Double evolution in the relationship between Catholic education and the State. In his back-to-school speech on September 22, Philippe Delorme, general secretary of Catholic education, underlines the financial difficulties to come for Catholic establishments hit by the crisis. He calls for the “commitment” of the state and the end of “discrimination”. But he also underlines the complete adherence of Catholic education to the educational reform carried out by Emmanuel Macron. What the president wants to do in the public is after all what Catholic education is already doing…
The weight of the crisis
“We are very worried. Public authorities will have to accompany us”. Private Catholic establishments under contract are beginning to lose students. At the start of the 2022 school year, 18,000 students are missing, or 1%, divided between first and second degree. This also concerns higher education, in particular the BTS with 6,000 fewer students. Among the factors explaining this decline is the demographic crisis. But also the first repercussions of the economic crisis with in particular the increase in the price of half board.
But the worst is ahead. Catholic establishments will be affected by the rise in energy prices. Philippe Delorme cites as an example a primary school whose energy bill will increase from €20,000 to €200,000. The crisis also concerns school catering, which does not benefit from public subsidies. It is therefore the families who will have to follow the increase and the SGEC fears the departure of some of the pupils. “Faced with the difficulties, a large number of families have given up enrolling their children in our establishments”, explains P Delorme.
The solution is of course the help of the State and local authorities. “I call for a renewed commitment from the public authorities alongside our establishments, the families who choose them… I am not begging. I am talking about equity”, says P Delorme. He prefers to speak of measures against the “discrimination” of which he says he is a victim in the Catholic school. “Discrimination for catering” declares P Delorme because pupils in private establishments under contract do not generally benefit from the same financial aid from local authorities as those from the public. “Discrimination in school transport”, for the same reasons. Catholic education also asks to benefit from the tariff shield of public schools for its energy expenditure.
Support for the reform of E Macron
“The commitment of the actors” is also what Catholic education reads in Emmanuel Macron’s educational reform. “I say” let’s go “, “banco” I even say “chick”, applauds P Delorme. Because the Macron reform “this is how we have always tried to operate with management centered on the establishment”, “All in all, the school project, the recruitment of teachers by the head of the school, the margin of autonomy in the organization of school time, the presence of special lessons in the name of one’s own character, the independent financial management of each establishment it is this model that E Macron wants to generalize in the public.
The SGEC sees the Macron reform as an opportunity to go even further in the management of establishments. For example in “the layout of the year”. Asked by the Educational Café about the influence of the Catholic model on the Macron reform, P Delorme replied that “it will not be the first time that we have been inspired by our way of doing things”. “I am a sharer,” he says.
Sharer up to a point. While P Ndiaye says he puts social diversity at the top of his concerns, Catholic education, where social segregation reigns, feels targeted. If it is associated with local support contracts and therefore with priority education since last year, with 14 establishments at this start of the school year, Catholic education is reframing things. “We will never accept sectorization contrary to the principle of freedom of choice for families”, says P Delorme. Nor the quotas deemed “ineffective”. P Delorme speaks of a “red line” for these two points. Catholic education will therefore be kept outside of social mix policies.
But it is the impact of the crisis that will be the great challenge of the year for Catholic education. JM Blanquer made him benefit from the support of his kindergartens with compulsory education at 3 years old. According to P Delorme, this would have cost the State at least 60 million, perhaps more. In osmosis with the vision of the School of the President of the Republic, Catholic education requires new support. It could go fast…