French education abroad: the good figures of the AEFE

Agility. This is the word that the AEFE has learned and repeated as a mantra in two years of pandemic that has not saved any of the 552 French institutes in the world. “It simply came to our notice then two particularly difficult years for the network because it was directly affected from January 2020 by the effects of the health crisis, recalls Olivier Brochet, the director of the AEFE, the Agency under the supervision of the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs that coordinates the network of French educational establishments abroad. This led us first to the closure of all establishments, then to their gradual reopening, with ups and downs and continuous improvements. Many institutes have had to adapt to very complicated health protocols and hybrid situations. This was especially difficult and led all establishments to install educational devices that they had never had to set up. Hybrid teaching, distance-only or face-to-face classes with barrier gestures, the work of all the teaching teams in the field has been dictated by the evolution of the pandemic, country by country, with very strong support from the AEFE to comply its educational mission is to ensure that students, despite all these circumstances, can be educated even if they are not present in the establishments. Successful support, all the exams have been well organized online for the last two years and the students have been able to pass the baccalaureate and the patent with always excellent results.

A fund of 100 million euros

Until the first effect. “The second, Mr. Brochet continues, it is economical and with direct effects in many institutes, because families have found it difficult to pay tuition fees. There has also been a drop in staff in several establishments, especially at the beginning of the 2020-2021 academic year. The AEFE’s response was twofold: firstly, very strong support from the Agency for the educational plan to adapt the equipment, but also to all the families, not only French, who were already supported by the system. , but also foreign families. in difficulty. To this end, the State has made available to the AEFE a special fund of 100 million euros voted in the summer of 2020 in the framework of the amendment of the finance law, and access to advances France Trésor. “Not all families are eligible, but we have had an increase in the volume of scholarships that has allowed us to respond to additional requests. explains Mr. Brochet. The credits we have received have also allowed us to help, during the period 2020-2021, foreign families who usually cannot apply for scholarships.

Growth paths

The second element of the balance sheet, of which the AEFE is undoubtedly more satisfied, is that no establishment has closed definitively. The support provided helped keep the entire network afloat. “And the third point, continues Olivier Brochet, is that since the beginning of the last year there has been a clear growth in the number of students enrolled. We are now 380,000 students online with a growth rate of 2.2% in September 2021. The increase was even greater in certain regions such as sub-Saharan Africa, where the increase in tuition reached 9.5%. Across the Maghreb and Middle East region, growth rates range from 4 to 10% depending on the establishment. “We are in a form of convalescence of the network that is recovering from the crisis”, trusts Mr. Brochet. Everyone also notes that the image of French education abroad has not been weakened by the crisis. “Not even close! congratulates himself because our ability to respond has finally improved our attractiveness. “ And we see that with the entry of additional establishments at the beginning of last year. “The crisis was overcome, although with difficulty, admits Olivier Brochet, but we have all mobilized to face this very special period. We are coming out with a foundation that remains solid and allows us to dedicate ourselves completely to our development plan. ”

A great challenge

This dynamic must not be denied if the AEFE wants to achieve the goal set in 2018 by Emmanuel Macron: double the number of students in French high schools by 2030! The challenge is great. “Of course, the crisis marks a slowdown in the growth we wanted, acknowledges Olivier Brochet, but if we compare the current figures with those of March 2018, that is, when the Head of State said, we have about 60 additional establishments on the Net. and the number of students teaching French abroad has increased by about 40,000 students!The increase in the number of students requires, in the first place, aid from approved establishments that will allow them to accommodate even more students. “When an establishment is created, it starts with the opening of a nursery, details Mr. Brochet, it is approved, then the director will request the approval of cycle 1, cycle 2 and cycle 3. Therefore, there is necessarily a growth effect that accelerates year after year thanks to the increase of the staff of new establishments.The integration of new establishments into the network is the mission of the new Network Development Support Service (SADR) created by the AEFE in January 2019, just one year before the Covid-19 crisis. “It was the first response to the presidential order even before the announced development plan was announced! welcomes Olivier Brochet. We put ourselves in order.SADR has already signed some sixty agreements with project promoters, whether they are parent management committees or organizations that invest in education. These candidates are accompanied by the goal, in the next two or three years, to obtain the approval of the MENJS that allows them to join the network. The AEFE periodically receives requests for support.

Reinforce training

The second lever of growth is to give these establishments the means to develop while guaranteeing quality, and therefore the number one challenge is that of human resources. ” Institutions must find competent teachers in French programs, Mr. Pike advances. This is a major project for the AEFE, which consists of enhancing its tool for continuous staff training. The Minister of National Education, Youth and Sports, Jean-Michel Blanquer, has promised to ensure that during the decade 2020-2030, the number of people in a situation of affiliation to the French educational network abroad will increase by 1,000 headlines, which is very positive. To ensure continuing education, in particular for local recruits, “ we created the Regional Training Institutes on January 1, and it is now fully consolidated by the new law passed on the initiative of Senator Samantha Cazebonne explains Olivier Brochet. An IRF has been opened in each of the sixteen areas of the world. They make it possible to strengthen the AEFE training system by adapting it to the challenges of the development plan. ” This is an absolutely essential step for the soundness of our process and its credibility over time, concludes Olivier Brochet. It is relatively easy to make walls, but it is very difficult to put teachers. And schools are walls and teachers. »

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