958
Today’s system is based upon fundamental characteristics inspired by 1789’s revolution [...]
Free. The state covers registration fees,
and regional councils provide the books.
Mandatory. 6 to 16 years old nationals and
residents must attend school.
Secular. Out of respect for various personal
believes, no religious studies are included in the curriculum, since Jules
Ferry’s law in 1882.
Neutral. Philosophical and political
neutrality is imposed to teachers and students.
Access right to education. Diplomas are solely delivered by
[…] teaching French and one foreign language, basic mathematics and science, communication and information technics, autonomy and initiative, humanitarian culture and civics […]
[…] throughout primary school (age 3 to 11), middle school (age 11 to 15) and high school (age 15 to 18).
University VS School
Universities (no pre-selection, numerous fields of studies; around 400 euros per year) and schools (pre-selection, engineering, technology, politics or business; around 8000 euros per year) coexist within the French higher education system.
Society believed that graduating from
a school guarantied executive positions and earning big bucks. Thus, students
focused on passing entry exams rather than developing their professional
aspirations. However, in recent years, universities have shown quality
education by greatly improving their ranking and employment rates.
The French touch
As a relic from the colonisation, many foreigners
pursue their academic curriculums in French establishments, within or outside
the country. It is an opportunity to elevate one’s social status by standing out
in todays’ competitive labour market.
Opposed to its neighbours’ system allowing creativity,
and mobilising knowledge, the French way consists of reciting lessons. Also,
with overloaded schedules students are left with little to no time for
Facing the stereotypes at an early age
Right after middle school, model students pursue general studies (science, economics, literature) while those who did less well enrol in technologic or professional (apprenticeship) sections.