Tuesday, March 21, 2006

L'état c'est nous (The Boys)

From France: Pity the Students, by Paul Belien.

France is dying. We are witnessing its agony, while the patient refuses to take the medicine that can cure him.
He is referring to the CPE (Contract Premier Embauche, or First Employment Contract) and gives an utterly depressing account of why this is happening. It could be summed up in 4 words: they never had Thatcher.

What he says about the lack of upward mobility in France tells you a lot about why Blair has tried to push certain reforms in this country. He quotes Australian author Joel Shepherd.
"There’s just no damn jobs. White college grads can’t get jobs, what hope do immigrants from regions with bad schools have? […] They can’t change schools to get a better education because the government says you have to go to the school where you live, and they live where they do because of the zoning laws... which I’m no expert about, but I do know that the government owns 30 percent of all housing in France, and poor immigrants basically live where they’re told."
Not only is your school dictated by your address.
In general students are not even free to choose their university, but have to go to the one nearest to where they live.
And the universities are second-rate by definition. It is the grandes écoles, such as the ENA, the École nationale d’administration, that count. In fact, they count so much that every major French politician, except Sarkozy, is an old boy of one of them. They are l'état, and it is l'état that commands. Left and Right are united on this. The word 'libertarian' just doesn't translate.

Belien explains, as well, why the CPE was passed with such a large majority and makes a cruel comparison with the prospects for American graduates.

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