Presidential election 2022: thousands of children out of school in France

Photo credit: @Maria Symchych

Children who do not go to school are mostly heard of in so-called developing countries. And yet, in France, as in many so-called developed countries, there are many children who do not attend school. In France alone, there are more than 100,000 of them, according to the School for All collective. Among them are children with disabilities, but also a majority of children living in precarious habitats (shanty towns, squats, social hotels, on the streets, etc.). France, by virtue of its constitution or the Convention on the Rights of the Child  which it ratified in 1990, is committed to making the right to education a reality for all children of school age living on its territory without condition, neither of nationality nor of residence

In practice, it is estimated that 10% children living in precarious housing (squats, social hotels, emergency accommodation), the majority of whom live in shanty towns and are not in school. In addition to the difficulties families have in understanding the education system due to the lack of educational and linguistic support mechanisms available to themThese children and their families also face administrative barriers such as administrative domiciliation or compulsory vaccination  which hinder or even prevent their schooling. The adoption of decree no. 2020-811 of 29 June 2020 (Law for a School of Confidence), which was intended to facilitate the enrolment of children in primary education by specifying the necessary supporting documents, does not prevent many town halls from still illegally opposing their enrolment. In Overseas France, particularly in French Guiana and Mayottethe rate of non-enrolment is still 8 points higher than in metropolitan France

For children and young people whose school registration is acceptedHowever, even once they are integrated into the school system, individualised and necessarily regular monitoring of their schooling remains essential if they are to remain in the system and follow normal schooling. However, their The living conditions in which they evolve and the administrative constraints in and out of school for their families remain major obstacles to any quality education: they suffer from a lack of access to basic services (in particular to a school canteen during school time), sometimes to access They have access to drinking water and regular outside care, supervised study time, leisure and extracurricular activities, but above all they are subject to racism, discrimination and frequent brutal expulsions which condemn them to being regularly out of school for long periods. How, under these conditions, can they manage to stay in school and avoid dropping out? 

Based on these observations, Aide et Action is calling on the candidates for the 2022 presidential elections to put in place urgent measures to ensure equal access to school and school registration procedures in accordance with article 16 of the law "Pour une école de la confiance", as well as a binding tool to remind mayors of their obligations regarding education and compulsory schooling (by virtue of decree no. 2020-811 of 29 June 2020). 

As already requested by many associations, including the CNDH Romeurope of which we are a member, our organisation supports the implementation of a genuine school truce This will make it possible to suspend any expulsion from a place of residence during the school year, to assert the best interests of the child and his or her family in expulsion procedures and in the breakdown of accommodation, and to guarantee the continuity of the child's schooling with all the reference points necessary for his or her development. The number of  posts from school mediators  funded by the Interministerial Delegation for Housing and Access to Housing (DIHAL) and by associations will have toit also be perpetuatedincreased especially in areas where there is a need and especially their work with children and their families and schools recognised by the National Education and all institutional actors (town halls, social servicesetc.). 

We also call for the creation of a national observatory of out-of-school children and adolescents, which would allow for an accurate assessment of the number of out-of-school children and adolescents and facilitate the implementation of a national policy on inclusive education. 

It should be noted that the creation in France of a ministry dedicated to children and young peopleThis would allow us to take into account the multiplicity of problems encountered by these children (housing, access to essential services including education, protection), to get out of the current silo logic and to provide them with a global and efficient response.

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