Everything is played between zero and six years. Many of the social and economic inequalities, many problems of integration and discrimination, are born in this age. Who has not consolidated the bases of language, who has not begun to socialize then, may end up paying later.
From this base, the French president, Emmanuel Macron, and his star minister, the head of Education, Jean-Michel Blanquer, They have multiplied the measures to reinforce primary and preschool education. The last one is the law that reduces the start of compulsory education from six to three years. Compulsory education ends at 16 years. The term instruction is officially used because students can be educated outside of school institutions, for example.
COMPULSORY EDUCATION IN EUROPE
On Wednesday night, a semi-national National Assembly passed the 'law for the school of trust' with 95 votes in favor and 11 against. They voted for deputies of the presidential majority and several parties of the left, and against the party of the traditional right, the Republicans. The law, routinely adopted as almost all proposed by Macron, will enter into force the next start of the course, in September 2019.
"It is necessary to leave to the families the possibility of deciding", the deputy of the Republicans Patrick Hetzel said in the hemicycle. "You," he added, addressing Blanquer, "indicates that we would be the first country in the world to start compulsory schooling after three years and that other countries will follow our example. But the comparative table on compulsory schooling shows that Estonia or Finland, third and fifth in the PISA classification, set the age of schooling in seven years, which shows that early schooling is not necessarily the guarantee of school success " .
The extension of compulsory education age it is, first of all, symbolic. 98.9% of children between three and five years old are already enrolled in the so-called nursery schools. By lowering the entrance to compulsory education after three years, 26,000 children who do not attend school now or follow an instruction at home must do so, under threat of punishment.
The percentage of absentees is anecdotal: preschool education is almost universal. But in a country like France, where the republican school is considered a social leveler and a factory of citizens, the symbol is powerful. The last time the compulsory education age varied was in 1959, when under the presidency of General de Gaulle increased the end of schooling from 14 to 16 years. In 1936, with the Popular Front Government, this age had passed from 13 to 14. In 1882 Jules Ferry, founder of the republican school, had created compulsory education from six to 13 years. Since then, the age of entry had not changed. Now the republican mantle extends.
The law is something more than a symbol. It will not be for the 26,000 children and their families who until now did not enter the system and will now be inside. Although the figure is small, the impact is unequal depending on the territory and social class. In the overseas departments of Guyana and Mayotte the school enrollment rate between three and five years is 82% and 84.9%, lower than the metropolitan average, according to the 'impact study' of the French Government on the law.
The document notes the "strong correlation between the attendance of a pre-elementary school and the performance of students". "The learning of a precise vocabulary and language structures is an important lever to reduce the first inequality, the one posed by the language. Indeed, after four years, a child from a disadvantaged social environment has heard 30 million words less than a child from a favored social environment, "the text reads.
The maternal school is the first space of socialization and, therefore, of citizenship that "allows the child to build his relationship with the mute and his place in a democratic society". The idea of lowering the entry into the school system after three years can help the integration of people of foreign origin. Of children and their parents.
That this stage is decisive, Blanquer, a technocrat with experience in the education sector, preaches it before becoming a minister. "The strong disparities of development, which appear and grow during early childhood, persist throughout the school journey and can mortgage the rest of life," the future minister wrote in 'L'école de demain' (The school of tomorrow ), a trial of 2016.
In the reform plan of Macron, education is capital. Macron believes that income inequalities are not so serious in France, a country with a very redistributive tax system, as what he calls "destination inequalities". These inequalities are those in which the origin of a person – the neighborhood, the city, the social class, the ethnic origin – define their destiny and, to use another expression to which the president resorts, condemn him to a "house arrest" "virtual.
This is where preschool education comes in and learning the rudiments of writing and reading, the moment in which, perhaps, this destiny already written can be broken.
"Read, write, tell and respect the other," Blanquer told EL PAÍS in April 2018. "We must be sure that, upon completion of primary school, all students possess these basic skills. And I put the accent on the language, because it is the key to the rest: the first inequality is the inequality before the language ".