Appointment of Gabriel Attal as Head of the French Government: the upcoming “Civic Rearmament” of Education

Elisabeth Borne handed over her office to Gabriel Attal at an official ceremony in Paris © Ludovic MARIN / POOL/AFP


ON 9th of January 2024, Gabriel Attal took over from the resigned Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne, becoming the youngest Prime Minister in modern French political history at the age of 34. His political journey includes roles such as Secretary of State for the Minister of National Education and Youth, Government Spokesperson, Minister Delegate for Public Accounts, and Minister of National Education and Youth. Known for his steadfast loyalty to President Emmanuel Macron, Attal’s ascent began during Macron’s first presidential campaign in 2017. Prior to his government position, he served as the spokesperson for the presidential party ‘La République en Marche’ from 2016 to 2018. Despite this, Attal’s background as a technocrat reveals a departure from France’s previous educational policies.

In his inaugural speech, Attal emphasized the pivotal role of education in his governance: “I bring the cause of education with me here to Matignon (the seat of the French government). I reaffirm education as the cornerstone of our priorities, committing to provide all necessary means for its success as Prime Minister.” In France, government actions closely align with the President’s directives, and Macron’s New Year wishes had hinted at a 2024 educational policy focused on restoring student levels, teacher authority, and the strength of secular and republican teaching. Macron called for a “civic rearmament” (réarmement civique) emphasizing the importance of France’s culture, History, language, and universal values from an early age. This sets the stage for a new educational policy led by Gabriel Attal, marked by a conservative and reactionary approach, departing from the tradition of intellectual emancipation.

Education holds a central place in French politics, reflected in its substantial budget allocation. The significance given to education is tied to the construction of French republican identity. While historically, French teachers held influential positions, Attal’s vision shifts towards a didactic model, prioritizing basic skills over intellectual emancipation. His appointment signifies a conservative and reactionary offensive, aiming to instill notions of order and authority in a perceived insolent and uncultured youth. The crisis in the French education system, driven by budgetary constraints and a shortage of resources, is met with a call for order, discipline, and a quasi-military approach.

In France, the issue of education and national education is a central political question, making it one of the most significant and powerful non-sovereign ministries due to the budget allocated to educational policies. The importance given to education in the country is closely linked to the construction of French republican identity. French teachers historically held influential positions in the cities where they taught. The school is seen as a place of intellectual emancipation, where the valeurs de la République (literally the “values of the Republic”) are learned, and citizenship and secularism are taught. The modern French Nation-State has historically centered around the school, with the teacher playing a crucial role in shaping the republican French identity. By the end of the 19th century, when education in France became widespread, free, and mandatory, teachers were officially tasked with promoting intellectual emancipation and instilling values aligned with the republican regime. The principles of liberty, equality, and fraternity were made possible through national education and the efforts of teachers. The appointment of Gabriel Attal, a young technocrat in his thirties who has previously held significant positions in the Ministry of National Education, symbolizes much for Emmanuel Macron. This nomination reveals the president’s intent to reshape the history of education in France and discipline French schoolchildren. Macron aims to replace the values of freedom (of speech, thought), equality (the right to emancipation), and fraternity (collective work) with notions of order and discipline based solely on individual merit. This reflects the belief that not all individuals are entitled to the same level of emancipation. The new government aims not to encourage intellectual emancipation but rather the learning of basic skills (i.e., reading, writing, counting, respecting others); a school of order and respect rather than a school that teaches critical thinking.

Therefore, Gabriel Attal’s appointment as the Head of the Government represents a conservative and reactionary offensive, aiming to instill notions of order and authority in a youth perceived as insolent, uncultured, and incapable. The crisis facing the French school system is a reality due to budgetary constraints, lack of infrastructure, and a shortage of teaching staff. However, the new government responds to this crisis with calls for order, blind obedience, and strict, almost military, discipline. Gabriel Attal advocates a reactionary vision of society, where youth should be tamed rather than emancipated. Independent thinking is considered dangerous by a reactionary power. As Secretary of State for the Minister of National Education and Youth, he supported the militarization of youth with the creation of the Universal National Service, reminiscent of both scouting and military service. The Universal National Service he championed ended up combining the least appealing elements of scouting and military service for schoolchildren: arbitrary discipline, flag-raising rituals, and cross-country running in the woods. As Minister of National Education and Youth, he prohibited the wearing of abbayas and qamis in educational institutions. He used the argument of secularism (in France, schools must be secular, and the wearing of conspicuous religious symbols is prohibited) to deliberately and disproportionately target female Muslim students. He gained attention for emphasizing announcements, such as solemnly announcing the reinstatement of mathematics courses in high schools, even though it was his predecessor, whom he had advised, who had removed them. When the 2022 PISA rankings were released, he praised the so-called “Singaporean” learning method and aimed to extend it to all educational institutions in France, despite its existing presence. This pedagogical approach, based on the “Concrete-Imaginary-Abstract” method, is not unfamiliar to French teachers. However, its widespread implementation requires substantial financial resources and, more importantly, significantly higher teacher training than is currently provided. As a minister, Attal only implemented the promotion of textbooks favoring the “concrete-imaginary-abstract” method and lowered the entry level for teaching exams to a bachelor’s degree instead of a master’s degree. While he was minister, teacher job cuts persisted, and on average, it takes 27.6 days to fill a teaching position out of the 3,100 vacancies – a timeframe unseen since the early 2000s. Nevertheless, Minister Attal persisted in grandstanding, advocating for a “shock of knowledge” (chocs des savoirs) and asserting that all absent teachers would be systematically replaced. Attal’s announcements were mere rhetoric, and no concrete measures were ultimately implemented to genuinely improve the performance of French students. The most noteworthy and concerning aspect is the establishment of academic-level-based working groups at the secondary school level. Initiating work groups based on academic levels not only reinforces but also worsens school segregation. Sorting students into groups according to their academic performance essentially means sidelining those who are less academically proficient. Although this reform has been announced but not yet put into practice, with Gabriel Attal now serving as Prime Minister, the implementation of school segregation seems inevitable.

Attal’s background, hailing from an affluent segment of French society, attending a private school, and lacking direct experience in public schools, raises questions about his suitability for leading educational policy. Attal comes from one of the wealthiest segments of the French population, growing up in the upscale 6th arrondissement of Paris, in an affluent family of notables, becoming a millionaire at the age of twenty upon his father’s death. Attal attended the highly selective Ecole Alsacienne, a private school where he completed his entire education. He served as Secretary to the Minister of National Education and Youth and later as Minister of National Education without ever setting foot in a public school. Now, as the head of the government, he prioritizes education. While receiving a private education does not preclude one from working at the Ministry of Public Education, never having shown interest in the subject before and lacking any competence in educational policy is undeniably a handicap, if not a problem. Attal has never truly worked; he only completed a six-month internship at the prestigious Villa Médicis – the French School of Rome – after earning a lackluster master’s degree through remedial exams before joining ministerial cabinets and Macron’s campaign. He is primarily a technocrat without talent, except for his innate and real abilities to court the powerful. Macron’s priority was to replace his Prime Minister with a shallow and unremarkable technocrat, essentially someone who would not overshadow him. Attal is infinitely loyal to President Macron; to whom he owes his entire political career.

