Macron’s reform for higher education, the “education plan”, unveiled on October 30th, will be debated in parliament. “No selection, only better orientation for more success” they tell us. And yet, the logic of the new bill is to prevent working class kids from filling up university classrooms and move rapidly to where they are needed… to a low pay job.
A crisis orchestrated by all the successive governments…
Macron had already set the tone after being elected and it was decided in July that higher education would get a €331 million budget cut. All the attacks against higher education budgets over the years, combined with the baby boom of the 2000’s, resulted in an unsurprising chaos at the beginning of the school year.
Understaffing in education is clearly felt, and was made worse this year with tens of thousands of assisted jobs being cut. Classrooms are overcrowded, from primary school to university. Middle school students have to wait for weeks to know which high school they will be able to attend. And 87,000 high school graduates had not gotten any university assignment through the online platform for admission to university.
From the point of view of the government, the problem solved itself: a large fraction of those who did not get a university assignment gave up and took a small job. Not everyone can get in? The previous government had organised a lottery: some university curriculum chose randomly who would be admitted.
… to justify emergency measures …
Now the government says chance should no longer decide who will be able to study anymore. This seems like a no brainer… but the goal is to justify selecting who enters university. Despite having their baccalaureate, students will still have to show they have the required level for university. Except that it’s harder for some than others to enter university.
It’s already harder for students from vocational and technological high schools, after getting their diploma, to move on to higher technical training that would allow them to find jobs better paid than minimum wage.
Until 2022, 40,000 additional students will finish high school each year. With limited resources and more selection, the future for working class youths looks more like Deliveroo, McDonald’s, or Lidl, when it’s not unemployment.
… that continue social segregation
In the hive, every bee has a role, the rulers make sure of it. Selection is made well before the end of high school. As soon as primary school, students from working class neighbourhoods have a very low probability to ever make it to university. The school system maintains the “republican meritocracy” for a society that requires cheap labour. No government will consider freeing up money to allow children of workers to reach higher education. Macron’s “education plan”, to which he will add a similar minded reform of high school diploma, is the latest reform added to an education system that is everything but egalitarian, and is made to serve the bosses.
The president of the rich should not feel so confident that he can pass all his anti-worker reforms, such as those on labour law or on unemployment benefits. One day he might awaken a social outburst.