France to re-format 2020 high school 'Bac' exam due to coronavirus

File photo of French Education Jean-Michel Blanquer who announced on April 3, 2020 that the "Bac" exams would be re-formatted due to the coronavirus outbreak.
File photo of French Education Jean-Michel Blanquer who announced on April 3, 2020 that the "Bac" exams would be re-formatted due to the coronavirus outbreak. © AFP Archive

France will change the format of this year's high-school baccalaureate exam – popularly dubbed the 'Bac' – due to concerns over the coronavirus, said the country's Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer on Friday.

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Blanquer said in a televised address that the traditional exam would be replaced by other means such as regular progress checks in areas such as coursework and homework, and that France would ramp up classes in June to make up for lost time.

French schools and universities have been shut since early March as part of a nationwide lockdown to contain the spread of the coronavirus. Blanquer added that a return of pupils to schools in early May was just a "hypothesis" for now.

The baccalaureate, a high stress test that makes national news every year, is an important rite of passage in France.

Introduced by Napoleon in 1808, the Bac has been adapted over the years. It now includes three different categories: professional, focused on trades like carpentry; technological, which is centered on computer sciences; and the general baccalaureate.

A majority of students take the general baccalaureate, for which they must choose between three tracks: Literature (L), Economic and Social Sciences (ES), or Science and Maths (S).

The centrepiece of the exam every year is the first and perhaps the hardest subject: philosophy. Questions can range from "Is it possible to escape time?" to "Does one sacrifice freedom by recognising one's duties?" and are widely discussed across the nation. 

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS)

 

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