As the youngest Prime Minister in contemporary French history, Gabriel Attal’s appointment strengthens Macron’s influence on the government. Macron’s authoritarian approach aims to accelerate a “civic rearmament”, reinforcing discipline and order in schools. Attal’s role as Prime Minister signals a continuation of his superficial measures and an educational policy that leans towards a more conservative and authoritarian direction. The France envisioned by Macron and shaped by Attal prioritizes a workforce of educated yet docile individuals, rather than fostering intellectual emancipation. Attal’s goals are to shape disciplined workers, not strikers; precarious workers, not emancipated ones. To shape a class that remains docile.


Universal Periodic Review of North Macedonia

This report drafted by Broken Chalk contributes to the fourth cycle of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) for the Republic of North Macedonia. This report focuses exclusively on human rights issues in North Macedonia’s education field.

  • The Balkan country of North Macedonia has made remarkable educational progress since gaining independence in 1991. Despite a decade of complicated development in the years following independence, due firstly to the conflicts in former Yugoslavia and Kosovo and then to tensions with Bulgaria and Greece over its own identity, North Macedonia has developed a more proactive policy over the past decade. The country is one of the founders of the Open Balkan Initiative, which aims to bring the countries of the southern Balkans closer together economically and culturally. The improvement in bilateral relations with Greece in 2018, with the Prespa agreements, has raised hopes of reducing regional tensions. This new climate is favourable for creating new initiatives to strengthen cooperation in culture and education. A few Erasmus programs are offered between North Macedonian and other European universities. University exchanges with neighbouring countries, including members of the Open Balkans initiative and the European Union, are the best way to reduce tensions in the Western Balkans by bringing young people together in dialogue.
  • The country’s literacy rate, although below the European Union average (98.7%), is ahead of other developed countries such as Greece (97.7%) and Singapore (96.8%). 2002, the literacy rate was 96%, compared with 98.1% in 2015. The female literacy rate rose from 90.93% in 1994 to 96.70% twenty years later in 2014. In addition to these results, public spending on education fell from 3. 30% in 2002 to 3.7% in 2016. Moreover, in general, the education budget in North Macedonia has systematically lost since it gained independence in 1991 (4.7% of GDP in 1992). Education is compulsory from the age of 6 up to 15, which is lower than in Western European countries, where schooling lasts, on average, until the age of 16 [i]. School dropout rates vary from one category of the population to another. North Macedonia is ethnically diverse: 26% Albanian, 3.41% Turkish-speaking and 2.53% Roma. The Roma are the primary school dropout victims despite forming only a small ethnic minority.
  • The North Macedonian curriculum is similar to that of OECD countries. Higher education and research and development have received little attention from the North Macedonian public authorities: the budget for higher education has fallen from 1.1% in 2010 to 0.8% in 2021. Higher education is neither free nor fully covered by the state. Students are eligible for grants based not on income but on academic performance. Students are categorised into “state-funded” or “self-funded” groups based on their prior academic performance. State-funded students, representing high-achieving individuals, contribute partially to their education costs and pay administrative fees. Special exemptions exist for disadvantaged groups like disabled individuals, unemployed youths, and security force families, and their number is capped. Self-funded students follow a fixed tuition fee model. Similar fees are applied to students in short-cycle higher education programs. So, even if this system is meritocratic in principle, it excludes students whose families do not have the means to pay for private tuition or don’t attach much importance to reading or culture. [ii]

By Camille Boblet-Ledoyen

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[i] European Commission, “Republic of North Macedonia: Organisation of the education system and structure”, Eurydice Network, 9 June 2022.

[ii] OECD, “The education system in the Republic of North Macedonia”, OECD Reviews of Evaluation and Assessment in Education: North Macedonia, June 2019.

[iii] UPR Database, “Recommendations received by North Macedonia”, Cycle 2 (2012 – 2016). 

[iv] Minority Rights, “Minorities and indigenous peoples in Macedonia: Roma”, October 2020.

[v] World Bank, “North Macedonia Needs to Continue Investing in Education and Health to Improve Its Human Capital”, Press release, September 16th, 2020.

[vi] Staletović, Branimir; Pollozhani, Lura, “To resist or not to resist: “Skopje 2014” and the politics of contention in North Macedonia”, East European Politics, November 2022.

[vii] Eurostat, “Enlargement countries – statistics on research and development”, May 2023.

[viii] European Parliament, “Artificial Intelligence: threats and opportunities”, June 2023.

[ix] Elena Kjosevska and Sanja Proseva, “Mental health in schools in Republic of North Macedonia”, SHE Assembly, June 3rd, 2021.

[x] UNICEF, “Exploring the interplay between wellbeing and academic attainment of children”, conference in Skopje, 9 March 2022.

[xi] Aldrup, Karen; Carstensen, Bastian; Klusmann, Uta, “Is Empathy the Key to Effective Teaching? A Systematic Review of Its Association with Teacher-Student Interactions and Student Outcomes”, Educational Psychology Review, March 2022.

Cover image by Nato North Atlantic Treaty Organization via flickr

University of Kent to close its Brussels campus

Written by Camille Boblet—Ledoyen

Photo by Tomica S. on Unsplash

The news of the closure of the University of Kent’s Brussels campus, without prior warning or consultation, for the June 2024 deadline, took not only the students and professors of the institute by surprise but also the entire academic world. This very damaging decision risks relegating the University to a national or even regional rank. More generally, it is one of the many signs of the decline of the United Kingdom from a world power to a middle power.

The Brussels School of International Studies (BSIS) is a graduate school of the University of Kent, located in Brussels, Belgium. It was established in 1998 as a joint venture between the University of Kent and the Institute for European Studies (IES) of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB). BSIS offers a range of interdisciplinary master’s degree programmes in international relations, conflict analysis, development, and law, as well as a PhD program. BSIS provides a unique learning experience for students worldwide, focusing on international affairs and European integration. The faculty comprises internationally renowned experts in their fields who engage in cutting-edge research and teach courses that cover a wide range of topics, including global governance, human rights, international security, and conflict resolution.

