Place education at the heart of the campaign, outline ways of improving Catholic education and schools in general. This is the approach of the Association of parents of free education students (Apel), which publishes at the beginning of February a series of proposals for presidential candidates, as it had already done in 2017.
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The parents’ association pleads in favor of effective freedom of choice for families. “We must guarantee the freedom to open free establishments in all territories, all districts”, she urges, emphasizing her desire to promote more social diversity.
This recommendation is also a response to the rise of private establishments outside the contract (122 creations, including 12% of Catholic schools, at the start of the last school year). It also reminds us that, each year, many families are refused enrollment in a Catholic school, “for lack of adequacy of the territorial network to the educational needs but also because the means do not follow where the demand is strong”, as stated by the president of Apel, Gilles Demarquet. However, can we read in the document, “educational freedom only exists if there is equity of financial means”.
Public subsidies for school catering
It is alsoin the name of fairness that the Apel joins the fight initiated by the General Secretariat of Catholic Education for a public financial contribution in terms of catering. “The canteen and day care centers must be an integral part of school time. These are important times of schooling, especially for children from disadvantaged families., insists the association. However, the average cost of a meal (around €7) dissuades many parents from enrolling their children in the private sector under contract.
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While almost all primary school children now have lunch in the canteen because both parents work, Apel asks the future executive “to encourage communities to subsidize school catering in Catholic education as it does in public education”, deciphers Gilles Demarquet. “A child is a child. There is no reason for him to be treated differently depending on the school he attends., he pleads.
A school better connected to the business world
For the rest, the Apel suggests an increase in autonomy for the establishments, a theme that several candidates (Valérie Pécresse and Emmanuel Macron in particular) carry or could carry. The association wants “a real educational team formed by the headteacher around a project”. And better cooperation between adults requires, she argues, “bivalence”, in other words the fact of teaching two disciplines. A casus belli in the eyes of the teachers’ unions. However, the measure would have the advantage of “allow teachers to work their entire schedule in one establishment and not be shared among several”, argues Gilles Demarquet.
Committed for a long time to a rapprochement between school and the economic world, the Apel also suggests including a week of internship in a company for all future teachers, as part of their initial training. “This better connection between school and the world of work is clearly part of the requests made by families”, comments Julien Goarant, account manager at BVA.
“A secularism that makes room for fraternity”
The polling institute carried out a qualitative survey on behalf of Apel to identify the expectations of parents, both public and private, vis-à-vis the school. “It appears that the latter want both more individualized educational approaches and a stronger commitment to an education that goes beyond simple instruction and promotes civic values. »
This is perhaps what leads the Appeal to plead, somewhat surprisingly, for a “positive secularism”, a controversial expression used by President Sarkozy in his Lateran speech in 2007. “It is a peaceful secularism, as we experience it in our establishments. A secularism which leaves everyone free to believe or not but does not cut man off from the spiritual and which above all makes room for fraternity., explains Gilles Demarquet.