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“College” in distance, “prep” in face-to-face, are inequalities widening?

Thursday, October 29, while France moved back into confinement, Jean-Michel Blanquer announced that high schools remained open. That day, nothing had been said about the preparatory classes and the BTS. It was Gabriel Attal, the government spokesperson, who had specified on social networks the maintenance of face-to-face courses for these students.

Preparatory classes with the same protocol as in high schools

“The preparatory classes were able to resume face-to-face lessons after the first confinement because they follow the same protocol as the high schools, and the numbers make it possible to avoid mixing”, recalls Mickaël Prost, president of the Union of teachers of scientific preparatory classes. However, the situation for preparatory classes is not uniform, recalls Laurent Champaney, vice-president of the Conférence des grandes écoles: “The operation is not the same according to the high schools: some are semi-distant and therefore not all progress at the same pace. “ Officials therefore join their colleagues at the university: “We share the same observation as them: distance learning courses are likely to wreak havoc on students. We would also like face-to-face lessons to be a priority for everyone. “

On the university side, this differential treatment sometimes struggles to pass. “We have been alerting since the first confinement on the inequalities which are in the process of widening”, denounces Maryam Pougetoux, vice-president of the National Union of Students of France (Unef), who argues: “The preparatory classes correspond to the equivalent of a tutorial in number of people. “

In universities, a gradual recovery that is long overdue

Aware of the students’ difficulties, the Ministry of Higher Education announced in early January “A gradual resumption of face-to-face teaching, initially limited to welcoming small groups of ten students maximum . But many universities have made the choice, in this re-entry, to favor the organization of partials, whether face-to-face or remote. “We were told this takeover in small groups from the beginning of January, but their implementation is long overdue. Unfortunately it is urgent, we will not be able to make up for the educational backlog of thousands of students ”, deplores Maryam Pougetoux.

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Other organizations also continue to call for the return of onsite courses, such as the Conference of University Presidents (CPU). “We are asking for the resumption of at least part of the lessons, because the current situation is catastrophic for the students. Many drop out, others are in psychological distress ”, alert François Germinet, president of Cergy Paris Université and member of the board of directors of the CPU.

A meeting is again scheduled with the Prime Minister, this Friday, January 15, to talk about the situation of students and a potential resumption of face-to-face classes by February.


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