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Teaching and education
Our measures for the 7th district outside of France
The French education network abroad gathers 552 schools in 138 countries which represents nearly 380,000 students (60% of them are of other nationalities). Since 2017, 500 jobs have been cut in French schools abroad. Twice as numerous, younger and more precarious than 20 years ago, the French people living abroad have been hit head-on by liberal policies in the education field.
As one of the focuses of the AEFE is to promote French culture throughout the world, the number of foreign students in network's institutions has increased for past few years. AEFE's stated objective is to double the number of students by 2030, however the number of French students abroad is not increasing in that proportion. Tuition fees have continued to increase at the same rate as these ambitions: reaching up to 38,000 euros for private schools (e.g. New York). In some regions, they represent the only French education option, the continuity of which is necessary for many French families living abroad.
The mission of the Agency for French Education Abroad (AEFE) is to harmonize French education practices abroad. The Agency coordinates the French education network abroad, ensures mutualization of resources and manages the use of human and financial assistance provided by the State for the operation of French educational institutions abroad.
The AEFE recruits, remunerates and supports the permanent staff of the French Ministry of Education. The Agency assigns the staff either to the schools that it directly manages (68), or to one’s to which it associated through an agreement (163). It does not assign staff to partner institutions (321) but includes these institutions in the network's operations.
There are three types of institutions:
- 68 schools directly managed by the AEFE (EGD) whose budget is aggregated each year with that of the AEFE
- 163 schools with a non-profit agreement
- 321 approved private partner schools.
These schools are both financed by grants and through their own fundings (school fees). The importance of self-financing has increased in the past few years making the share of state’s funding drop from 60% in the early 2000s to currently 40%.
The emergence of local contracts led to great disparity in wages for the same work. It is also accountable for inequalities between countries as wages depend upon the local standard of living and on collective agreements of the teaching staff. Even if this type of contract has been prohibited in some countries, inequalities persist in many cases.
The development of partnerships with private institutions is supporting private education as the only republican education option for French people living abroad.
The staff of these schools have access to continuing education formation programs set up by the AEFE. Like other types of institutions, private partner schools are certified and follow French education’s programs. However, in the absence of a pedagogical, administrative and financial agreement with the AEFE, the monitoring of the different levels inside the school is not up to standard.
What we suggest:
- Increasing the budget for scholarships and ensuring an ambitious communication towards the French community in order to have a transparency on the rates, and a revision of the attribution criteria taking into account middle class families and single parent families.
- Facilitating the obtention of scholarships through online procedures, with a secure storage of files from one year to the next and sharing of (secure) information to the Presidents of the Consular Councils prior to award decisions.
- Moving towards universal free education and greater social diversity in French education abroad, in accordance with the constitutional objectives of free and secular education.
- For teachers and school staff, we will ensure the harmonization of salaries and social benefits between employees under French law and those under local contracts.
- Working towards salaries’ and social benefits' harmonization between employees under French law and those under local contracts in all the schools of AEFE’s network.
- Implementing international collective agreements and a social charter respecting the rights of workers to obtain the AEFE label, in particular their right to be represented in the authorities.
- Deploying new schools in locations where they are missing.
- Withdraw from agreements and suspend the subsidies of the Agency for French Education Abroad (AEFE) for schools that refuse the status of non-profit schools
- Guaranteeing to the National Center for Distance Learning (CNED) the means to fulfill its function as a public distance learning organization.
- Stop closing cultural centers and strengthen existing structures for the dissemination of French, French institutes, Alliances françaises and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Francophonie (APF) as well as ensuring support to FLAM associations. This support must include a revision of the subsidy criteria to reduce the proportion of volunteers and improve access to premises for FLAM associations.
- Promoting the pooling of administrative and management needs of nearby FLAM schools to support their preservation and develop them.
- Put an end to the never-ending increase of school fees caused by the disengagement of the state.
- Finding support with diplomats and their local partners to encourage the creation of bilingual sections in kindergarten and primary schools.
- Giving the AEFE the means to accomplish its mission as a public operator and restore its borrowing capacity.
- Increasing human resources inside the AEFE network so that the organization can ensure its mission of pedagogical supervision and financial and administrative management in order to avoid crises linked to poor management or ignorance of local taxation, which resulted in the increase of school fees to be paid by families.
- Remove the 6-year limit on the secondment of resident teachers, which represents an obstacle to mobility.
- Supporting the France-Education Label for bilingual classes in local network schools but modify it by investing more resources into it.
- The creation of the new Regional Training Institutes should be followed up so that this network ensures quality training for local staff without becoming an alibi for stopping the secondment of national education staff.