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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Salaire : les enseignants français en queue de peloton

by Sylvie Ducatteau

France’s Teachers Among OECD’s Worst-Paid

Translated Thursday 25 September 2014, by Gene Zbikowski

The OECD has just published its 2014 indicators on education in the 33 countries participating in the study. Public schools in France come out rather well, although the OECD confirms serious insufficiencies and the persistence of inequalities.

Confirmation more than information. France is trailing behind. France’s teachers are among the worst-paid in the OECD countries. This is true across the board for primary and secondary school teachers, but it’s an understatement regarding young primary school teachers. The wage gap is an abyss, seeing that Germany’s beginner teachers make 46% more on average than their French counterparts. The gap falls to 19% by the end of a teaching career, after having spent 29 years in the classroom.

And yet, France can take pride in having the teachers with the most schooling (possessors of a Master 2 degree, that is, five years of higher education). This is exceptional in Europe. But their pedagogical training is unsatisfactory, as is the in-house training, which they do not believe to be adapted to their needs. And it is in France that the time allotted to in-house training is the shortest: four days a year, as against twice that in the other OECD countries. In sum, 40% of French teachers feel they have not been sufficiently prepared to do their job. This is the highest rate among the 34 OECD countries.

Financing of education is way out of kilter

France invests 6% of its GDP in education, but in a very imbalanced way. While her expenditures per secondary school student are 20% higher than the average expenditure in the OECD countries, on the other hand they are 20% lower for each primary school pupil. For the OECD, this is an incongruity. In general, France has kept up the level of its public education expenditures. They rose in 2011 (up 2%) but more slowly than the overall change in government expenditures (up 5%).

The great impact of having a diploma on getting a job

Educational levels have soared over the past 40 years, thanks, according to the OECD, to a “successful” democratization of the school system. In 2012, 43% of those aged 25-34 had a higher education diploma, as against an average of 39% in the OECD countries. Only 20% of those aged 55-64 had a higher education diploma (24% in the OECD countries). The younger generation is more highly educated than their parents, but upward social mobility is easiest for those already at the top of the social ladder.

The rise in educational levels has led to a rise in skills which the OECD describes as “spectacular.” Not surprisingly, the people who have the best skills have the easiest time getting a job. Among those at the top end of the skills chart, 84% have a job and only 4.5% are unemployed. At the other end of the chart, the unemployment rate among the least-educated young people jumped 6% between 2008 and 2012, rising from 13.6% to 19.8%.

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