The importance of the Brussels campus makes the decision to close it all the more regrettable. By deciding to close its campus by June 2024, the University of Kent risks weakening its position and glowing reputation in a lasting way. Students from the Brussels campus will probably not move to Canterbury and will choose not to continue their studies at the University. As the United Kingdom is a non-member of the European Union, leaving Brussels for Canterbury is all the more complex and difficult. The University of Kent’s location in Brussels, a city of European and NATO institutions, was a wise choice, and its closure means that it loses the international dimension that made it so attractive. The university administration says budget costs and inflation are responsible for the decision. Broken Chalk regrets that education and empowerment are the primary victims of austerity policies. The closure of such a strategic campus not only for the University of Kent but for the British educational model is simply beyond the academic realm. The British government should accompany and financially support its universities for its own influence, for its attractiveness, and to finally remain a global power. A country that does not invest in education is a country doomed to decline – and deserve to.

To paraphrase Richard III: “A university! My Kingdom for a University!”

Educational Challenges in Denmark

Written by Camille BOBLET—LEDOYEN

“Yes, Denmark may have the laurel of the happiest country in the world, but that does not mean that, as in every capitalist economy, everybody is happy.”[1]

Michael Roberts, 2022.

Education is a vital pillar of a nation’s development, and Denmark is renowned for its strong commitment to providing high-quality education. However, like any other country, Denmark faces its own challenges within its educational system. This article will explore the significant academic challenges that Denmark has encountered, examining their causes and potential solutions. The challenges facing the Danish education system undermine the idea of an open, inclusive society promoted in the 1980s and 1990s: the complex integration of ethnic minorities living in urban ghettos (Human Right Watch, 2021)[2]; the gradual deconstruction of the welfare state, to which Helle Thorning-Schmitt’s left-wing government made a major contribution between 2011 and 2014; a growing school malaise, with a school population that is either dropping out or depressed. Today, Denmark remains divided between two main trends: historical isolationism, which has seen Denmark withdraw from the European concert in recent centuries, skeptical of European integration (along with France, Denmark was one of the countries to reject the 2005 Lisbon Treaty in a referendum); progressive integration, with a membership of NATO and the Common Market, and the promotion of economic liberalism. The issue of migrant reception crystallizes this division in Danish society: the current government’s desire to transfer asylum seekers to a “third country” is a sign that historical isolationism is gaining ground.

Children attend support lessons. Photo by Magnus Fröderberg

Education System

Denmark’s education system has witnessed ongoing debates regarding assessment methods and standardization. Critics argue that the emphasis on standardized testing and rigid curriculum frameworks can limit teachers’ autonomy and creativity, leading to a narrow focus on exam preparation. There is a growing recognition of the need for a more holistic approach to assessment, encompassing students’ diverse skills and abilities. Recent reforms have aimed to reduce the reliance on high-stakes testing and promote more formative and individualized assessment practices.

Classes in Denmark generally have no more than twenty pupils, and schools are financed by local taxes, which can lead to greater or lesser territorial disparity. The 2013 reform increased school hours from 21 to 30 per week, and teachers were encouraged to spend more time at school. The April 2013 reform took place against a backdrop of strikes but finally came into force at the start of the September 2014 school year. The difficulties encountered by public schools (longer working hours for teachers with no salary compensation, a curriculum that depends on the region) have favoured private schools: today, 15% of Danish pupils attend private classes.[3].

Smooth transitions between different educational levels can significantly impact student success. Denmark faces challenges in ensuring a seamless transition from primary to secondary education and from secondary to higher education or vocational training. Inconsistencies in curriculum alignment, lack of guidance and counselling, and limited cooperation between educational institutions have been identified as obstacles. Efforts to enhance coordination, establish clear pathways, and provide comprehensive support during transitional phases are essential to address this challenge.

Also, while Denmark has made significant progress in digitalizing its education system, there are still challenges to overcome. Access to digital resources, teacher professional development, and the digital divide among students require attention. Ensuring equitable access to technology, providing training to educators, and integrating digital tools effectively into the curriculum are crucial steps to harness the potential of technology in enhancing learning outcomes.

While Denmark offers free tuition for Danish and EU/EEA students, there are still financial considerations and costs associated with higher education. While tuition fees are generally covered for Danish and EU/EEA students, the cost of living can be a significant financial burden. Expenses such as accommodation, food, transportation, and study materials can add up, particularly for students who need to relocate or live in high-cost areas such as Copenhagen. These living expenses can create challenges for students from low-income backgrounds. Non-EU/EEA students are required to pay tuition fees to study in Denmark. These fees can vary depending on the institution, program, and level of study. The tuition fees for non-EU/EEA students can be substantial, making it difficult for some individuals to afford higher education in Denmark. However, it is essential to note that Denmark offers a range of scholarships and grants to support international students, mitigating some of the financial barriers. Finding affordable and suitable housing can be challenging for students, especially in cities with high rental prices. Accommodation costs can consume a significant portion of a student’s budget, leaving limited funds for other essential expenses. To address this issue, Denmark provides student housing options at affordable rates through housing associations, student dormitories, and rental subsidies. However, the demand for student housing often exceeds the available supply, creating additional challenges for students.

Mental Health

The mental health of Danish schoolchildren is a major concern. According to a report by the Human Practice Foundation and a second by the OECD (Learning Compass 2030),

“The treatment of children with stress increased by 900% from 1995-2015. Studies also show a clear correlation between children who are unhappy/discontented and absenteeism/learning patterns. This contributes to the fact that in 2018 32% of Danish students nationally were not deemed ready for higher education in eighth grade and that in 2019 10% of the students in the ninth grade did not complete the primary school’s mandatory exams.”[4]

The significant increase in the treatment of children with stress suggests a growing prevalence of stress-related issues among Danish students. Factors such as academic pressure, social expectations, and personal challenges contribute to heightened stress levels. These stressors can impact students’ well-being, engagement, and academic performance. The statistic indicating that 32% of Danish students were not deemed ready for higher education in eighth grade highlights a significant challenge in preparing students for future educational pursuits. This readiness is crucial for smooth transitions and successful academic trajectories beyond primary school. Factors such as academic preparation, skill development, and socio-emotional well-being play a role in students’ readiness for higher education.

A reading room in the State and University Library (Statsbiblioteket- now Royal Danish Library) in Aarhus, Denmark. Photo by ©Villy Fink Isaksen, Wikimedia Commons, License cc-by-sa-4.0

Socio-economic Disparities

One significant challenge in Danish education is socioeconomic disparities, which can impact student achievement and perpetuate social inequality. Research has shown that students from disadvantaged backgrounds tend to have lower educational outcomes compared to their more privileged counterparts. Factors such as parental education, income, and cultural capital play a crucial role in shaping a student’s educational trajectory. To address this challenge, Denmark has implemented various initiatives, including targeted support programs for vulnerable students, increased access to early childhood education, and reforms aimed at reducing educational inequality.

