Uncertainty clouds bac choices for students in France

Education reforms in France have prompted strikes and protests

Pupils in their first year in lycée have until the end of June to choose their options for the new-look bac, which changes the system of education for 15-18-year-olds.

But they are making these choices in a climate of uncertainty, with parents’ associations and teacher unions calling for the government to stop the reforms or, at least, postpone them.

In recent months there have been strikes and demonstrations by teachers, parents and students about this – so what are the concerns?

Until now, pupils have had a choice of three types of academic baccalauréat: science (S), social economics (ES) or literature (L), which still included subjects such as maths, French, history and languages.

With the reforms, pupils will, in theory, be able to choose three subjects from a potential 17, ranging from physics and chemistry to literature and philosophy, with seven arts subjects, including dance and circus.

They will drop one of these in their third year to specialise in just two subjects. Students can add one option in première (the second year of lycée) and another in terminale (the third and final year).

All pupils face lessons in French, philosophy, history and geography, civic and moral education, two foreign languages, sport and general sciences, but no maths, which critics say is a mistake. For technical and professional bacs, subjects will depend on the bac chosen ...

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