Page images

Relation of the state to the teaching profession.-The professors of the State facultés and of the public secondary schools (lycées and local colleges) constitute a state professional corps. The former are appointed by the President of the Republic upon the recommendation of the superior council and the minister, the latter by the minister. The service is guarded by examinations and by the requirement of a university degree which for professors of secondary schools must be at least the bachelor's degree, and for the facultés the degree of doctor. The conditions of the service, duties, penalties, etc., are carefully regulated by ministerial decree. Salaries range from $900 to $2,200 per annum in the facultés and from $420 to $1,500 in the lycées. The École Normale Supérieure, maintained by the state, is the alma mater of the most distinguished professors. The teaching service of lycées for girls is under special regulations, and a state normal school (École Normale Supérieure, Sèvres) is maintained in the interest thereof.

The teachers of primary schools must obtain a state diploma (brevet élémentaire, supérieur) awarded upon examination. This requirement had been met in 1890 by 98.6 per cent of the teachers in public primaries and by 82 per cent of those in private. Only lay persons can be employed in the public schools, a requirement now enforced in all public schools for boys. Salaries, which are paid by the state, are graded in five classes, ranging, in the elementary primaries, for men from $200 to $400, and for women from $200 to $320 per annum, in the higher primaries from $360 to $560, and in the primary normals, for men from $700 to $1,000, and for women from $600 to $1,000. Communes must provide residences and may supplement the salaries. Through the academic inspectors the state maintains a supervision over the teachers engaged in the schools, but their appointment, tenure, and discipline are in the power of the prefects, subject, however, to the advice of the departmental councils and the approval of the inspectors. Every department is legally bound to maintain two primary normal schools, one for men, another for women, or a consolidated normal school. This obligation has been fully met as regards schools for men, and in 86 out of 90 departments as regards schools for women. The state also maintains two superior normal schools to prepare professors for the departmental or primary normals.

Course of study in primary schools.-It may be added that the course of study which primary teachers must be prepared to conduct is extensive, including, besides the three elements, moral and civic instruction, the metric system, history and geography, object lessons, first notions of science, elements of drawing, singing, manual work (needlework for girls), gymnastic exercises, and, for boys, military drill. In the higher primaries the course is much like that of our nonclassical high schools, with large development on the scientific and technical sides.

Finances.-The funds for the support of this comprehensive system of public instruction are derived from state and departmental appro


priations and from a communal tax for primary schools. Tuition fees are required in facultés1 and secondary schools, but the amount so received is turned over to the public treasury, the state appropriating each year a sufficient sum for current expenditures. In all primary schools tuition is free.


The proposed state appropriation for public education (1892) is 172,924,627 francs ($34,584,925), of which 73 per cent is for primary education, 11 per cent for secondary, 8.8 for superior, 2.2 for administration, and 5 per cent miscellaneous.2 The total expenditure for public primary schools (infant included) in 1890 was 162,681,805 francs ($32,536,361). Of this, 64.7 per cent was contributed by the state and the balance by the communes. The marked increase in the relative proportion derived from the state (it was 50.6 per cent in 1889, as against 64.7 in 1890) is due to the fact that the state has assumed the responsibility of paying the salaries of teachers. The expenditure was equivalent to $6.68 per capita of enrollment for the year specified (i. e., 1890). Although every part of the educational system of France has been developed by the Republic, the primary schools have been its especial care. The progress of these schools is therefore properly regarded as an index of the strength and spirit of the Government. The universal interest which the history of this department excites gives importance to the following exposition of its development from a recent work by M. E. Levasseur:




The government of Louis Philippe, outcome of a revolution, ought from the outset to have shown itself favorable to popular education. It was not, however, until after the failure of several projects that M. Guizot secured the passage of a law, June 28, 1833, which was, in a certain sense, the fundamental charter of primary instruction in France. This law imposed upon every commune the obligation to maintain an elementary primary school and provided for the support of the school by an extra tax of 3 centimes in addition to the three direct taxes. It fixed a minimum of 300 francs ($60) for the salary of the teacher, who had, moreover, the right to school fees paid by the parents who were not indigent. The law provided for the free instruction of the indigent


By a decree of July 25, 1885, the facultés were empowered to receive, hold, and administer property, a right conferred upon them at the time of their constitution (1801), but suspended in 1875. The work of organizing the facultés of each acadé mie into organic bodies is in progress. The bill for converting them into distinct universities is before the chambers.

2 Rapport sur le budget général de l'exercice, 1892, par M. Charles Dupuy, pp. 122125.

3 Résumé des états de situation de l'enseignement primaire, 1890-91, p. 123, and

Table 23.

classes, the expenses of the same being equitably distributed among a series of authorities extending from the family to the state. Wherever communal resources were inadequate for this purpose, they were to be supplemented by subventions from the departments not exceeding a levy of two additional centimes, and if need be, by subventions from the public treasury. The law also created higher primary instruction (enseignement primaire supérieur) and primary normal schools. Under the influence of this law 2,275 schools were opened in a year, 450,000 new pupils were there enrolled, and 15 normal schools were founded.

