It is a note by the statistical offices of the Ministry of National Education, published in mid-summer, however, that continues to fuel debate in educational circles because the numbers are so telling. If private contract education has welcomed about one in five students in France for several decades, interpersonality has been strengthened there more than in the public sector, this study shows, while Minister Pape Ndiaye has made social diversity one of his priorities. At the start of the 2021 academic year, 40% of students enrolled at a private charter college come from very privileged social backgrounds, compared to just 20% at a public one.
Conversely, 18% of students in the private contract sector belonged to disadvantaged social classes, compared to 42% of students in the public sector. Passages that are only increasing, while segregation among public colleges has been on a slightly downward trend since 2018. In 1989, the proportion of students from very privileged social backgrounds was already 11 percentage points higher in primary school, sixth in private colleges compared to state colleges. Today, it climbs to more than 20 points, with an acceleration since 2010. It is true that the college concentrates the problems of social diversity. In elementary school, families choose proximity.
In the high school, the orientation between general, technological and vocational streams causes social sorting, with disadvantaged classes being more represented in the latter two streams. Beyond the national figures, everything is played out at the local level, both the place of residence and the social environment are connected. Historically, private colleges and high schools have been established more in urban centers, voluntarily more bourgeois. Today, if one-tenth of private colleges enroll less than 6% of disadvantaged students, one-tenth admit at least 39%, the study by the Department of National Education noted.
In fact, the differences in social composition between private and public society reach their climax in Ile-de-France, in the southern Mediterranean and overseas departments and regions. The case of Paris is an example in this regard. In the capital, 37% of students are in private contract education, which has 3% disadvantaged students in its workforce, according to estimates by education economist Julien Grene. According to a study conducted by him in 2017, “social segregation” in the capital’s colleges, half is due to the typology of the area of residence itself, and for the other half of the share of students enrolled in private education, a small part (5%) relates to non-sector state college enrollments.
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