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EDUCATION

French students set to take to streets over planned school reforms

French students and teachers are getting ready to take to the streets on Thursday in protest against the government's planned school reforms, including changes to the final high school exams and university admissions.

French students set to take to streets over planned school reforms
File photo: AFP
Demonstrations, rallies and strikes are planned across the country as students and teachers take a stand against French President Emmanuel Macron's proposed changes to France's education system. 
 
The action has been prompted by this week's presentation of the government's proposed reforms to the baccalaureate — the final high school exams taken by students before they go to university, with critics saying that students will be forced to make career choices at too young an age. 
 
Students are also protesting the proposed changes to university access in France, a bill which is currently before parliament. 
 
High schools in Paris, Marseille, Lille and Lyon are set to take part in the “day of action”, according to student unions, as are students at Jean Jaurès university in Toulouse, Rennes II in Brittany and Jussieu in Paris. 
 
Demonstrators are set to meet in Paris in front of Jussieu university at 2pm before walking to the Sorbonne, with other events organised in Bordeaux, Lille, Lyon and Strasbourg.
 
And there could be more in other major cities, according to the SNES-FSU union's Secretary General Hervé Christofol.
 
READ ALSO: 

France to overhaul the baccalaureate in tricky school reformPhoto: AFP

The overhaul of the baccalaureate was an election campaign promise of President Emmanuel Macron, with the French leader believing the current system fails to adequately prepare teenagers for university and the modern job market.
 
Several staff unions including the FSU, CGT, FO, SUD Education, as well as student unions including UNEF, Solidaires, SGL and UNL have come out against the changes.
 
In addition to forcing students into an important decision too early, those against the move say the ideal of scholastic equality is at risk, since wealthier students will probably be better prepared to navigate the choices now open to them than those in poorer areas. Increased tutoring is supposed to limit that risk, but many educators aren't convinced.
 
Meanwhile, the bill on access to university is currently before parliament. If it goes ahead it will remove the admissions system for universities and tighten entrance criteria. 
 
But why does the government want to change the system?
 
Once in university, roughly 60 percent of students fail to secure their diplomas marking the first three years of study in France.
 
The proposed reform presented this week, which would halve the number of Bac tests to just five including a new 30 minute oral exam, aims to orientate students toward specific degrees sooner. The three broad subject choices — science, literature or social sciences — would also be eliminated.
 
French university admissions: Shake-up broaches selection taboo
Photo: AFP
 
Before their final year students would choose two specific “major” subjects as well as two “minors” alongside the standard curriculum — a system that will sound familiar to American college graduates. And instead of being based purely on results in the final exams, the new Bac grade would incorporate marks and test results obtained throughout the two final years of school.
 
Even class schedules will change by 2021 if the reforms are passed, with the year now divided into two semesters instead of three trimesters, and the tests spread over several months instead of a single week.
 
However, despite the “day of action” not everyone is against the changes. 
 
The SNPDEN union, the largest for high school directors, called the proposals “a good basis for changing the baccalaureate for the better”.

LIVING IN FRANCE

French schools, renting property and vocabulary: 6 essential articles for life in France

From how to quit your job in France to choosing the best French school for your kids and learning all the vocabulary of France's cost of living crisis - here are six essential articles for life in France.

French schools, renting property and vocabulary: 6 essential articles for life in France

In the last two years, many people across the world have either considered leaving or have left their jobs amid the “Great Resignation” (or La Grande démission, en Français). 

If you have thought about quitting your French job, or perhaps you simply want to understand the procedure for resigning in France, we’ve put together a guide that should answer all of your questions. 

EXPLAINED: What you should know if you want to quit your job in France

Next, the French government is recommending that everyone become familiar with this website, and you’ll really to know how to use it if you will be living in France during the winter of 2022-2023. 

Ecowatt is the government’s ‘energy forecasting’ website. It will provide you with daily updates and give you an idea as to whether the electrical grid is under stress due to energy shortages. The Local put together an article on how to sign up for alerts, which will help you keep track of whether your area is at risk for short, localised power cuts this winter.

‘Ecowatt’: How you should use France’s new energy forecasting website?

Amid potential energy shortages this winter and the cost of living crisis, foreigners living with France have been faced with learning a whole new set of French vocabulary words.

It can be difficult to keep up to date with the French news – even for native-French speakers. To help you follow along and stay informed, The Local has compiled a list of French terms you are likely to hear when the government or media discusses inflation, along with their English translations.

The French words you need to understand France’s cost of living crisis

Parenting in a country you did grow up in comes with unique challenges and joys. One thing anglophone parents tend to wonder about is whether or not they should send their children to international schools (where English might be more widely spoken) or opt for local French schools.

The Local spoke with some anglophone parents, and compared the advantages and disadvantages of the various options in order to help you make the best decision for your family. 

What kind of school in France is best for my kids?

Many foreigners living in France prefer renting to buying. When looking for that perfect home or apartment, there are a few things to consider. First and foremost – renting in France depends largely on where you live. Renting in a rural or suburban environment will differ greatly from renting in a big city. Nevertheless – renters across France are faced with the same question: furnished or unfurnished? 

The two options differ in terms of price, convenience, and sometimes availability. You can read The Local’s guide to renting property in France.

Renting property in France: Should I go for furnished or unfurnished?

The 2024 Olympic Games are already on the horizon, even though they might seem far away. The city of Paris and its surrounding suburbs have already begun extensive preparations to host athletes, their families, and the thousands of fans who will come to enjoy the Games.

If you live in France and you are considering attending the games, The Local has put together what you need to know in order to secure your tickets.

How to get tickets for the Paris 2024 Olympics and Paralympics

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