– What are the historical roots of mixed education?
Claude Lelièvre: “For a long time in France there were two very different educational networks: secondary institutions, reserved for the privileged socio-cultural people, while the mass of students went to municipal schools and perhaps continued in supplementary courses. We had a school for the privileged and a school for the people, structurally.
Under De Gaulle, in the 1960s, the high school was created. All students had to go to the same school, depending on where they lived. This is the creation of sectorization: before we chose our institution as we wanted and they took us, or not.
Soon, some of the privileged circles tried bend the rule. Those who could afford it entered the private sector. In the 1980s, exemptions to designate a specific public institution began. Since then, there have been ups and downs, but the underlying trend has been towards strengthening the bypasses. »
– Is the choice between public and private related to these diversity issues?
CL: “Initially, the distinction between public and private was sensitive on an ideological level. But as the Debré law of 1959 was enacted (which established a system of contracts between the state and private schools, editor’s note), the differences between the republican school and the Catholic school were reduced, with passages from one to the other.
The religious argument has lost importance, but the issue of socio-cultural interpersonality has become stronger. Currently, it is rather what dominates the fact of entering the private sector. »
– How did the change happen?
CL: “Slowly, and especially with the end of the great confrontations between public and private, the last of which dates back to 1993. In the 1980s and 90s, there were gigantic demonstrations: under Mitterrand when it came to giving priority to schools public (and to integrate private schools into a public service: editor’s note), or in 1990, when on the contrary it was about giving new priorities to the private sector.
Since we no longer experience large school wars, but only guerilla warfare, it seems more ‘authorized’ to move from one school to another. Today, the issue of privacy rests on the basis of social inequalities and socio-cultural diversity, and not on religious grounds. »
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