Socioeconomic disparities can also influence students’ cultural capital, which refers to the knowledge, skills, and behaviours that are valued in the educational system, albeit not Danish specificity per se. Students from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds tend to have lower academic achievement than their more affluent peers. This achievement gap manifests in various ways, including lower test scores, higher dropout rates, and reduced access to higher education. Socioeconomic factors such as parental education, income, and occupation significantly influence a student’s academic performance and educational outcomes. Early childhood education is crucial in laying the foundation for a child’s educational journey. However, socioeconomic disparities often result in unequal access to high-quality early education. Children from disadvantaged backgrounds may have limited access to preschool programs, which can affect their readiness for formal schooling. Denmark has implemented initiatives to increase access to early childhood education, such as providing subsidies and support for vulnerable families. However, there is still a need for further efforts to ensure equal opportunities for all children. Students from disadvantaged backgrounds may face limited access to educational guidance and support systems, including career counselling and tutoring services. This lack of support can hinder their educational and career aspirations. Providing comprehensive guidance and support services to students, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds, can help level the playing field and enhance their educational opportunities.

“Across most OECD countries, socio-economic status influences learning outcomes more than gender and immigrant status. In Denmark, the proportion of children from the bottom quartile of the PISA index of economic, social and cultural status (ESCS) achieving at least PISA level 2 in reading in 2018 was 22% lower than that of children from the top ESCS quartile, a smaller share than the OECD average of 29%.”[5]

Integration of Immigrant Students

The integration of immigrant students in Denmark is a critical aspect of the Danish education system.

Denmark has experienced an influx of immigrants and refugees in recent years, which has presented challenges in integrating these students into the education system. Language barriers, cultural differences, and limited educational backgrounds can hinder the academic progress of immigrant students. Denmark has implemented strategies such as language immersion programs, intercultural awareness training for teachers, and initiatives to promote multicultural understanding among students to address this issue. Immigrant students may face educational gaps due to differences in curriculum, educational systems, or limited educational opportunities in their countries of origin. To address these gaps, Denmark has implemented bridge programs that provide additional academic support and resources to help immigrant students catch up with their peers. These programs focus on core subjects and provide individualized assistance to ensure a smooth transition into the Danish educational system. However, further efforts are needed to enhance integration and provide equal educational opportunities for all students.

The biggest problem for the integration of foreign immigrant students is the gradual abandonment of the policy of openness and inclusiveness that made Denmark a dynamic country. Far-right and conservative parties are scoring historically high: the nationalist Danish People’s Party was a coalition government member from 2001 to 2011 and from 2015 to 2019. This has led the liberal-conservative right to move closer to far-right themes by proposing a policy of defiance towards immigration. In a sign of distrust of European integration, a referendum was held in December 2015 on Denmark’s continued membership of Europol (confirmed by a slight majority of 53%). Since 2019, although the far right is not a member of the coalition government, the executive led by Mette Frederiksen has pursued a harsh nationalist immigration policy.[6].

Economic Challenges

Spending on social protection in Denmark is among the highest in the OECD but still lags behind countries such as Belgium, France and Finland. In fact, it’s not a question of spending but of the willingness to continue spending on social protection. Like many countries, Denmark faces a shortage of qualified teachers, particularly in certain subject areas and remote regions. The profession’s low attractiveness, heavy workload, and limited career advancement opportunities have contributed to this challenge. The Danish government has taken steps to address this issue, including increasing teacher salaries, providing professional development opportunities, and implementing recruitment campaigns. However, sustained efforts are necessary to attract and retain talented educators, ensuring a high-quality teaching workforce nationwide. Textbooks, course materials, and other study resources can be costly for students, particularly in fields that require specialized materials or equipment. The expense of study materials can pose a financial challenge, especially for students from low-income backgrounds who may struggle to afford these additional costs. Access to libraries, online resources, and institutional support for affordable study materials can help alleviate this barrier.

The issue is that Denmark has gradually deconstructed its welfare state. The Danish welfare state is not socialist or even communist in inspiration but liberal. Social protection is based on a universal model, i.e., it benefits all citizens without any prior income condition, as is the case in the Beveridgian or French welfare state system.[7]. The idea is to facilitate the integration of individuals into the capitalist market: not to reduce inequalities but to promote equal opportunities. Inequality reduction ultimately aims for the total extinction of pauperism, while equal opportunity aims to grant citizens a certain number of similar rights. Denmark’s neoliberal shift is part of a Scandinavian neoliberal shift of the 2010s. The Danish executive has chosen to “empower” its citizens by tightening access to social benefits. In the case of Danish students, for example, benefits for students with learning difficulties have been abolished altogether.  

The campus area of the Danish Design School photographed in 2010 while it was located in the former buildings of the Finsen Institute at Strandboulevarden in the Østerbro district of Copenhagen. Photo by Danmarks Designskole – The Danish Design School.

Conclusion and Recommendations

Denmark’s commitment to education is commendable, but it faces several challenges that require attention and targeted interventions. Addressing socioeconomic disparities, integrating immigrant students, attracting and retaining qualified teachers, reforming assessment practices, facilitating smooth transitions, and leveraging technology are critical focus areas.

Finding affordable and suitable housing can be a challenge for students, especially in cities with high rental prices. Accommodation costs can consume a significant portion of a student’s budget, leaving limited funds for other essential expenses. To address this issue, Denmark provides student housing options at affordable rates through housing associations, student dormitories, and rental subsidies. However, the demand for student housing often exceeds the available supply, creating additional challenges for students.

Increasing access to mental health services, providing comprehensive counselling programs, and integrating mental health education into the curriculum can help address stress-related issues and support students’ emotional well-being. Fostering a positive and inclusive school environment through anti-bullying initiatives, promoting social-emotional learning, and implementing effective behaviour management strategies can contribute to improved student happiness and engagement. Equipping teachers with training and professional development opportunities focused on mental health support, classroom management strategies, and fostering positive learning environments can enhance their ability to address student well-being and learning needs effectively. Given the scale of the problem, the Danish government should set up a dedicated budget to deal with the profound malaise of its pupils. More psychiatrists, reeducation of school time and fewer lectures are possible solutions.

Ongoing challenges persist in integrating immigrant students into the Danish educational system. Continued investment in language programs, intercultural training, tailored support services, and community engagement will further strengthen the integration of immigrant students and promote educational success and social cohesion in Denmark. Maintaining a policy of openness and inclusiveness must be a top priority for public authorities.

Addressing socioeconomic disparities in the Danish educational system requires a multi-faceted approach that focuses on providing equal opportunities, enhancing access to resources, and promoting inclusive practices. This involves implementing targeted support programs for vulnerable students, investing in high-quality early childhood education, improving infrastructure and resources in disadvantaged schools, expanding access to guidance and support services, and fostering a culture of high expectations and educational aspirations for all students.

