REPORT: Shutting Down the Education in France

By Maeva Chargros

On February 5, 2019, a small secondary school hosting around 250 students was shut down for 24 hours. This was exceptional for multiple reasons: rarely do all teachers of a school in France choose to strike, and rarely do they receive a massive and unanimous support from the parents of the students, as well as from the local authorities. On this cold winter day, though, the junior high school Papire Masson was empty and teachers, parents and the mayor of the little town of St-Germain-Laval, Alain Berouda, gathered in front of its doors.[1] Known only by the few hundreds of people who actually need it, this secondary school recently learned that despite welcoming three more students and being part of the “inclusive education” framework, it would receive 58 hours less than the previous years from September 2019 onward. This very local situation has, unfortunately, repercussions at both national and European levels, besides directly impacting the lives of about 250 students between 11 and 15 years old.

The decision of allocating less hours to a high school that has among the best results of the Loire department at the national exam called “Brevet des écoles” (equivalent of GCSEs in the British system) can seem slightly puzzling at first sight. It becomes absolutely incomprehensible when realising that this secondary school has already the lowest number of hours allocated among schools with similar numbers of students in the department. The regional education authority of the Lyon (Académie de Lyon) area probably just made a regrettable mistake that will be rectified after the planned meeting between the regional school inspector, Mr Batailler, and representatives of the Papire Masson secondary school on February 19, 2019. At least, this is what teachers, parents and students altogether are hoping for, given what such a disastrous change would entail: a total of five teachers would not come back to teach in September 2019; two classes of 4th and 3rd grades (UK equivalent: Years 9 and 10) would disappear, leading to an increase of 50% of the number of students per class; projects involving students of all levels would have to be terminated; teachers would have to travel from one school to another across the entire department or even regional area. These are just a few examples of substantial consequences that can be explained in tangible ways. Less easy to observe is the impact on the quality of teaching, the ability of teachers to properly include and involve in their lessons students with disabilities coming from a nearby specialised institution, the difficulties to maintain this school’s overall excellent results at the national exam and to ensure all students get equal chances in their orientation choices. The latter is a chronic feature of the education management system in France; it recently sparked the interest of a high school student, Marie Ferté, who competed at the Concours de Plaidoiries in Caen (Normandy, France). Continue reading “REPORT: Shutting Down the Education in France”

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The Future of Creative Europe

Towards a new generation of cultural funding

by Marje Brütt

The cultural and creative sector is the third biggest employer in the European Union being only excelled by the construction and the food sectors.[1] Besides their rather underestimated economic importance, culture and creativity build bridges between people and positively influence various areas, e.g. education, well-being or democracy. Consequently, culture contributes to the objectives of the European integration. Therefore, it is necessary to foster our cultural and political identity, to preserve our diversity and increase the intercultural dialogue as it is mentioned in Article 167 of the Treaty of Lisbon.[2]

In order to give credit to the cultural sector and to support its further development, the European Union launched Creative Europe in 2014 as the EU’s funding programme for the cultural, creative and audiovisual sectors.[3] As such it is in place for seven years (2014-2020) and consists of two sub-programmes that used to exist independently before: MEDIA and CULTURE. While MEDIA[4] is dedicated to the audiovisual sector and helps promoting audiovisual works, CULTURE covers funding for all other cultural and creative areas including amongst others performing and visual arts, literature, music, street art and cultural heritage. In total, 1,46 billion Euros are foreseen for the whole programme meaning for the whole seven years and all participating countries.[5] Related to the amount of participating countries, this amount can change throughout the years. In addition to the 28 EU Member States, interested European countries can associate with Creative Europe and thereby increase the programme’s budget. In the past years, the list of participating countries grew continuously up to 41 countries in 2018, including amongst others Tunisia, Georgia, Ukraine, Albania and Armenia, boosting the intercultural exchange in the European neighbourhood.[6] Simultaneously, countries can also leave the group as it was the case with Turkey in autumn 2016 and could be happening again with the upcoming Brexit in 2019. Continue reading “The Future of Creative Europe”

The Stray

Syed Rashid Munir │srmunir@gmail.com

Memory is a fickle thing. One second you think you can recall, and the next you’re absolutely dazed and confused.

But, this one I remember.

It’s from a long, long time ago.

We used to live in the capital in those days.

The street we lived on was on elevated ground. And just beyond the other side of the street, there was a slope that led downwards to an outgrowth of sorts.

