M. Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, M. Jean-Michel Blanquer, Minister of National Education, Youth and Sport, and M. Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, Minister of State for French Nationals Abroad, Tourism and Francophonie, attached to the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, convened a meeting by video conference today, Friday 29 January 2021, of the Interministerial Steering Committee for French Education Abroad.
Provided for in the development plan of AEFE [Agency for French Education Abroad] adopted in October 2019 and chaired by the ministers, the steering committee’s aim is to strengthen the strategic management of French education abroad, alongside all stakeholders in the French education network abroad: administrations, educational cooperation operators, trade union organizations, parents’ associations, parliamentarians, representatives of higher education, the private sector etc.
This first meeting provided an opportunity to review the situation of the network’s 540 institutions, catering for 370,000 pupils, nearly a year on from the onset of the health crisis, and review the implementation of the plan for exceptional State-provided support. It also presented key areas for the development of French education abroad, with the President having set the goal of doubling the number of pupils in schools by 2030.
The Committee’s work focused on the implementation of educational continuity thanks to the mobilization of digital tools, particularly the CNED’s “Ma Classe à la maison” [“My class at home”].
The challenges of training teaching staff, property investment capabilities and human resources management were also discussed. By strengthening the coordination of human resources management across the whole network, the two ministries recalled the key role of AEFE in developing a comprehensive, strategic approach to the needs of staff, including staff on secondment from the national education system, of whom there are currently nearly 8,500 in the network. The ministers reiterated the importance of creating regional training institutes (IRFs) abroad.
Vocations must also be developed in France itself. The creation of a certificate of aptitude in teaching French abroad for those holding a master’s degree in teaching, education and training (MEEF) should enable a pool of future teachers abroad to be created. There are already around 100, following a trial period begun in eight academies. It will also be possible for teaching interns to be incorporated into the network, especially in Europe.
Finally, AEFE, the State operator responsible for developing the network, will soon join the E-INSPE consortium, an online training platform, to develop an offer of specific content and careers abroad and enable teachers in France to benefit from innovations developed in the network. An interministerial seminar will be organized in 2021 to discuss this issue of training with all the partners.
Regarding educational issues, the discussions focused on implementing the reform of the baccalaureate and its internationalization, as well as on the teaching of Arabic in schools, which concerns more than 150,000 pupils in the network.
The network of French educational institutions abroad caters for nearly 370,000 pupils, 67% of them foreign pupils, with 540 institutions in 138 countries.
The network, which is unique in terms of its breadth and unity, guaranteed by the certification granted and verified by the Ministry of National Education, Youth and Sport, and run by AEFE, provides a fundamental service for French people abroad and is a key player in France’s external action.