Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

AFRICA NEWS

Ebola in Nigeria: First death outside of Lagos

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Niger : Top Oppostion figure to be questioned in baby trafficking scandal

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Liberia: President dismisses top officials who ignored call back

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

The deleted tweets of Manuel Valls

Read more

DEBATE

How to Stop Ebola: WHO Says Cases Could Exceed 20,000 (part 2)

Read more

DEBATE

How to Stop Ebola: WHO Says Cases Could Exceed 20,000

Read more

WEB NEWS

'Ice Bucket Challenge' angers anti-abortion activists

Read more

#TECH 24

Tomorrow's Transport Today

Read more

FOCUS

Mothers and children leaving Honduras at all costs

Read more

  • French businesses ‘hoping for a new Thatcher’

    Read more

  • UN says 43 peacekeepers captured in Golan Heights

    Read more

  • Peru seizes record 6.5 tonnes of Europe-bound cocaine

    Read more

  • Russian troops have entered Ukraine, says Kiev

    Read more

  • PSG face Barcelona, Ajax in tough Champions League draw

    Read more

  • In pictures: Billions of locusts invade Madagascan capital

    Read more

  • Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie say ‘I do’ in France

    Read more

  • Erdogan sworn in as Turkey's president

    Read more

  • Assad cannot be partner in fight against terrorism, says Hollande

    Read more

  • New Ebola case in Nigeria brings death toll to 1,552

    Read more

  • Video: 'Neither Baghdad nor the US can defeat the Islamic State'

    Read more

  • Platini will not run against Blatter for FIFA presidency

    Read more

  • Air France pilots announce week-long strike in September

    Read more

  • New French economy minister takes swipe at 35-hour work week

    Read more

  • Uzi shooting by 9-year-old rekindles gun debate

    Read more

  • Mother of American journalist asks IS leader for his release

    Read more

  • UN probe accuses Syrian regime, Islamists of ‘crimes against humanity’

    Read more

  • Uruguayans sign up to grow marijuana at home

    Read more

  • Missouri governor appoints black public safety director

    Read more

France

Exam cheats send education system into turmoil

Text by Joseph BAMAT

Latest update : 2011-06-25

French Education Minister Luc Chatel wants prison sentences for those who leaked one of four baccalaureate math exam questions while critics are using the incident to reassess the entire examination process.

France’s minister of education, Luc Chatel, has vowed tough measures against those responsible for leaking one of the four questions in this year’s math baccalaureate exam, as two people have already been held for questioning.

The cheating incident is one of several in this year’s baccalaureate - a series of rigorous end-of-term exams one needs to pass in order to graduate from French secondary school and move into higher education – that have sparked a heated debate across the country.

“I hope the cheats will be punished,” Chatel told RTL radio, pledging up to three years behind bars for the culprits.

The "Bac" exams, as they are known in France, are administered at the same time across the country, with one single exam for all students and rigorous controls to prevent cheating.

But on Monday evening, on the eve of the exam, a photo of one of the math problems appeared on a video game website, France’s Education Ministry confirmed, adding that the photo was taken on a BlackBerry smartphone.

The flawed math exam was taken on Tuesday by 160,000 students. Chatel reaffirmed his decision to grade the tests based on the three remaining questions, and not invalidate it altogether, as many teacher unions and groups representing parents have demanded.

Raphael Mizrahi, a math teacher in the south-western city of Toulouse, said the leaked problem was the easiest of the four on the test, which is likely to negatively affect student’s overall scores.

“I think retaking the test would have been the best decision, the fairest, but that would be difficult and expensive to organise,” he said. On Thursday afternoon the mother of a student appealed Chatel’s decision to France’s highest administrative court.

According to Philippe Meirieu, a university professor and well-known educator in France, teachers are fighting an uphill battle against tech-savvy cheaters. “With the surge in new technologies we no longer know how to fight cheating, Meirieu told France Info radio.

Two new alleged incidents of cheating, this time the English and Physics bacs, emerged later in the week. A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Education said she could not confirm if more cheating had occurred.

The bac under examination

The compromised math exam gave credence to detractors of the baccalaureate who say the enormous weight given to the series of exams, which were first instituted more than 200 years ago, are out of touch with the times and ultimately a poor measure of acquired knowledge and skills.

“What should be under scrutiny today is the way we evaluate [students] and the organisation of the exam itself,” Philippe Tournier, a teacher's union leader told the daily Le Monde.

Many in France would prefer to see a new system that evaluates students throughout the year, and gives less weight to one final pass or fail baccalaureate. In fact, the term contrôle continu (continuous control) has become a catchphrase and battle cry for many education reformers.

However, the baccalaureate is more than just a test in France. While it is often a source of stress and even anguish to students and parents, the bac is forever revered by the French.

“[The bac] is a kind of initiation ritual, a rite of passage into adulthood for all French,” minister Chatel argued on Thursday, swearing to protect the institution. Though belonging to the reform camp, Professor Meirieu expressed a similar sentiment about the bac’s almost mythical status.

Meanwhile, other teachers defend the bac as the best way to strive for a equitable public education, one that demands and affords the same quality of learning to all citizens regardless of class or geographical location.

“It’s a standard that would not at all be the same with continuous controls,” explained Simon Perrier, a high-school philosophy teacher in the city of Chartres. “A system where each school decides its own standards would easily gloss over inequalities.”

According to Perrier, French public high-schools are not totally equal. But for the philosophy professor, the baccalaureate’s high standards exist so that students will not be cheated out of the best possible education.

Date created : 2011-06-23

  • FRANCE

    Are French students taught to be more philosophical?

    Read more

COMMENT(S)