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France

Overview

Education

All educational programs in France are regulated by the Ministère de lʼEnseignement supérieur, de la Recherche et de lʼInnovation. As civil servants, teachers in public primary and secondary schools are employed by the Ministry, making it the largest employer in France. University faculty members are also employed by the government.

The curricula for the primary and secondary levels of education is uniform throughout the country for each grade in public and semi-public (subsidized) schools. However, there are specialized sections and options from which students may choose. Educators in France follow the reference Bulletin officiel de l'education national, de l'enseignement superieur et de la recherche (B.O.) which lists all teaching programs and directives.

France is divided into 35 territories called académies, 26 located in continental France and 9 in overseas territories. The Recteur (Rector) of the academy manages personnel and budgets pertaining to education for the territory and serves as a link between the academy and the Ministry in Paris. Each academy also manages the implementation of national curriculum and regulations of the Ministry.

The school calendar is standardized throughout mainland France by the Ministry of National Education, with the school year beginning in early September and ending in Early July. In overseas departments and territories, the school calendar is set by the local Rector.

Primary Education

Mandatory education in France begins at age 6, the first year of primary school. Many students begin school earlier around age 2 in pre-maternelle (pre-school) classes or ages 3-5 in maternelle (kindergarten). In the final year of maternelle, students begin to study reading. French primary school students usually have one or two teachers for all of the subjects they study in a given year. Primary school lasts for 5 years, ages 6-11.

Secondary Education

Secondary education in France is divided into two levels, collège, which lasts four years following primary school, and lycée, lasting three years after collège.

The grades are designated as follows:

Collège
Age Grade Numeric Grade
11 Sixième 6e
12 Cinquième 5e
13 Quatrième 4e
14 Troisième 3e

 

Lycée

 

Age Grade Numeric Grade
15 Seconde 2e
16 Première 1e
17 Terminale Term or Tle

Completion of university preparatory secondary education leads to the Baccalaureat de l'enseignement du second degre, which is comparable to a U.S. high school diploma. Students take their exams in a series or subject stream of the Baccalaureat général which concentrates on the subject specialization of the high school program the student followed: science stream (S), literary stream (L), or economic & social (ES).

The Baccalaureat technologique programs prepare students for further studies in science, technology, music, dance, or hotel management. There are 8 streams:

  1. STT: sciences et technologies tertiaires (tertiary science & technology)
  2. STI: sciences et technologies industrielles (industrial science & technology)
  3. STL: sciences et technologies de laboratoire (lab science & technology)
  4. SMS: sciences et techniques medico-sociales (medical-social science / techniques)
  5. STPA: sciences et technologies du produit agroalimentaire (agriculture/food sciences & technology)
  6. STAE: sciences et technologies d’agronomie et de l’environment (agronomy & environment science & technology)
  7. TMD: techniques de la musique et de la danse (techniques of music & dance)
  8. HM: hôtellerie (hotel management)

The Brevet de Technicien is awarded upon completion of technical programs in such fields as agriculture, manufacturing, or industrial studies and gives access to non-university technical high educational programs such as the Brevetde Technicien Supérieur.

Students who do not complete the Bac général, Bac technologique, or Brevet de Technicien may end their schooling one year early, after La classe de première, and are awarded either the CAP or BEP (Certificat d'Aptitude Professionnelle (CAP) or Brevet d'Etudes Professionnelles (BEP).) The CAP or BEP are awarded to students who have following a specific stream of study preparing them for various professions (commercial, industrial, service).

In the vocational/technical secondary track, following the CAP or BEP, students may choose from numerous programs for additional training in technical, industrial, or artistic fields:

Post-Secondary Education

Academic

Admission to the first cycle of higher education in France requires the Baccalauréat. Until the BolognaAgreement, the first cycle was 2 years in length and lead to the Diplôme d'Etudes Universitaires Generales. Admission to the second cycle (Licence and Maîtrise programs) required the DEUG, which was awarded upon completion of general education and an introduction to the major field of study for the Licence and Maîtrise. This system has been replaced with the Licence-Mastere- Doctorat (LMD) sequence of degrees, with the Licence awarded upon completion of 3 years of study beyond the Baccalauréat, the Mastere awarded 2 years after the Licence, and the Doctorat awarded at least 2 years following the Master's degree (program lengths vary).

Each French university offers a field of subject specialization unique to that institution. With multiple universities in each major city there may be 1 institution specializing in science, 1 for humanities, 1 for engineering, and others for additional specialized higher education programs. Public universities are named after the city in which they were founded, such as Université de Paris I, V, XIII.

The Grandes Écoles are higher education institutions outside the French university system. They are usually focused on 1 subject specialization, such as engineering or business, and are highly selective in the admission of students. The classes preparatoires aux grandes écoles are classes which prepare students for admission into the specific grande école subject specialization. Classes preparatoires usually require 2 years of study and may be offered in a high school or at the Grande école. These classes are considered postsecondary in level, regardless of where they are held. Upon completion of the classes preparatoires, the student takes a concours (entrance examination) for admission to the grande école.

Technical

Short-term higher technical studies are offered through the following three types of institutions:

  1. Instituts Universitaires de Technologie (IUT): IUTs are connected to the universities and prepare students for the workforce or further higher education. The credentials awarded include:
    • Diplôme Universitaire de Technologie (DUT) after a two-year program
    • Diplôme National de Technologie Specialisee (DNTS) after a 1-year program which requires the DUT or BTS for admission. Program includes 4 months of study and 8 months in industry)
  2. Lycées: The credentials awarded include:
  3. Universities: The credentials awarded include:

THE CONTRIBUTORS

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