By addressing these challenges, Denmark can further enhance its education system, foster equal opportunities for all students, and prepare its youth for the demands of the 21st century.


Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development, “Denmark: ensuring equal opportunities for students across socio-economic backgrounds”, Education at a Glance 2021 : OECD Indicators, OECD, 2021.

Human Practice Foundation, “Main challenges and barrier to education in Denmark”, Human Practice Foundation, December 2021.

Roberts, Michael, “Denmark : the happy social-democrat model?”, Counterfire, November 2022.

Marcellin, Anastasia, “Why Denmark’s vaunted school system is showing signs of wear”, The Local, July 2019.

Math, Susheela, “Denmark’s “Ghetto Package” and the intersection of the right to housing and non-discrimination”, Human Rights Watch International, March 11th, 2011.

[1] Roberts, Michael, “Denmark : the happy social-democrat model?”, Counterfire, November 2022.

[2] Math, Susheela, “Denmark’s “Ghetto Package” and the intersection of the right to housing and non-discrimination”, Human Rights Watch International, March 11th, 2011. “Thousands of people across Denmark face eviction from their homes under the country’s “Ghetto Package,” which seeks to “eradicate” “ghettos” by 2030.  The State distinguishes “ghettos” from other areas with the same socio-economic factors on the basis that the majority of residents are of what it calls “non-Western background.” (literatim).

[3] Marcellin, Anastasia, “Why Denmark’s vaunted school system is showing signs of wear”, The Local, July 2019.

[4] Human Practice Foundation, “Main challenges and barrier to education in Denmark”, Human Practice Foundation, December 2021.

[5] Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development, “Denmark: ensuring equal opportunities for students across socio-economic backgrounds”, Education at a Glance 2021: OECD Indicators, OECD, 2021.

[6] The Danish government wants asylum seekers to be systematically sent to a third country (preferably far from Denmark: that’s the subtext) while their application is processed.

[7] In the Beveridgian system, social benefits are granted according to the needs of each social category, not indiscriminately. This system is the basis of social protection in France.

Universal Periodic Review of Senegal

  • Broken Chalk is a non-profit organisation with one main goal – To protect human rights in education. The organisation started with a website and articles and is currently working on multiple projects, each aiming to fight human rights violations in the educational sphere. As the UPR is related to human rights violations, inequalities, human trafficking, and other violations, Broken Chalk prepares this article for the fourth Cycle and the specific country – the Republic of Senegal.
  • This report will provide an update on the previous issues related to education, plus recommendations on how to deal with new ones.

By Camille Boblet-Ledoyen

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Cover image by J. Patrick Fischer.

The United Nations and the right to education

Written by Camille Boblet-Ledoyen

The 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, is the cornerstone of the United Nations and our international order: ” Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all based on merit.”[1] Since then, education has undergone spectacular development in the history of humanity: but today, dictated by economic rather than humanistic choices, the right to education seems to be falling all around the globe.

Children write their own Declaration of Human Rights at the UN in Vienna. Photo by UNIS Vienna.

The survey conducted by U-Report, a project coordinated by UNICEF, on the theme of basic education among a panel focusing on young people (only 5% of respondents were aged over 31), clearly shows the colossal challenges facing the right to education. 32,847 individuals were surveyed, with a response rate of 91%; 65% of respondents were male (10,891) and 35% were female (5,738). Sub-Saharan African countries, in particular Nigeria, had the most respondents, with 1,836, followed by Congo-Kinshasa with 1,839. By contrast, Europe was the region with the least participation: the United Kingdom was the region with the most respondents, with 160 people polled. When asked “How often do you feel you learn at school”, 42% of respondents said “Always”. However, this response differed according to gender: while 45% of men answered “always”, only 36% of women gave this answer. Women were more likely to answer ‘often’ at 32% (compared with 28% of men) and ‘sometimes’ at 25% (compared with 20% of men). The question “Did you receive enough help at school to acquire basic skills (such as reading and maths) to continue learning and find a job after graduating? 77% of the French answered “yes”, followed by 70% of the Congolese and 58% of the British. The next question reflects respondents’ concerns about the erosion of the right to education: 74% of those questioned believe that the learning crisis will have a negative impact on the future of their country. The Germans, Malaysians, and Dutch are all convinced of this, with 100% positive responses, followed by the Greeks at 83%, the Indians at 82%, and Nigeria at 80%. Respondents aged 25 and over were the most pessimistic, at over 80%. On the subject of the political response to the challenges undermining basic education, those aged 25 and over were the most skeptical, with over 38% giving a negative response. Among Belgians, 68% responded ‘more or less’, while among Canadians 59% were ‘satisfied’ and ‘more or less satisfied’ with the policies being pursued, while among Chileans 78% disapproved. The Germans gave a negative response of 55%, and none of them gave a positive response. French and Indian respondents were more divided: 26% and 25% respectively felt that their governments were providing effective responses to the education crisis, 36% and 34% respectively considered this response to be ‘more or less’ relevant, and 33% disapproved. Finally, when asked “What do you think is the most urgent action that governments should take to tackle the crisis in education and training? 34% of those polled voted in favor of the issue of education funding, 39% of men and 35% of women. Moreover, 28% of women gave priority to helping children who have dropped out of school, compared with 22% of male respondents.

What interpretation can be given to all these responses? First of all, there is no schism between the so-called “North” and “South” countries, as might have been expected. The crisis in education is therefore global, and economic choices have a lot to do with it. Whereas education was the only issue common to both blocs of the Cold War – in Maoist China as much as in the United States of America, in Nasserite Egypt as much as in Kubitschek’s Brazil, and Europe – the Washington Consensus of 1989 put an end to this fundamental notion of “right”. It is important to remember the neo-liberal shift that has been imposed on education: the “reorientation of public spending priorities” introduces the principle of profitability into the public service and will be particularly devastating in Third World countries. The case of Latin America is particularly interesting: as a kind of laboratory for neoliberalism, the right to education has been severely undermined, as in Argentina, Brazil, and, more recently, Chile, where educational structures are gradually being privatized. The public authorities in South Korea have largely delegated education to the private sector (shadow education): 74.5% of South Koreans under the age of twelve were in private education in 2019, according to data from the Korean Statistical Information Office. The introduction of competitiveness at and between higher education institutions is a problem highlighted by the UNICEF survey. Tuition fees have been introduced to address the lack of academic infrastructure, but this response is neither relevant nor effective. The story of a Chilean student in France gathered in 2018 by the newspaper Libération as part of an investigation into the increase in tuition fees is just one example of the iniquitous nature of this method:

“These new tuition fees are too high, especially as I’m already 10,000 euros in debt from my degree in Chile, where the fees are also enormous. I chose France for several reasons: for the language, for the excellent training in social and political sciences. And, of course, the tuition fees, were quite affordable, unlike in Chile where the education system is privatized and only accessible to a minority. In my country, education is very expensive. For those who aren’t lucky enough to get a grant based on social or academic criteria, the only option is to go into debt for several years after graduation.”[2]

Political choices are undermining the very principle of the right to education. The crucial need for investment in education has been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic, and this is true across the board: in developed and developing countries alike, the privatization of education has shown the extent of the devastation: according to the World Bank, “COVID-19 has caused the worst crisis in education and learning for a century”.[3] Above all, the pandemic has highlighted the damage caused by the disengagement of public authorities. The right to education depends on quality infrastructure and, therefore, investment to match. All respondents, whatever their country of origin, are in favor of massive refinancing of education.

