Emmanuel Macron announced, Friday, October 2, that home schooling will be, from the start of the 2021 school year, “Strictly limited, in particular to health requirements”, and that it will therefore become compulsory within the school from the age of 3.
” It is a necessity. I made a decision, undoubtedly one of the most radical since the laws of 1882 and those ensuring the school mix between boys and girls in 1969 ”, underlined the Head of State during a speech on separatism in Mureaux (Yvelines).
→ CONTEXT. Separatism: what to remember from Emmanuel Macron’s speech
According to figures cited by a report by Senator Jacqueline Eustache-Brinio (LR) published in July, the number of home-educated children has exploded in recent years, from around 18,000 in 2010 to 36,000 in 2018.
The law for a School of Confidence of July 2019 lowered the age of compulsory education from 6 to 3 years. As a result, the number of home-schooled children has increased further, with many parents unwilling to send their little ones to kindergarten.
50,000 home-schooled children
The Head of State thus announced the figure of 50,000 home-schooled children. It is difficult to say precisely what the profile and what are the motivations of these families, but the phenomenon seems particularly important in working-class neighborhoods. The Senate report mentioned that in Val-d’Oise, we had gone from 325 children at the start of the 2018 school year to 589 at the start of the 2019 school year, an increase of 81%.
→ READ. Home schooling will be more controlled
To justify the reform, Emmanuel Macron referred to the situation of these children supposed to be home-schooled but whom radical Muslim families group together in clandestine schools, real places of indoctrination. He cited the case of the closure of an establishment in Seine-Saint-Denis last week, which had 70 children aged 3 to 10.
How many children does that represent? In the absence of precise statistics, one can think that it is a very small part of the 50,000 children who are not in school, but the phenomenon worries many local elected officials.
From now on, therefore, home schooling will only be possible in exceptional cases. The president mentioned health reasons but at the Ministry of National Education, we also mention disability situations, children from itinerant families or high-level sports minors.
This reform, which the president presents as historic, is it not contrary to respect for fundamental freedoms? At the Ministry of Education, we highlight a decision of the Constitutional Council of 1978 which specifies the meaning of the principle of freedom of education (Debré law of 1959): it is about the free choice of the establishment which is guaranteed to parents but not a right to home schooling. As for the European Court of Human Rights, it has, again according to the rue de Grenelle, validated the prohibition, by certain States, of home schooling.
Emmanuel Macron also confirmed that schools not contracted “Will be subject to even more stringent supervision”. In April 2018, a bill from the centrist Senator Françoise Gatel had already made it possible to change the conditions for the creation of private establishments. Until then, the project promoters submitted an opening declaration and the authorities (the mayor or the prefecture) had two months to oppose it. Since this text, the creation of a private school is subject to a prior authorization system.
It is now the control of existing establishments that will be reinforced. At the Ministry of Education, it is explained that until now there were two procedures. The prefectural authority can take an administrative decision to close for reasons of hygiene, safety of the premises or public order.
Administrative closure of private schools
On the other hand, if the national education administration wants to close an establishment, with regard for example to the content of the training or the teaching staff, it must refer the matter to the judge and a legal procedure opens. In this case, the school officials can form a suspensive appeal, allowing the establishment to continue these activities. The reform will therefore aim to extend the framework of the administrative procedure to reasons related to personnel or the content of teaching.
“I say it very clearly here, the freedom of education is important in our Republic and there is no question of calling it into question”, wanted to clarify the president. Nevertheless, this freedom is indeed more and more supervised, even as private establishments multiply.
Muslim education went from 4 establishments in 2007 to 101 in 2019, 95 of which were not contracted. However, the Ministry of Education specified in the senatorial report of July that only 18% of establishments without contract which opened at the start of the 2019 school year are “Characterized by confessional or identity criteria”. “Conversely, 75% of students” of these schools, “Are educated in establishments offering alternative pedagogies”. Motivated mainly by the control of Muslim education, the expected reform will have consequences far beyond.