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France

Administration, Finance, & Educational Research

The French Republic is headed by a popularly elected president who represents and serves the Nation and State. He is responsible for the country's territorial integrity and appoints the governing prime minister (following the political majority controlling the legislative National Assembly). In turn, the prime minister appoints his cabinet, who are the ministers responsible for governing the country, among whom one of the most important is the Minister of National Education. This Minister's official title is Minister of National Education, Research, and Technology. It is he who proposes policies, enjoys budgetary oversight, and directs numerous sub-ministerial political appointees (as well as myriad civil servants) subject only to the prime minister.

Constitutionally, the Minister operates within the parameters of certain fundamental laws, such as the 1875 laws governing education and Church and State. He also has the task of proposing new laws as the situation may require them. He is assisted by a large bureaucracy and permanent advisory committees whose decisions he normally accepts.

Each of the three main components of the system—primary, secondary, and higher education—has, under the Minister, its own area of competence and organizational traditions. In addition, the division of France into geographic areas known as "academies" provides input into decision-making from the diverse regions of the country.

A kind of executive chain-of-command descends from the Minister through a number of echelons down to the director of a primary school. Although each director, principal, proviseur (or lycée director), dean, university president, and academy rector heads his own bailiwick, his area of responsibility is fully integrated into a system of responsibilities headed by the Minister.

According to the latest figures publicly available (1998), the total costs of education (public and private) come globally to about FF607.3 billion (92.6 billion euros) of which FF343.3 (52.5 billion euros) are spent by the Ministry of National Education. The global figure represented 7.2 percent of the 1998 French gross national product. The difference between the global cost figure and the costs paid by the Ministry can be accounted for as follows: FF48.4 billion (7.4 billion euros) from other state ministries; FF124.3 billion (18.9 billion euros) regional, local, and territorial contributions; FF35 billion (5.3 billion euros) from business-operated training programs; FF13.5 billion (2.1 billion euros) other national administrations; and FF41.8 billion (6.4 billion euros) from family contributions. An additional FF25.1 billion (4.1 billion euros) were paid out to overseas territories and départments. The grand total was thus: FF634.4 billion (92.6 billion euros) at 1998 exchange rates. Of these sums 77.7 percent went for personnel salaries, benefits and pensions; 14.8 percent to upkeep and physical plant; and 7.5 percent to investment in future capital needs.

Further breakdowns show (in 2000-2001) a total of 528,000 persons employed in the écoles maternelles and elementary schools. Teaching staff in these schools amounted to 358,000 persons and cost per pupil amounted to FF24,700 (3,765 euros). In secondary education some 786,000 were employed, of which 508,000 were teachers; cost per pupil came to an average of FF25,000 (8300 euros). In post-baccalauréat classes the cost was FF68,900 (10,504 euros).

The Ministry of National Education provides financial aid to schoolchildren (both collège and lycée level) from families of demonstrably modest means; such aid can total as much as FF5000 per annum.

In recent years enrollments in higher education have been approximately 2 million students with a public sector teaching corps of about 75,500 professors. Yearly costs per student have ranged very widely depending on the diverse programs in which students are enrolled. Thus, the average university student in the humanities and social sciences costs approximately FF40,000 (6000 euros), whereas an engineering student costs about FF78,000 (12,000 euros).

Additional topics

Education Encyclopedia - StateUniversity.comGlobal Education ReferenceFrance - History Background, Constitutional Legal Foundations, Educational System—overview, Preprimary Primary Education, Secondary Education