Three questions related to the reports prescribed by the National Education

The growth is clear, but how to interpret it? The Ministry of National Education announced on Wednesday, November 9, that it had identified 720 reports of attacks against secularism in France in 60,000 schools, colleges and high schools in October, more than double compared to September (313 cases). In detail, 40% of incidents recorded in October were related to religious clothing and symbols, compared to 54% a month earlier.

These figures were previously reported quarterly, but their publication has been switched to a monthly rhythm since the start of the school year at the request of Minister Pap Ndiaye, who wants to provide more information. “transparency”. Franceinfo helps you decipher this data.

How are these reports collected?

As mentioned in the 2019 report of the General Inspectorate of Education, there are two main reporting tools available since 2018. A program called “Institution Facts” allows school principals and heads of institutions to inform their hierarchy. “disturbing facts”, especially in terms of secularism, which occurs within their scope. At the same time, National Education workers can report the incident directly through the “Attack on Secularism” online form without informing their superiors directly. Other referral methods are available, particularly through the “Valeurs de l’école de la République” teams.

These reports, once centralized by rectors and later by the ministry, now lead to monthly publication. Echoing Emmanuel Macron who demanded in early June, “Clearness to all numbers”Pap Ndiaye, at the beginning of the summer, justified this change of rhythm with his concern.“Have less hope for these numbers” sensitive. He also defended in October “Transparency policy that leaves nothing under the carpet”.

Since its inception, this indicator has been regularly criticized. “It is only declarative and therefore difficult to quantify the phenomenon”Iannis Roder, teacher and director of the Educational Observatory of the Jean-Jaures Foundation, believes. “You always have to think that the numbers underestimate the reality. In many cases, the numbers assume that teachers, CPEs, heads of institutions are determined to pass”, complete, in RFI, Dominic Schnapper, director of research at EHESS and president of the Council of Elders of Secularism. By contrast, a third of the reports will not correspond to a real attack on secularism, a leading academic referee in 2021 “worldliness”in Let it go.

How to explain the recent increase?

In the past, reports were generally less than 600 per quarter or 200 per month. With 313 reports in September and 720 in October, the numbers are approaching the figures obtained after the killing of Samuel Paty in October 2020, with 1,332 reports in a quarter. It was already warned by the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Prevention of Law Violations and Radicalization at the end of August. He accused this institution “Islamist Movement” put back “The principle of secularism is discussed at school”encouraging the wearing of religious clothing or encouraging prayer within the school, particularly with reference to social networks such as Twitter or TikTok.

On Wednesday, TMC gave Pap Ndiaye “three explanations” to this increase: the virality of TikTok videos, the anniversary of Samuel Paty’s murder, and our “Strongly encourages business leaders to report all accounts”. In other words, the increase in reports may be more noticeable than the increase in incidents. “There is a level of sensitivity and attention to these issues that did not exist two years ago”, the minister noted already in October. Even before coming to office, the executive power stated in December 2021 that “The culture of reporting and feedback is strengthening[ait] in terms of secularism in education.

Field reports are still sometimes a headache. “Since when do we report? A student who introduces himself at the school entrance with a yarmulke and takes it off 15 seconds later, is that a twist or not?” In October, he questioned Didier Georges, director in Paris and member of the SNPDEN-Unsa union. Let it go. “When we look at 60,000 institutions, 12 million students, we don’t have a mass growth phenomenon either”also Benoit Kermoal, national secretary in charge of secular affairs relativizes Unsa Education.

What is the government’s response?

Faced with this increase in reports, the ministry sent a circular to the rectors of the academy on Wednesday. Submitted a “four axis plan” to better protect the educational community: “To systematically and step-by-step punish the behavior of students that undermines secularism and continues even after the dialogue stage”, “enhancing personnel protection and support”, “Support business leaders during an attack”, “strengthen the training of staff and primarily school leaders”. Recall that 300,000 teachers must be trained by the end of the five-year period to be better equipped to deal with questions or provocations about secularism.

In mid-October, the Minister of the Interior, Gerald Darmanin, asked the prefects to “Supporting the education community in an invaluable response with great determination” who attacked secularism in school “It has increased since the beginning of the school year”. In Telegram, he saw this trend “The result of an Islamist attack targeting the youngest, especially by encouraging them to wear traditional clothing”. In the event of capture of the heads “The case of wearing traditional clothes in schools”they were asked to help enforce the 2004 law.

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