At the helm of a notoriously explosive ministry, the historian must also face a barrage of fire from the opposition, especially the far right.

His arrival rue de Grenelle is the “last stone in the deconstruction of our country, its values ​​and its future”, said Friday evening the leader of the National Rally Marine Le Pen. Party chairman Jordan Bardella calls him a “racialist and anti-cop activist.”

“Emmanuel Macron said that the history of France had to be deconstructed. Pap Ndiaye will take care of it”, reacted the other far-right presidential candidate Eric Zemmour (Reconquest!).

From her first speech after the announcement of her government, Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne stepped up to the plate on Friday at the 8:00 p.m. newspaper on TF1.

“It’s perfectly caricatural, which doesn’t surprise me from the people you mentioned,” she said, referring to comments by Marine Le Pen and Eric Zemmour.

“Pap Ndiaye is a very committed Republican, someone who believes in the values ​​of the Republic and that is obviously what he will carry as Minister of National Education”, she pleaded.

– “Cooler than woke” –

The appointment rue de Grenelle of this intellectual, of a French mother and a Senegalese father, is all the more noticeable as his personality seems to break with that of his predecessor Jean-Michel Blanquer, long considered a strong link in Macronie before his star has not faded in recent months.

Mr. Ndiaye, 56, specialist in the history of minorities, “is an extremely respected personality, a very great academic”, underlined Jean-Louis Bourlanges, MoDem deputy (center) on Franceinfo.

“But we are still moving from a demanding political culture in terms of secularism to a very different political culture”.

The 75-year-old deputy adds that he is “very sensitive to the danger of wokism, of cancel culture”. “Even if I believe in welcoming new cultures, I would not like the fundamental values ​​of secularism and freedom of thought not to be defended with the same energy,” he adds. “Moving from one system to another without warning, that challenges us”.

Jean-Michel Blanquer posed as a spearhead against “wokism” and “Islamo-leftism”. A very media fight which earned him praise (and not only on the right) but also the exasperation of some of the teachers. They felt that their minister should above all strive to remedy the inequalities of the French school system and revalorize the profession of teacher.

In June 2021, after his appointment as head of the Palais de la Porte Dorée (which includes the Museum of History and Immigration), Pap Ndiaye told Le Monde that he “shares most of the causes” of the militants qualified as ” woke”, “like feminism, the fight for the protection of the environment or anti-racism”.

“But I don’t approve of the moralizing or sectarian speeches of some of them”, he added, saying he felt “cooler than woke”. “It is undoubtedly a question of generation”.

– “Real emergencies” –

Reputed to be a supporter of consensus, the personality of this novice in politics could be an asset in promoting reconciliation with the teaching world, after months of confrontation with his predecessor.

Those who have worked with Pap Ndiaye praise his ability to pacify and resolve controversies.

For his first words on the steps of the Ministry of Education, during the transfer of power on Friday evening, the new minister first paid tribute to “a fellow historian, Samuel Paty”, assassinated in October 2020 by a young terrorist , and advocated “dialogue with the entire educational community”.

Because beyond the controversies, several weighty projects await the new minister. Among the most urgent, the crisis in the recruitment of teachers and the reintroduction of mathematics in the common core in high school.

The main union of secondary school teachers, the Snes-FSU, has already warned: “National Education is not governed solely by symbols” and “the emergencies are real, rapid responses are expected, particularly in terms of salary “.