French newspapers and websites were almost wholly negative about the state of the country's education system following a report from the Paris-based OECD on the state of education in countries around the world.

"/> French newspapers and websites were almost wholly negative about the state of the country's education system following a report from the Paris-based OECD on the state of education in countries around the world.

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EDUCATION

French media lament poor education rating

French newspapers and websites were almost wholly negative about the state of the country's education system following a report from the Paris-based OECD on the state of education in countries around the world.

French media lament poor education rating
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“France, champion of inequality in education” lamented Le Figaro. “The OECD paints a damning picture of education in France” said Les Echos. “France stagnates in education matters”, moaned L’Express. 

The Education At A Glance 2011 report, published on Tuesday, provided plenty of statistics for commentators to analyse and most drew negative conclusions.

L’Express highlighted the fact that France is one of the few countries to have seen its enrolment rate of 15-19 year olds fall between 1995 and 2009, from 89 to 84 percent. Overall, this rate increased in other OECD countries by 9 percent.

“13 percent of young people are completely outside the school system, that’s 130,00 a year” said Bernard Hugonnier, education director at the OECD. He described the rate as a “macabre permanent feature” of the French system.

Le Parisien said that the OECD was “warning France” in its latest report. The newspaper pointed out that France was 33rd out of a total of 34 countries when it came to inequalities in the school system (New Zealand came in last).  

For Le Monde, the story in the data was that 1995 was the year that the quality of education in France either stagnated or started declining.

Midi Libre chose to lead on the fact that teachers’ salaries in France have fallen in real terms since 1995 while they have “risen in two-thirds of other countries”, according to Eric Charbonnier, an education analyst at the OECD quoted by the newspaper.

Catholic daily La Croix managed to pull out one sliver of positive news from the report. It reported that 84 percent of adults have a good secondary education level qualification, better than the OECD average of 81 percent.

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ALMEDALEN 2022

Swedish PM pledges to ban profit making at free schools

Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson has pledged to stop companies withdrawing profits from schools, in what is likely to be one of the Social Democrats' main campaigning issues in the coming election campaign.

Swedish PM pledges to ban profit making at free schools

The proposal, one of three measures announced to “take back democratic control over the school system”, was launched on the first day of the Almedalen political festival on the island of Gotland.

On Sunday evening, Andersson is set to give the first big speech of the festival, with Ulf Kristersson, leader of the centre-right Moderate party, and Left Party leader Nooshi Dadgostar scheduled to make their speeches on Monday, and Sweden’s other party leaders taking slots on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.  

“Schools in Sweden should focus on knowledge, not on the pursuit of profit,” Andersson said, as she made the pledge, stressing that her party aimed not only to ban withdrawing profits, but also “to make sure that all the possible loopholes are closed”. 

Free schools, she complained, siphon off billions of kronor in tax money every year at the same time as free schools increase divisions in society. 

Banning profits from schools is an obvious campaigning issue for the Social Democrats. The latest poll by Gothenburg University’s SOM Institute found that fully 67 percent of voters support such a ban.

The only issue is that the Centre Party, whose support the Social Democrats will need to form a government, is likely to block a future Social Democrat government from implementing it, something Andersson was willing to acknowledge.

“What I know is that there’s a very strong support for this among the Swedish people, but not in the Swedish parliament,” she said. 

The Social Democrats have campaigned on the issue in past elections, pledging to stoppa vinstjakten, or “stop the pursuit of profit in schools”, or, in the run-up to the 2018 election, only to see the policy blocked in the January Agreement the party did to win the support of the Centre Party and the Liberal party.  

On Sunday, Andersson would not give any details on whether companies listed on Swedish or international stockmarkets would be prevented from operating schools, saying she was leaving such details to an inquiry into reforming Sweden’s free school system the government launched on June 30th.  

In the press conference, Andersson criticised the inflated grades given out by free schools, which are dismissed by critics as glädjebetyg, literally “happy grades”.

“We end up having pupils who graduate with good marks who then realise that their school has let them down,” she said. 

At the press conference, Andersson also reiterated the Social Democrats call to ban the establishment of new religious free schools, and announced plans for a national schools choice system, stripping free schools of the ability to run their own queue systems. 

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