Children’s conference on human rights at the UN in Vienna. Photo by UNIS Vienna/Lilia Jiménez-Ertl.

It is worrying to note that the conservative trajectory extends across all the world’s continents, from the rewriting of common history in countries such as India, where Muslim memory is obliterated; to Russia, where revisionism is the narrative employed at the highest levels of the State; but also more traditional democracies such as Japan, where the work of remembrance relating to the Second World War remains problematic, and South Korea, where the Korean War is largely revisited by the new history textbooks.[4] The fact that India, the world’s largest democracy, has embarked on a panoptic shift is dramatic in terms of individual freedoms, particularly academic freedom, which is a pillar of social development, and in geopolitical terms, with the risk of alignment with the Russian Federation and China. Narendra Modi is today a Prime Minister courted by the Great Powers, who have no hesitation in casting a modest veil over his most aggressive policies in the hope – more akin to wishful thinking than anything else – of bringing Delhi closer to the Western bloc.[5] The revision of Indian school textbooks completely obliterates the legacy of some three hundred years of the Muslim Mughal Empire, the assassination of Gandhi by the Hindu nationalist Nathuram Godse in 1948, and the bloody repression of the Gujarat riots in 2002, for which Prime Minister Modi is held responsible.[6]

The frequency of learning differs significantly between the two sexes, and this issue deserves to be highlighted. Admittedly, the survey has its limitations, since it is not a question of the resources put in place but of the personal feelings of each respondent: by its very nature, the response is therefore biased. Nevertheless, the 9-point gap between men and women should not be underestimated. This factor can be explained in several ways: education systems designed for men and favoring activities that favor them; lower self-esteem among women than among men; external conditions that undermine women’s education and learning. Bullying at school, low enrolment rates for girls, and sexism are undeniably among the causes. It would have been interesting if the survey had asked respondents about this.

According to the results of the survey, the educational crisis is particularly acute in Germany, Malaysia, and the Netherlands. In Germany, an investigation carried out by journalists from Spiegel and published on 17 March this year, entitled “The education fiasco” (Der Schule-Fiasko), caused quite a stir: “Postponing investment in the younger generation means saving for fools”, says Aladin El-Mafaalani[7] . No one will be left behind in this major transformation”, declared Social Democrat Chancellor Olaf Scholz to the Bundestag (the German Federal Parliament) two years earlier. Unfortunately, this promise has come to nothing. In Germany, according to a 2018 OECD study, it takes 180 years on average for a student from a social class background to “approach the average income”.

To conclude in a few words, the UNICEF survey highlights not only young people’s pessimism and concern about the decline in the right to education but also and above all their unshakeable attachment to the principle of education as an inalienable human right. The pandemic has not only revealed but also aggravated these inequalities in education. The young people interviewed are well aware of the devastation caused by decades of privatization and unbridled competition in education.

[1] Article XXVI of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

[2] Delmas, Aurélie, Hadni, Dounia and Thomas, Marlène, “Tuition fees: international students testify“, Libération, 17 December 2018.

[3] World Bank, “Faced with the consequences of COVID-19 on education, we must act quickly and effectively“, World Bank, 22 January 2021.

[4] Im Eun-Byel, “New textbook guidelines spark controversy“, The Korea Herald, 1er  September 2022.

[5] This is borne out by the somewhat insistent invitation extended by French President Emmanuel Macron to Prime Minister Modi to take part in the French bank holidays celebrations on 14 July.

[6] Mansoor, Sanya, “India’s School Textbooks Are the Latest Battleground for Hindu Nationalism“, Time, 6 April 2023.

[7] Olbrisch, Miriam, “Soziologe zum Zustand der Jugend: Es ist erstaunlich, dass viele so ruhig bleiben“, Der Spiegel, 17 March 2023.

Educational challenges in South Korea

Written by Camille Boblet—Ledoyen

South Korea, or more officially the Republic of Korea, is a country in Southeast Asia, the tenth largest economy in the world and a middle power. To fully understand the educational challenges of contemporary South Korea, we need to remember the historical context: a former Japanese colony until 1945, the Korean peninsula is an underdeveloped region with an estimated adult literacy rate of 22%. Pre-1945 Korea was a peninsula with very rigid social classes, influenced by Confucian values. The democratization of education beginning in the 1960s – largely driven by the containment of communism – resulted in an increase in the adult literacy rate to 87.6 per cent in 1970, 93 per cent in the late 1980s and 98.8 per cent today. The Korean education system is now ranked 7th in the world in the PISA ranking (Average Score of Mathematics, Science and Reading, 2018) and 6 Korean universities are among the top 200 in the world (Times Higher Education, 2023). Despite all these statistics which show a spectacular evolution, the South Korean system remains deeply unequal: this inequality of opportunity inherited from elitist Confucian values is today the main challenge for the country. Fifty years of economic and industrial development have certainly made Korea the eleventh largest country in the world; however, the social question was completely overshadowed. While the demonstrations of June 1987 enabled the country to become a democracy, they did not introduce the notion of the Welfare-State.

Korean students during Suneung exam. Photo by Koreaners.


The educational system in Korea places an almost inordinate emphasis on standardized tests. South Korea’s university entrance exam, called Suneung, is widely regarded as the most important test in the country. The exam, which is taken by high school seniors, determines a student’s eligibility for admission to top universities in the country. The emphasis on the test has created a culture of intense competition, which places a significant amount of pressure on students. The pressure to perform well on the Suneung has led to a phenomenon known as “exam hell.” Students are expected to spend long hours studying, attending cram schools, and sacrificing their social lives in order to prepare for the exam. This exam has no equivalent in Western educational systems. There is no national exam in the United States of America to get into higher education. In Canada and Europe, there are high school graduation exams: the High School Diploma in Canada, the Abitur in Germany, the Baccalauréat in France, the Maturità in Italy and the Bachillerato in Spain. In South Korea, the exam is portrayed as “having the opportunity to make or break your future.” According to the Ahn’s Presidential Advisory Council on Education, Science and Technology, more than 200 students committed suicide in 2009 and about 150 the following year. The course of this exam even gives rise to unique situations:

“14,000 police officers are mobilized to ensure good traffic flow. And there is even an emergency number for latecomers. They call it and a policeman comes to pick up the student at his home to take him to his exam center. […] landings and take-offs are banned in all airports during the language tests because the candidates are listening to recordings.” (Radio France, 2017).