One hot summer day, after lunch, I must’ve sneaked out of the house (I say so because I don’t actually remember sneaking out, but can only recall returning back home, leading to the very reasonable possibility that I must’ve, indeed, sneaked out in the first place). And by sneaking out, I mean just stepping out of the gate and walking across to the other side of the road. It was a big deal for a two-year old: just me, on my own, ready to face the world.

My first taste of freedom. I was hypnotized by it, just floating around in its mesmerizing haze. Life, in that instant, was good.

Once on the other side, standing on the edge of that slope, about 20 feet away, I saw a stray dog lurking down below. Like almost everything at that age, it was fascinating; every new sight, every new smell, and every new feeling had to be explored. Now, on any other day, I would’ve just stood there and lurked around a bit myself, but this was no ordinary day. I was feeling invincible.

So, I picked up a stone, and threw it at the stray. It landed inches from its feet.

Nothing. The dog didn’t even budge. Continue reading “The Stray”

Creative Europe: Exporting Culture at the EU Level

Exporting creative industries is important in boosting a European city, but the EU is still ignorant of such potential asset. The ‘creativity’ sector includes architecture, audiovisual products, cultural heritage related services, design, music, performing arts, publishing and visual arts.

© Yu Xichao
© Yu Xichao

María de las Cuevas Linares│mariadelascuevas@hotmail.com

Do we have to see the world only through the eyes of ‘McDonald-isation’ or ‘Nike-isation’, or may Europe contribute to it with its own culture? Exporting the European lifestyle and cultural products could have an economic impact in terms of employment and GDP growth, and it would be a way to show the world that the EU is full of ideas and creativity.

Who says that the EU is not creative? In fact, the EU is a key player in the global exports of creative goods with nine member states in the list of the world’s top 20 exporters in 2008, headed by Asia and the USA. Although our rivals are much more confident, Europe is still faring well: Germany is in third place, followed by Italy, the United Kingdom, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, Spain and Poland. Nevertheless, it should be noted that the EU has been losing its reputation in ‘creativity’ since 2002. In 2008, Germany was the top developed-economy exporter of both Performing Arts and Publishing & Printed Media; Italy was the top exporter of Design, while the UK, France and Germany featured in the top five exporters of Visual Arts. Creative-goods exports from the EU in 2010 represented 36% of the total value of creative-goods exports worldwide.

Exporting creative industries is important in boosting a European city, but the EU is still ignorant of such potential asset. The ‘creativity’ sector includes architecture, audiovisual products (film, radio, television, video games and multimedia), cultural heritage related services, design, music, performing arts, publishing and visual arts. The frontiers between culture, business and technology are even more blurred. Nevertheless, they are still underestimated in relation to their positive effects on growth of the economy of a country, a region or a city.

A 2012 report by the European Expert Network on Culture (EENC) pointed out that “Europe – like other parts of the world – is becoming a society of the intangible, whose main raw material lies in the ability of its people to create and to innovate. There is a need for a new approach to the sector’s distinctive features, recognizing the creative industries as traded industries”. The Eurostat Cultural Statistics report in 2011 shows that in 2009 the EU-27 exported more cultural goods to the rest of the world than it imported, recording a trade surplus of around €1.9 billion. The main products exported were books, works of art, antiques, newspapers and DVDs.

The Eurozone is more than ever linked to creative industries, culture and innovative mind. Currently, there’s a shift from manufacturing sectors to innovate solutions, while the cultural sector is being recognised as “a driver of growth fundamental to overcome the financial crisis” by the European Commission. The Commission considers that the cultural sectors are “sectors of the future and a sound investment for our well-being”.

The eruption of the world financial and economic crisis in 2008 provoked a 12% decrease in international trade. However, the world exports of creative goods and services continued to grow, reaching $592 billion, more than double its 2002 level, indicating an annual growth rate of 14% over six consecutive years.

Rethinking of ideas, artists, originality and innovative solutions are all features in the creation of new societies. The EU in the 21st century, as set out by the ‘European 2020 Strategy’, should be governed by smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. This Strategy provides the targets – fixed by the Commission – to be met in 2020.

© Yu Xichao
© Yu Xichao

María de las Cuevas, Junior EditorMaria profile

María is a Spanish journalist. Her home University is University of Deusto and host university, University of Strasbourg. Her plan after finishing MA Euroculture is to work in the cultural field to promote the access of new audiences into social inclusion and to enhance the power of creativity in the society. She is enjoying the city of Strasbourg and is very exited about the forthcoming research track at the University of Mexico. She loves writing and reading, meeting new people and going around with her bike.