The law of 1833 provided only for schools for boys. An ordinance of 1836 extended the same advantages to girls, without, however, imposing upon the communes, as the law had done, the necessary expenses. In 1848 the number of pupils enrolled had reached a total of 3,500,000. This was an increase of 31 per cent over the enrollment in 1837, date of the first general statistics of primary schools. It was equivalent very nearly to 10 pupils for every 100 inhabitants. The revolution of February, 1848, gave rise to new projects. The Republicans demanded gratuitous and obligatory instruction. The legislative assembly, however, prompted by the conservative and religious party, passed the law of March 15, 1850, which proclaimed "liberty of instruction," made the maintenance of schools for girls obligatory, suppressed several useful creations of the law of 1833, and opened wider the gates to clerical instruction (enseignement congréganiste).

The second Empire, which at first showed some suspicion of the teachers, finally improved their salaries somewhat, and afterward, under the ministry of M. Duruy, passed the law of April 10, 1867, which provided for an extension of free instruction and imposed upon every commune having at least 500 inhabitants the obligation to maintain a separate school for girls.

In 1872, after the tempest which overwhelmed the Empire, the primary schools of France, reduced in number by the loss of Alsace-Lorraine, enrolled 4,722,000 pupils. The increase since 1837 had been 75 per cent. The third republic has not displayed less zeal than the first in behalf of primary instruction, but, more concerned with practical applications than the first republic, has manifested her zeal by acts. Recognizing that public instruction, useful under all governments, is indispensable under a democracy, and that it is not only a benefit to the people who receive it, but a powerful instrument of political discipline for the government which gives it, the Republic has desired that the state should become the master of schools in order to develop in this double interest a system of education more widely distributed and conceived in the spirit of republicanism.

Diverse projects have been successively discussed in the parliaments since 1871. They have resulted in a series of laws, nearly all passed during the presidency of M. Grévy, and the most important under the ministry of M. Ferry.


would have been more economical to have proceeded more slowly and with sole regard to pedagogic interests. But I am departing from my subject in treating of these matters.

What seems to be certain and what it is important to consider here, is the fact that a vigorous impulse has been given to primary instruction by these measures taken together, i. e., the creation of schools, the division of large classes, the increase in the number of teachers, the attention given to their preparation, the improvement of material appliances, by the emulation even which has been excited between the laity and religious orders, in fine by the increase of the school attendance of both sexes. From 1872 to 1889 the number of schools increased by 11,000 and that of their teachers by more than 22,000; the number of church private schools increased by more than 3,000, while the private lay schools diminished, being ruined and paralyzed between the two great powers, church and state. The number of pupils entered upon the registers of schools of all classes during the same period rose from 4,722,000 to 5,623,000 (Algiers not included).

Since 1837, in fifty-years that is, the number of pupils has more than doubled, although the population of France, including the European population of Algiers, has gained during the same time only 13 per cent. La population française, par M. E. Levasseur, Tome 2, pp. 481-485.)

Although the primary school attendance of France increased by 19 per cent from 1872 to 1889, the last five years of this period shows a decrease amounting to 10,009 pupils or a little less than two-tenths per cent. Small as this diminution is, the fact has excited attention and given rise to many explanations. M. Levasseur has made an exhaustive analysis of the statistics bearing upon this point with the following results:

The decrease noted is attributable wholly to the public primaries, which lost from 1884-85 to 1889-90 a total of 127,487 pupils as against a gain of 117,478 in private primaries. The absolute loss (10,009) is explained by the decrease of the school population (of age 6 to 13). From estimates based upon the census of 1886 and the ratio of births 1874 to 1880, M. Levasseur concludes that the school population fell from 4,729,000 in 1885 to 4,663,000 in 1890, a decline of 66,000, or a little more than 1 per cent. This it is seen is ample to cover the decline of less than two-tenths per cent in school attendance. The analysis of the statistics by departments confirms this view. For twelve departments which have lost each more than 2,500 pupils, M. Levasseur's estimates give a decline of 42,325 in school population. The census of 1891 fur

maximum has been 45,529 francs ($9,105) for the Rhone, and the minimum 7,982 fraucs ($1,592) for the Lozère. These buildings are not all of the same dimensions; the place for a pupil, which furnishes the most precise term of comparison, has cost on an average 306 francs ($61), the Seine not included, with a maximum of 480 francs ($96) Eure-et-Loir, and a minimum of 135 francs ($27) Vendée.

« PreviousContinue »