Friday, 4 February 2011

More strikes in the education system

The magnificent facade of the administration building

French teachers are planning a strike on Thursday 10th February in protest at the planned reduction in teacher numbers as of the next school year.

The strike is planned to begin in Bobigny.  Next week, students at my school will be taking their mock exams for the baccalauréat.  

16000 posts nationwide are to go nationwide next September.  According to Le Parisien 571 of those will be in the Créteil academy.  That's despite an apparent rise in the number of pupils in the academy.  The Education minister said that "quantity is not the right response to the problems in the education system".  

Around twenty of my colleagues went on strike yesterday, protesting in front of the administration building in Créteil.  Apparently the tightening will mean classes have to merge in my school.  Considering that some of the classes already have thirty of more pupils, it's not surprising that many of my colleagues are unhappy.

It's a familiar story of having to do "more with less" as cuts bite.  They don't seem anywhere near as bad as those in England where 19% is being axed on average per department.  Still, there's not much point in telling the French that things are worse elsewhere, as any cuts that are planned with always be met with fierce hostility from the CGT.

The strike was voted by those who were in the staff room earlier in the week by a show of hands.  This appeared to me rather unfair on those who weren't there.  I spoke to one teacher on Thursday who told me he wasn't fully aware that there was a strike on.  In Britain Thatcher made pre-strike ballots part of the law.  Now you won't find too much praise for Maggie on this blog (we teachers and assistants are Left wing ideologues) but it doesn't seem fair that if you didn't happen to be in the staff room at the right time, you missed the chance to have your say (although you have a right not to strike if you don't want to).  Nor did it seem right to have a public vote - if you are in a minority of one it takes courage to contradict your colleagues.   

For me though, I'm now on holiday as I'm not needed for the mock exams and then it's half term.  I'm planning to explore France a bit more, and if I do I'll post reports, photos and what not. Ciao.