Monday, December 30, 2013

Inequality in France: The Contribution of the Grandes Écoles

Interesting statistics:

La réalité est plus triviale : alors qu’ils représentent 29% des bacheliers, seuls 5% d’enfants d’ouvriers sont inscrits en classes préparatoires, et leur part tombe à 2,5% des élèves des écoles normales supérieures et des grandes écoles commerciales. Ce chiffre n’a d’ailleurs cessé de décliner depuis vingt ans. Rappelons aussi que le nombre élevé d’heures de cours en classe préparatoire (une quarantaine, soit deux fois plus environ qu’à l’université), couplé à un système de bourse insuffisant, exclut de fait les élèves les plus défavorisés souvent obligés de travailler pour payer leurs études ; et que, enfin, ce sont en réalité quatre ou cinq lycées, en préparant aux concours, qui, derrière les statistiques rassurantes de la Conférence des grandes écoles, assurent à eux seuls le recrutement des élites de la République.


Siegfried said...

OK, so, to begin my comment, I must present myself : I am a young engineer from one of the top 3 engineering schools (I let you guess if I am military or not !), have studied in a mid-level prep school from countryside before, and my parents are from what remains of provincial middle-class in France.

First : I agree with the observation. In my school as in others, social mixity is low and tends to decrease. People in Parisian top-prep schools (Ginette, H4, LLG, etc...) get each year a greater pourcentage of the admissions in the best schools (HEC, X, Mines, ENS, Centrale, etc...). The old time when a workers' son could go in a little prep school in, let's say, Troyes, and be admitted at X is quite over now, and I am a very scarce exception.

But I can't stand the conclusions that are usually down by leftist medias and politics in France, which is : "we should eradicate this system, because the test is too discriminating and the system fails to renew its social mixity". First, I think the situation we get to know is due to the fall of the level of education in public primary and secondary schools (where I have been... for the best and the worst), and rue de Grenelle (French education ministery) is not known to be rigth-wing and pro-prepa, so... Second : I must remind here that the system is TOTALLY free (except for, obviously, the renting of a flat if you need one - but you can be helped by APL - and the sum between 500 and 1000€ that you must spend once or twice in your life for your tests). And after, you go to engineering schools, which are mainly very cheap, or business schools, which are not but that guarantee high-payed jobs to their students. So where is the default of accessibility for low-class student ?

The gap is not about money, it's about education, culture references, and self-confidence. And it's not with someone like Vincent Peillon that it will get better, trust me...

Anonymous said...

Well said Siegfried. The dumbing- down of education is a phenomenon now affecting much of Western Europe. It is propagated by the Left which refuses to demand higher expectations from immigrant communities (on grounds of "cultural insensitivity" and similar 'politically correct' perversity)so instead drags everyone downwards -- the "prizes for all" mantra.
This leads directly to what you have set out above.
It is criminal because youngsters only have one real stab at proper education in their careers.

Siegfried said...

I would not say it's only because of the immigrants' arrival, but it's one of the factor. The biggest problem is at Grenelle and not at Beauvau, in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

I am the same anonymous. I just wanted to add that I was moved to comment by a recent reading.
Les lisières, de Olivier Adam.
I knew it already from sociological articles and statistics, but the presentation in a Novel makes it very vivid.