Therefore, the pressure is not only on students, but also on parents who invest heavily in their children’s education, often leading to a financial burden. The emphasis on standardized tests has also led to a narrow curriculum. Schools focus on teaching the material that is likely to be on the test, leading to a lack of emphasis on critical thinking, creativity, and problem-solving skills. The result is a generation of students who may excel in memorization, but struggle when faced with real-world challenges.

We should also point out the lack of diversity in teaching methods. The country has a highly centralized education system, with a focus on rote learning and standardized testing. While this approach has led to high levels of academic achievement, it has also resulted in a lack of creativity and critical thinking skills among students. In recent years, there has been a growing recognition of the need to introduce more diverse teaching methods to encourage creativity and problem-solving skills.

One of the most significant impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Korean educational system was the sudden shift to online learning. Students were required to participate in virtual classes to continue their education. This shift to online learning presented numerous challenges, including access to technology, internet connectivity, and the need for teacher training in remote instruction. While many students were able to adapt to online learning, others struggled due to the lack of in-person interaction and support from teachers. The digital divide has been a longstanding issue in the Korean educational system, and the pandemic exacerbated this issue. The Korean government implemented several initiatives to address the digital divide, including providing laptops and tablets to low-income families and expanding access to high-speed internet. However, these efforts were not enough to address the disparities in access to technology and internet connectivity.


One of the most significant challenges facing South Korea’s education system is the intense pressure that students are under. As a country with a Confucian tradition, there was an examination to become a civil servant in Korea called Gwageo. Similar to the imperial examination in China, this selection method was very long prized by the Korean elites until its abolition in 1894. The selection and competition between students is therefore ancient and deeply rooted in Korean society. From a very young age, students are expected to perform at an incredibly high level in order to gain entry into top universities and secure high-paying jobs. This pressure can be so intense that it can lead to mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. Moreover, this pressure on students has led to a culture of cramming and rote memorization rather than a focus on critical thinking and creativity. The level of competition that exists in Europe has nothing to do with that in South Korea. Competition leads to two things among students: considerable inner stress A terrible degradation of human relationships. The other is no longer a fellow man. Korean students do not go to bed before eleven o’clock in the evening, and their school day is hectic. Their minds are focused on work and how to become the best in the class. Everything else is put aside: relationships, music, sports, etc. In the school environment, no one really is a friend. There are only competitors. This competition begins at a young age, with students vying for spots at prestigious elementary schools and continues throughout their academic careers. This competition can be so intense that it can lead to cheating and other unethical behavior in order to gain an advantage.

This competition leads to a number of problems. Firstly, it leads to a lack of diversity in the education system. Students are pushed to excel in certain subjects, such as math and science, at the expense of other subjects, such as the arts and humanities. This focus on certain subjects leads to a lack of well-rounded education. Additionally, the competitive nature of the education system leads to a lack of collaboration among students. Instead of working together to solve problems, students often view their classmates as competitors and are hesitant to share their ideas or knowledge. This lack of collaboration can hinder the development of critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

Focusing on the artistic representations of school in South Korean society makes us aware of the importance given to education. School and more generally school performance are over-represented in films and series (K-Drama). To perform poorly in school or to perform less well in school is perceived by society as a tare and something very shameful, which is the central element of the film Parasite (shooted by Bong Joon-ho, 2019). The main protagonist’s family lives excluded from this society of success, in an unhealthy basement, without money and living from day to day. As the film shows, being poor is a disgrace for the people concerned: if they are poor, it is because they have not worked well. To succeed, you have to work hard: this is the leitmotif of Korean culture. Without hard work, there is no salvation. The 2012 release of the film Pluto by director Shin Su-won caused a lot of reaction and controversy in the country. This highlights several issues of the Korean educational system. All the students in the film are doomed to succeed. And they will do anything to achieve it, even dehumanize the other person and stoop to animal behaviour. The main protagonist feels humiliated in front of prosperous children who are more confident of success than he is. It is this feeling of inferiority that will push him to commit the irreparable. Wealthy students are ready to kill their competitors which is the whole plot of the film: students go crazy, don’t sleep at night, commit acts of rape and humiliation on other students.


The Republic of Korea has one of the highest rates of gender inequality among OECD countries. Women’s labor force participation in 2019 is 60%, 5 percentage points lower than the OECD average. The gender pay gap is a concern: while the OECD average is 12.5%, the gap is 32.5%. While this gap is decreasing (it stood at 41% in 2000), it remains indicative of the gender divide. The Republic of Korea has made progress in terms of gender equality, but still has a long way to go to reach the standards of other developed countries. Gender equality must be promoted from school onwards, which is currently not the case, if at all. If it is not able to ensure that young Korean women students have well-paid jobs with equal pay to men, then the country’s economic dynamism and social welfare will suffer.

Students from low-income families or rural areas often have limited access to quality education and may struggle to compete with their wealthier peers This gap in educational opportunities can lead to a lack of social mobility. Students from low-income families may struggle to get into top universities or secure well-paying jobs, despite their academic abilities. This can lead to a cycle of poverty, as these students may not have the resources or opportunities to improve their situation. The fact that tuition fees are very high (4 million South Korean won, or 3,500 euros per semester) is a serious impediment to education for all and prevents any social climbing. For comparison, the OECD average in terms of tuition fees is 2,800 euros per year.

The South Korean education system has been criticized for its lack of diversity and inclusion. South Korea is a homogeneous society, and this is reflected in its education system. The curriculum is focused on teaching Korean history, culture, and language, with little emphasis on other cultures or languages. The lack of diversity in the education system can lead to a narrow-minded view of the world. Students are not exposed to different cultures, religions, or ways of thinking, which can limit their ability to be open-minded and empathetic. The education system in South Korea has also been criticized for its lack of support for students with disabilities. According to a report by the Korea Institute for Special Education, only 31.6% of students with disabilities attend regular schools, while the rest attend special schools. The lack of inclusion can lead to a sense of isolation and stigmatization for these students, who may feel excluded from mainstream society.


