Emmanuel Macron Wants to Reform French Education Abroad

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Credit: France Diplomatie

On Monday, August 27, at the annual Conference of Ambassadors in Paris, French president Emmanuel Macron communicated that in there will be an announcement this fall about reforming French education outside of France.

The reform plans will be based on a report by the prime minister’s office, commissioned at the end of July. The intention is to make it possible to double the number of students enrolled in the French education network abroad by 2030, a desire expressed by Macron on the Journée de la Francophonie on March 20 of this year.

The agency that runs France’s education abroad is Agence pour l’enseignement français à l’étranger (AEFE). Created in 1990, AEFE is a public institution run by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs with the goals of providing a quality education to French children abroad and to disseminate the French language internationally. The school network includes 497 schools serving nearly 350,000 students from kindergarten through high school in 137 countries.

Many of the elite French schools across the country, like any “Lycée français” or “École internationale” or “École franco-américaine,” are a part of the AEFE network and could be affected by the changes.

There are 47 AEFE schools located across the United States. Of their relationships with AEFE, two are “conventionné” (by agreement) and the other 45 are “partenariat” (partner). “Conventionné” schools are managed privately but have signed an “administrative, financial and educational agreement with the AEFE.” The agreement dictates conditions of staffing assignments and salary of French Ministry of Education employees present at the school and the awarding of grants. “Partenariat” instutions are also managed privately and have a signed contact with AEFE. The agreement defines the financial relationship with AEFE and the services that AEFE provides, like continuing training for staff, curriculum planning, and management advice.

The expected changes to expand the network of schools and bring in more students are not optimally timed for AEFE, which is currently coping with budget cuts.