After two months of vacation, schoolchildren (6.5 million), college students (3.4 million) and high school students (2.2 million) began Thursday morning to find their friends, get to know their teachers and discover their schedule.
Unlike the two previous back-to-school periods, teachers and students will not wear masks, due to the lull on the Covid-19 front. Two years ago, college and high school students had to put it on. Last year, this was the case for all students from CP.
The start of the school year took place last year under the seal of the health crisis. This year, it is under that of the teacher recruitment crisis that it takes place. A phenomenon which is not new but which has worsened further this year, with more than 4,000 unfilled positions in the country’s competitions, out of 27,300 open positions in the public and private sectors (and 850,000 teachers in total).
“We obviously wanted there to be a teacher in front of each student for this start of the school year. And it is necessarily an anxiety for parents to ask themselves the question of whether this will be the case”, declared Thursday the Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne on France Inter.
“I’m not going to tell you that there can’t be a case”, with “adjustments in the days to come”, she admitted. “But in any case, I think that this return to school will go well.”
The Minister of Education Pap Ndiaye has promised in recent days that even if the conditions “are not optimal”, the start of the school year would be “comparable to that of last year”, “with a teacher in front of each class”.
– “Explosive return” –
To overcome the shortage of teachers, the National Education has recruited contract teachers – 3,000 according to Pap Ndiaye – trained in a few days before finding themselves facing a class.
In order to reassure, again, the Minister of Education, who is making his first comeback to this position, repeated that “more than 80% of contract workers have already taught”.
But the concerns are strong on the side of the parents of pupils as well as the unions.
“Last year my son was in a CE1-CE2 double level class. They were 28, the teacher was a bit overloaded. She was often absent, she was not replaced for a week, they had not found We spent a week looking after our children,” 45-year-old Bénédicte Candir told AFP in front of the Charles-Péguy elementary school in Créteil.
Parents of students fear “an explosive return to school”, told AFP Nageate Belahcen, co-president of the FCPE, the first federation of parents of students. “Absent teachers who are not replaced, contract workers who are not sufficiently trained or maths in high school…Families are anxious”, she says.
The unions denounce them “a tinkering” in the face of the recruitment of contract workers during the summer.
“The promise of a teacher to each student seems more like a political slogan than reality,” said Sophie Vénétitay, general secretary of Snes-FSU, the first secondary union, this week. This union started the keyword
“We will have adults in front of the classes, not teachers”, declares the Snuipp-FSU, the first primary union, which already fears that the lack of replacements will be felt from the first sick leave or maternity leave.
To restore the attractiveness of the teaching profession, the government has laid down some milestones on the remuneration side. Pap Ndiaye promised that “no teacher would start their career at less than 2,000 euros net per month from the start of the 2023 school year”. This will be “a starting salary, excluding bonuses”. And “significant” increases will take place, he said, without giving a timeline.