Does a Minister of Education have to enroll his children in public education?

It is the ransom of fame. Every act and gesture of the new Education Minister, Pap Ndiaye, is now under scrutiny. Even more so by his opponents, mostly from the far right, who denounce his appointment. In a portrait dedicated to him on May 26, Paris match revealed that Pap Ndiaye’s two children were educated at the Alsatian School, in the 6th arrondissement of Paris. Information shared on Twitter by Eric Zemmour, who was quick to spot a contradiction between a man who fights against discrimination but who “placed his children in an elite private school”.

The far right was not alone in criticizing the choice of the minister and his companion for their children. What moved the journalists of the Parisian to ask him a question about it during an interview published Saturday. Pap Ndiaye indicates that his children were trained in REP + before going to the Ecole alsacienne. While justifying his approach: “There are moments that, in the development of the child, can be complicated. It is the choice of parents of children for whom the conditions for a serene and happy schooling were no longer met at a certain moment. Words that don’t always seem to be well received by priority education teachers.

Not a new controversy

Pap Ndiaye is not the first minister of education to have controversy over his education choices. “In 2002, the then Minister of Education, Luc Ferry, stated that his three children were enrolled in a private Catholic school in western Paris,” recalls education historian Yann Forestier. Previously, François Bayrou, who held this position between 1993 and 1997, had the World those of his six children, “three were then in public school, and three in private school”.

More recently, in 2015, Najat Vallaud-Belkacem reported on BFMTV“My children are clearly being raised in public”. She was responding to a controversy falsely launched by Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, who claimed his children were enrolled in a private school. Also about these children questioned by Léa Salamé during the Grande issue on February 15, 2018, Jean-Michel Blanquer had replied: “I have three quarters of them in public”.

Own choice or symbolic decision?

So, is the decision for a minister of education to send his children to public or private education a private matter? Or should it be brought to the attention of the public? Najat Vallaud-Belkacem had decided. “And then? In France there is freedom of education. That some choose to keep their children private is their decision and their choice. On the trade union side, we remain cautious on the issue: “We don’t want to argue about it We’d rather debate substantive matters,” says a unionist who prefers to remain anonymous, especially since Pap Ndiaye was not a political figure before and he had no intention of deregistering his children from the private sector during the year. , let alone a few weeks before summer vacation.

But even if they don’t want to dwell on the issue, and especially don’t want to target the new minister, some education actors still point to the symbol: “In principle, we can believe that our political leaders should have an exemplary duty by children in public education. It is a way of showing that the minister believes in the policies pursued,” said Eric Labastie, president of the FCPE. “It is preferable for a minister of education to educate his children in the public sector , because this shows his confidence in the institution, otherwise it can contribute to reinforcing false representations, with the false idea that a child will have better learning conditions in the private sector,” said the trade unionist.

“We have many more important files on the table”

If the subject comes up at the moment, according to Yann Forestier, it is mainly because of the surprise of the appointment of Pap Ndiaye: “He is the left guarantor of the new government. His appointment is mainly a matter of communication. This information can therefore weaken the image of the minister, who is all the more noticed when he has not yet taken any real action. And the fact that his children attend Alsatian school accentuates the sounding board effect. “This establishment has a reputation of being a ghetto of the rich, an extremely protected universe. This insinuates the idea that private education is a remedy for the inadequacy of the public. Especially when a child encounters difficulties during his education,’ continues the historian.

One thing is certain, according to observers from the education world: this criticism will soon disappear. “We have many more important issues on the table. Such as the remuneration of teachers and the crisis of vocations in national education,” emphasizes the trade unionist. “If we are no longer in expectation, this information will no longer be a highlight,” adds Yann Forestier.

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