Emmanuel Macron goes to Marseille on Thursday alongside the new Minister of Education Pap Ndiaye to promote “the school of the future”, an experiment contested by the teachers’ unions who demand above all a “roadmap” for the start of the school year.
The Head of State had launched this idea in September 2021 when he presented the “Marseille en grand” emergency plan intended to help the second city of France, where the poverty rate exceeds 50% in certain districts, to catch up.
This experiment, launched in 59 schools in Marseille, aims to give “more freedom and autonomy to teaching teams to build a fairer and more inclusive school system”, recalled the Elysée on the eve of the visit.
This is to allow these schools to finance an innovative project around culture, languages, the environment or science by giving school principals the opportunity to choose their teaching team.
Emmanuel Macron and Pap Ndiaye are expected in the morning in one of the 59 establishments selected, the Menpenti school, which will have a mathematics laboratory.
It aims to bring students into “an authentic activity of research and experimentation” by relying on “digital tools, manipulation and play”, according to an internal document that AFP was able to consult.
The Marseille experiment raises many questions, in particular the idea that school principals can choose their team, a profound change in the model of National Education.
“National Education is not a sum of + start-ups +”, asserts Stéphane Crochet, secretary general of SE-Unsa, who is worried that the new minister “finds himself with an extremely marked path” and that the experimentation is not generalized.
“This experiment seriously calls into question the national character of public schools, the status of teachers as state officials, the equal treatment of staff in their request for transfer”, adds the FO Federation of Education (FNEC FP–FO).
– “A display case” –
Others point to the risk of a “two-speed school”, with establishments better equipped than others and not necessarily located in disadvantaged neighborhoods.
The president and Pap Ndiaye, who is making his second field trip after a highly symbolic first visit to the college of assassinated professor Samuel Paty, are also expected on quite other subjects.
“This experiment is a showcase when the president should focus on the hot topics of National Education such as salaries, the thawing of the index point or the roadmap of the new minister who does not is still not expressed”, launched Guislaine David, general secretary of Snuipp-FSU, the first primary union.
Several major projects await the new minister, starting with the teacher recruitment crisis and the reintroduction of mathematics in the common core in high school.
The Head of State will also mark, with this visit, his support for Pap Ndiaye, a renowned historian of minorities and the target of a barrage from the far right, who describes him as a “racialist and anti-cop activist”, since his surprise appointment in the government of Elisabeth Borne.
While his predecessor Jean-Michel Blanquer regularly worried about “woke” phenomena or “Islamo-leftism”, Pap Ndiaye himself doubted on several occasions the validity of these concepts.
Positions which also arouse concern among certain personalities of the majority or close to the president, such as Jean-Pierre Chevènement who warned against “the burial of the policy implemented by Jean-Michel Blanquer for five years”.
Reputed to be a supporter of consensus, the personality of the new minister could however be an asset in promoting reconciliation with the teaching world, after months of confrontation with his predecessor.
Jean-Michel Blanquer, who has broken a longevity record in this position, has driven the reform of the baccalaureate and the splitting of CP and CE1 classes in priority education areas.
But his all-out reforms were deemed “too numerous” by the unions who also did not appreciate his lack of consultation.