Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Thirty Percent Boursiers

The president gave a major speech on affirmative action à la française today. He wants to see 30% of the preparatory classes for the Grandes Ecoles filled with scholarship students. He has named Yazid Sabeg diversity czar. Rhetorically, his most interesting move was the invocation of the Third Republic, arguably the Golden Age of le boursier, as a foil to the notion that "republicanism" is equivalent to "egalitarianism." When the Republic was at its best in fulfilling the dreams of ordinary Frenchmen, Sarkozy argued, it did not treat everyone equally but sought out the best and the brightest for special privilege. Well, yes, it did, but not on the basis of race, residential location, or attendance of a particular lycée. This is Patrick Weil's fundamental reason for favoring the "Texas plan," under which the top ten percent of students in all high schools are entitled to admission to the state university. Although Sarko has called for 30 percent of students in the classes prépa to be scholarship students (the figure already stands at 23%), he didn't say how many of these the Grandes Ecoles ought to admit; thus a fundamental ambiguity hovers over the plan.

Meanwhile, a commission headed by Simone Veil recommended against a constitutional amendment to enshrine diversity as a fundamental goal of the regime. Sarko also announced an experiment in which 100 firms would switch to the use of anonymous CV's in their hiring. This in response to the following study mentioned by Veil:

En 2004, Jean-François Amadieu, qui dirige l'Observatoire des discriminations, a envoyé plus de 1800 curriculum vitae concernant des postes de commerciaux pour lesquels il a obtenu 258 réponses. A CV identique, l'homme blanc portant un nom français et résidant à Paris était convoqué à 75 entretiens d'embauche, le même résidant au Val-Fourré, à Mantes-la-Jolie, n'en obtenait que 45 et pour celui qui portait un nom à consonance marocaine, le nombre d'entretiens tombait à 14… Dans l'entreprise, les discriminations se poursuivent : à diplôme de l'enseignement supérieur égal, seuls 11% des jeunes d'origine algérienne âgés de 25 à 33 ans sont cadres alors que 46% des jeunes d'origine française le sont.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Apparently, the goal was set in 2005 by Jacques Chirac. 2009 was supposed to see 30% scholarship students in the prépas.
So Sarko pushes the goal back one year but asks that EACH prépa admit 30% boursiers.
Somehow, I doubt prépas wil be held accountable.
All in all, the announcement is a good move but not as serious as I hoped.