ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Ecole: "La priorité à l’éducation ne s’accommode pas de budgets d’austérité"
Translated Monday 17 June 2013, by
Children of victims of social exclusion and of the unemployed are “in our classes”, and some of them have untreated health problems which handicap their schooling. This is because of the decrease of the welfare budget, said an alarmed Sébastien Sihr, secretary-general of the SNUipp-FSU (a French teachers’ union), in the opening speech last Tuesday at the congress of the first trade union for primary education.
“The children of the victims of social exclusion, and also of employees who are victims of redundancy plans […], are in our classes”, and this “very difficult situation is still going to deteriorate”, with the new social plans, he warned at the union conference organised this week at Saint-Malo (Ille-et-Vilaine). “How many teachers spot a child’s visual or hearing impairment or dental problems that handicap their normal school life?” he said in a worried tone, pointing out that “welfare budgets are plummeting; one French person in four says they postpone essential care because they do not have the means to finance it.”
We need group solidarity.
“These children and their families need group solidarity to cope.” Priority in education “cannot coexist with budgets marked by austerity”, he believes.
“The enterprise still risks foundering in the wake of future negotiations […] over unemployment benefits, where preparation for the 2014 budget points to a decrease for nearly all public services” including retirement, he warned.
Priority in education “can not coexist with budgets marked by austerity”, hammered out Sébastien Sihr, questioning the “liberalism” of the European Commission’s policies. These policies “bolster populist ideals”, he warned, pointing out a rise in “extreme attitudes of exclusion and hatred”, even instances where people “have taken action”, as in the death of the young Clément Méric.
The law on compulsory schooling in France, “far from being perfect”, “offers new perspectives for the primary school”, he said in contrast, mentioning the priority given to primary education and the trade union’s demand for the principle of “more teachers than classes”, as well as the creation of 60,000 jobs and new vocational training for teachers.
But “whatever it is, a law does not have the magic power to change the school. The real test is in the way it is set up, the way it is effectively deployed on site, in the schools, where we will judge its real efficiency for our pupils’ success.”