The Agency for French Education Abroad (AEFE), an agency of the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, is holding the first edition of French Schools Abroad Week from November 12 to 19.
The writer Leïla Slimani, a former student of the Lycée Descartes in Rabat, Morocco, and winner of the 2016 Goncourt Prize, is the event’s sponsor. Leïla Slimani has just been appointed by President Macron as his personal representative for Francophone affairs.
During this event, almost 150 schools in 80 countries are hosting more than 460 events (open days, social events, sports events, cultural, community and educational projects) to bring together school communities on all continents and to promote the educational model for French schools abroad to new audiences.
During the conferences organized in Paris and in schools in Barcelona and Moscow, the Agency for French Education Abroad will showcase key themes each day to promote, in the context of a very competitive educational market, the strengths of French education – notably the teaching of science, sports, philosophy, the culture of engagement and citizenship education, as well pre-school education and efforts to accommodate students with disabilities.
The AEFE network is made up of elementary, middle and high schools accredited by the Ministry of National Education. The network covers 137 countries with 492 schools and almost 350,000 students, as of the start of the 2017 school year, from pre-school to 12th grade; 60% of students are foreign. Accreditation ensures compliance with the French school system and its programs. It also ensures continuity of education, regardless of the host country. This principle of educational continuity allows students of French schools abroad to continue to receive high-quality schooling that can start in one country and continue in another, depending on their family’s mobility. The network therefore allows foreign students to adopt French culture and language while remaining connected to their own country’s language and culture, and French students to take full advantage of their presence in a foreign environment.
By promoting the French educational model abroad, French schools abroad serve as a key French soft power tool. The priority given to French education abroad was also reaffirmed by President Macron who announced to the Assembly of French Citizens Abroad on October 2 that AEFE funding would be maintained in 2018 and 2019. Jean-Yves Le Drian reaffirmed on November 7 to the National Assembly, that the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs would pay close attention to ensuring that all students in the AEFE network continue to benefit from quality education.