France

How French school system increases social inequality

A damning report commissioned by an independent evaluation body has found that schools in France exacerbate rather than reduce inequalities in society. The report, compiled from the work of more than 30 experts from different disciplines, says that the French education system has been failing many pupils for decades. In particular it singles out the failure of what are called education priority areas, a policy pursued by politicians of both the Left and Right. These special zones have been stigmatised and turned into educational ghettoes, says the report, shunned by better-off families and used mostly by children from disadvantaged backgrounds. Faïza Zerouala reports.

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The French school system is increasing the inequalities which it itself created, according to a damning study commissioned by an independent evaluation body set up by the current government. The report, based on the research of nearly 40 experts including researchers, sociologists, educational experts and economists from France and abroad, is entitled: “How does the school accentuate social and immigration inequalities?”. Overseen by the Conseil National d’Évaluation du Système Scolaire (CNESCO), which was established in 2013, it delivers a tough verdict on 30 years of educational reforms that were intended to reduce inequalities in French schools. In fact, as the authors point out, between 2000 and 2012 those inequalities increased.

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