Sunday, April 12, 2015

The middle class pétition contre la réforme du collège

I don't know who started this petition, but here goes. 

First, a word of explaination that collège in france is not university but middle-school. In France, middle school concerns classes 6, 5, 4 and 3. This is equivalent to Indian classes 6, 7, 8 and 9. 

After many years of living in Dijon, we finally found some bilingual classes so that our kids could be internationally communicative and more globally at home. Guess what? The "réforme de collèg"e wants to clone all our kids into a standardized mould, and to stop these bilingual classes. 

I think this kind of standardization can be done by the private sector. (In France, the private sector in education is often just public curricula outsourced). But to provide the kind of excellence in diversed education that we need to be globally competitive, we need the State to pool in public resources to offer the diversified offerings in many differerent regions: at least one per department. This would provide some amount of economies of scale, which private education cannot provide. 

Of course, there may be a role for truly private education and for NGOs to fill in this void. But the cost for most people would be huge. I think the reform therefore is quite elitist and caste-ish. Rich people who can afford the kind of private education to make their kids bilingual get a big edge over the middle classes who are being forced to join the ranks of those whose kids are being limited to one language. 

But this kind of protection for the existing rich does not mean that their kids will actually be competitive. Far from it: with the forces of globalization, they will actually suffer from the lack of local competition which the middle class could have provided them. Instead of levelling down education for the bright, perhaps France should have thought of increasing the level for all. 

Anyway, I invite you all to join this petition so that our last kid also manages to get some notions of English early in life.

Arvind Ashta

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