To Double the Number of Students in International French Schools, Macron Must Double the Teachers

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France is going to need more teachers to populate the network of AEFE (Agency for French Education Abroad) schools in the coming ten years. This was one of the messages brought forth by Christophe Bouchard, the agency’s director who manages the web of 496 French establishments in 137 countries, teaching 355,000 students.

Appearing at the colloquium on the multilingualism in Paris organized by Roland Lescure, the deputy of French in North America, on Saturday, October 6th, the administrator underlined that the lack of teachers was one of the challenges that the agency needed to resolve before completing the objective of French president Emmanuel Macron to double the number of students in this network by 2030. “As we wish to double the number of students, it is necessary to double the number of teachers,” indicated Bouchard, explaining that the majority of the new teaching recruits would be “local, uncertified [in France].” “We can’t have two times as many teachers teachers with France’s national education qualifications … Teachers who know French abroad will be more than welcome to help schools develop.”

Macron’s objective to double the number of students is seen as unrealistic by his critics considering the budgetary constraints that weigh on the agency. The 2019 Finance Bill (PLF) will reduce the amount of academic scholarships given to French students in the network who meet the criteria.

Director Bouchard hides none of the challenges that stem from the president’s objective. Beyond the key issue of the lack of teachers, made even more difficult by the shortage of vocation in France, the agency’s director indicated that the Macron’s objective will be completed by relying on foreign students more than young French expatriates.

Currently, foreign students [i.e., students who are not French] represent 60% of the entire school population. “In the past, we relied on the growth of the French community and a Francophile and Francophone public. Today’s development comes from foreign populations. We want to make them want to attend our institutions,” commented Bouchard. “We want to convince them that we have created a French school to allow students to get into the best universities in the world.”

Another device for growth: the development of existing establishments and the creation of new schools, which the director wants to “support,” particularly in the “small towns where French courses are not offered.” He also noted that the accreditation process of candidate schools, through which the program of that school is recognized as aligning with the national education program, will be “relaxed.”

“We can be flexible on certain procedures because they remain a bit heavy and then we can accelerate things when the schools can hold water. But ratification is not just given away for free. Our objective is to double the number of students. There will be establishments that grow, projects that begin each year. But we will not change the quality of the system.”

“We can be flexible on certain procedures because they remain a little cumbersome, and then we can speed things up when the institution holds its course. But we’re not going to give accreditation to just anyone,” Bouchard noted. “Our objective is to double the number of students. There will be institutions that will grow, projects that are launched every year, but we are not going to change the quality of the system.”