France’s biggest teaching union, the SNES-FSU, said that several examiners were asked by the inspectors for history and geography to be on the look out for any alarming statements when marking this year’s history baccalauréat exam.
The subjects included in the exam were the history of the Middle East, World War Two and the war in Algeria, all potentially inflammatory topics.
“BAC2016 advice to markers: flag up any words that are racist, anti-Semitic or jihadist that you find in the exam paper,” said the union in a tweet that was picked up by Le Monde newspaper.
The instruction did not please the trade union.
“Teachers are responsible and competent civil servants who do not need to be asked to act as informers to do their job,” the union said.
One teacher quoted in Le Monde said the instruction was given in order to help identify young French youths who may be on their way to being radicalised.
“He advised to bring the problematic papers to the next meeting,” the teacher told Le Monde, before complaining that it wasn’t up to teachers to add to the list of potentially dangerous individuals (fiche S).
For its part the ministry of education says it was not a formal instruction to examiners and the inspectors had perhaps been “over zealous in their advice”.