Against the tide, the Breton sociologist Tristan Poullaouec calls for a single bac “to reduce inequalities” – Bac

Against the tide, the Breton sociologist Tristan Poullaouec calls for a single bac “to reduce inequalities” – Bac

Against the tide, the Breton sociologist Tristan Poullaouec calls for a single bac “to reduce inequalities” – Bac



In “The future university”

there is a growing gap between students arriving at university and between what they should know and what they really master.

Yes, there is a misleading effect on what their previous journey brought them. The Pisa (International Program for Student Assessment) surveys reveal that in 2017 only 37% of CM2 children passed a division, compared to 74% thirty years earlier. They also accumulated deficiencies in dictation, which did not prevent 80% of an age group from reaching the maturity level, a goal set by the Jospin government in 1985. There have never been so many baccalaureate mentions, nor have are enrollments in higher education (+ 45,000 students in 2021). But the observation made by the majority of university professors is that of very heterogeneous levels. Consequently, a significant license failure rate and many courses interrupted before graduation.

Wasn’t leading an entire generation to graduate school a good idea?

Yes, France needs young graduates. But we cannot aim for this without giving ourselves the means to make their knowledge more common. We defend the idea of ​​a single baccalaureate that would be literary, scientific and technological at the same time. So that 100% of students have the same knowledge base, earn the same baccalaureate, share the same culture and ultimately make real choices for higher education, not predefined choices. This more democratic system requires that school results have improved, from elementary school, and that by the end of CM2 all children have learned the written expression and the four operations.

Your joint baccalaureate proposal is contrary to what has been done so far with the three paths – general, technological, professional – and, within the general baccalaureate itself, the choice of specialties. If your solution is correct, why hasn’t it been implemented?

Because in France the much-criticized school system creates frustrations and the culture of classification and elitism suits many people. In Germany, when the first Pisa investigations revealed shortcomings among 15-year-olds, there was a “Pisa shock” and important reforms were initiated. With us he gives ministers who say “yes, that’s right, our students aren’t the best but, if we look at those who go to high school and haven’t repeated a year, they’re doing pretty well. So it’s not that bad.” There is a kind of tolerance for inequality in our country.

You talk about inequalities, but not being able to choose between three courses allows each high school student to take the course that seems most congenial to him?

Yes and no. Currently, we have a common culture and controlled knowledge base at the end of college. Then there is a division, even a segregation that occurs on the basis of school results. For those who perform less in general subjects, we will offer even less general education. The “transformation” of the professional high school, as announced by the Head of State, still goes in this direction. However, as more and more professional graduates continue their studies in BTS, only one in two graduates in two years, a failure that is very little talked about.

So the school, far from building the equal opportunities desired by Emmanuel Macron, widens social inequalities, you say. You also speak of a “French class”. Isn’t that a little violent?

The word “class” has a political charge but it is clear that in high school, in general, one in three students is of working class origin. In the technological path it is half and in the professional path it is two thirds. Our school system means that there is little social mixing between these three paths and everyone knows it.

How do you want to lead 50% of a graduate class when the college student budget has been falling for fifteen years?

Back to college. How has the health crisis revealed its weaknesses?

The system held up quite well, we managed to organize the exams despite the degraded distance learning conditions. The transition to the second year of license has never been easier, but it came at the cost of abandoning the learning and prerequisites. We had no choice. Because there, too, there were unequal treatment. Faced with a trompe-l’oeil autonomy with appropriations always revised downwards – 12,000 euros of public spending per year and per student in BTS, three or four times less in college -, the universities, which have less class hours had to close their doors when the preparatory classes for the Grandes Ecoles obtain exemptions.

Parcoursup runs a selection that doesn’t say its name, you say, and Pécresse’s plan to fight the license failure doesn’t work. A rather pessimistic conclusion. How do you see “The Coming University”?

How do you want to be leading 50% of a licensed-level age class when the budget per student, in college, has been falling (-12%) for fifteen years? We will not advance in the democratization of the school without investing heavily in the first cycle of university. I fear for a university future that is increasingly segmented between professional licenses, selective and non-selective licenses, preparation courses for school chairs, and so on. A penniless parent of the first cycle, the general license will end up welcoming only those who no longer have the resources to integrate better equipped devices. This development has been going on for years and I don’t want this university.

* “The coming University, a new school selection system”, by Cédric Hugrée and Tristan Poullaouec, published by Raisons d’agir. 184 pages, 10 euros.

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