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France: new initiative aims to team up university students with pupils in underprivileged areas

After the riots in the “banlieue” of several French cities and political debate on the need to increase access to (higher) education in underprivileged areas, the French Ministry of Education is now taking concrete action: a new initiative, 100 000 étudiants pour 100 000 élèves (100 000 tertiary students for 100 000 school students), was launched at several French higher education institutions this month. The initiative aims to recruit volunteers among tertiary students from French universities or preparatory classes for the Grandes Ecoles, the elite schools, who would want to support and orientate school students in their school work and choice of further education. Depending on the programme’s or institution’s focus, students may get ECTS credits to compensate for their efforts. The main objectives of 100 000 étudiants pour 100 000 élèves are to
  • develop educational ambitions of school students;
  • familiarise school students with high level programmes;
  • encourage them to pursue tertiary education.
The initiative builds on plans, released in February 2006 by the Ministry, to relaunch education prioritaire (educational priority policy), aiming to create the adequate conditions to correct any educational disadvantage among children resulting from social, cultural and economic factors. A first stocktaking of initiatives is underway, and an outlook to future steps will be presented in early November.  100 000 étudiants pour 100 000 élèves
Speech of Gilles Robien
Dossier (in French): education prioritaire