South Korea’s society is well known for the importance of private tutoring (hagwon). Private tutoring has become a necessary part of education in South Korea, as parents feel that it is the only way to ensure their children’s success. According to a report by the Korean Educational Development Institute, nearly 80% of South Korean students attend hagwon. Private tutoring is offered in a variety of subjects, including math, science, English, and Korean language. The cost of private tutoring can vary depending on the subject and the qualifications of the tutor, with some parents paying large sums of money to provide their children with extra support outside of school. The high demand for hagwon has led to a rise in the cost of private tutoring, which can be a financial burden on families. The pressure to succeed academically can be intense, with many students experiencing high levels of stress and anxiety. The cost of hagwon can be as high as 30% of a family’s income, putting pressure on parents to work longer hours or take on additional jobs to pay for their children’s education. The reliance on private tutoring has also led to a lack of trust in the public education system. Parents feel that the public schools are not doing enough to prepare their children for the standardized tests, leading to a loss of faith in the system. This has also led to a lack of support for teachers, who are often blamed for their children’s lack of success.

Students from wealthier families are indeed more likely to be able to afford high-quality private tutoring, which can give them an advantage over their peers from lower-income families. This leads to a cycle of disadvantage, with students from lower-income families struggling to keep up with their peers and falling further behind.


While the Korean government implemented several initiatives to address these issues, the pandemic has underscored the need for greater investment in technology and support for disadvantaged students, as well as a greater emphasis on social and emotional learning. All things considered, the pandemic was the revelation of all the dysfunctions and challenges of the South Korean educational system.

The foremost concern of the Korean government should be tackling gender gap. should promote gender awareness and gender-sensitive education in schools, as well as develop educational programs that challenge traditional gender roles and promote gender equality. Violence against women is a significant issue in South Korea: the government should develop laws and policies that protect women from violence, as well as promote public awareness campaigns that challenge harmful attitudes towards women. The civil society and the government must work hand in hand to change cultural norms that reinforce gender inequality. This can be done through public campaigns, media messages, and the promotion of gender equality in popular culture. South Korea’s educational system could introduce policies to encourage more girls to pursue STEM fields. This could include offering scholarships and financial support to girls studying STEM subjects, as well as providing mentorship opportunities and career guidance. Additionally, schools could work to eliminate gender biases in the classroom and provide female students with positive role models in STEM fields.

The existence of an exam as stressful and complex as the Suneung is problematic. The fact that students are committing suicide demonstrates how this system poses a real threat to student well-being. The government should be inspired by foreign evaluation methods, either similar to the United States of America, where the final grade gives an important place to continuous assessment, or similar to the examinations held in Europe, where oral examination is more practiced.

To address the high cost of private tutoring, South Korea’s educational system could introduce policies to provide additional support for students who need it. This could include providing after-school tutoring and study sessions at no cost to students.


Andrea Matles Savada and William Shaw, editors. South Korea: A Country Study. Washington: GPO for the Library of Congress, 1990.

Hossein Sharif, “Suneung: The day silence falls over South Korea”, BBC News, November 2018.

Jiyeon Lee, “South Korean students’ ‘year of hell’ culminates with exams day”, CNN, November 2011.

Gérald Roux, « C’est comment ailleurs ? », France Info, Radio France, June 2017 [French].

Yongsoo Yang, “Gender equality: Korea has come a long way, but there is more work to do”, 12 ways Korea is changing the world, OECD, October 2021.

OECD, “Access to education, participation and progress”, Education at a Glance 2021, OECD Indicators, 2021.

Thomas Hatch, “Known for its intense testing pressure, top-performing South Korea dials it back”, The Hechinger Report, November 2017.

Arne Duncan, “Education Is the New Currency”, Mapping the Nation, Asia Society, November 2013.

Huiyan Piao & Yuna Hwang, “Shadow Education Policy in Korea During the COVID-19 Pandemic”, ECNU Review of Education, vol. 4, 2021.

Agata Lulkowska, “An Oscar for Parasite? The global rise of South Korean film”, The Conversation, January 2020.

Choi Woo-Young « Condamnés à réussir », Arte, March 2017 [French].


8 Mars 2023

Bonne journée dédiée aux Droits des femmes ! Une journée dédiée à la célébration et la commémoration de toutes les progrès scientifiques, techniques et littéraires accomplis par les femmes partout dans le monde, mais également aux défis qu’il reste à surmonter pour que l’égalité entre les hommes et les femmes deviennent enfin une réalité concrète. Cette année est consacrée tout particulièrement au thème des Femmes dans l’Éducation, la Technologie et l’Innovation, pour lequel toute l’équipe féminine de Broken Chalk y a consacré une vidéo : célébrer les réussites de toutes les enseignantes, pédagogues, chercheuses et médecins de par leur engagement tout autour du globe, mais aussi pointer les multiples problèmes auxquelles encore de nombreuses femmes sont confrontées dans ce domaine de la recherche et l’innovation et proposer des solutions.

L’égalité entre les sexes est le traitement équitable des hommes et des femmes et cela doit être notre objectif à toutes et tous. Cette objectif nous engage. Les femmes ont pu, grâce à un combat ô combien difficile mais jamais sans relâche, obtenir le droit de poursuivre une carrière professionnelle. Pour continuer ce combat et enfin assurer l’égalité de traitement des deux sexes, tous les efforts possibles doivent être mis en œuvre pour aider et assister toutes les femmes partout dans le monde dans leur lutte contre tous les comportements sexistes, les clichés et les stéréotypes misogynes auxquelles elles peuvent faire face tout au long de leur vie.

Le lien de notre vidéo :


L’article 28 de la Convention des Droits de l’Enfant reconnaît l’égalité d’accès à l’éducation gratuite et obligatoire sans distinction de sexe ou d’appartenance ethnique. Malgré le fait que le nombre de filles sur les bancs de l’école n’ait jamais été aussi important dans notre Histoire, c’est quelque 129 millions de filles qui sont encore aujourd’hui privées de ce droit fondamental d’aller à l’école. Les stéréotypes et réflexes patriarcaux continuent encore de nos jours à entraver la scolarité des filles ainsi que des pratiques comme le mariage forcé de jeunes adolescentes, la grossesse précoce, la pauvreté et les violences domestiques et sexuelles. Bien que l’éducation des garçons comme celle des filles contribue au développement social et à la prospérité des Nations, nombre de familles priorise excessivement l’éducation de leurs fils.

L’éducation des filles commence bien avant le début de la scolarité :  il est d’une impérieuse nécessité d’assurer un environnement sain et sûr pour permettre aux filles d’acquérir les savoirs fondamentaux et les compétences nécessaires à leur réussite dans leurs parcours professionnels. Malgré cela, un nombre trop important d’écoles où la sûreté des élèves  et l’hygiène de base persiste, constituant ainsi une entrave au bon développement des élèves et une barrière critique à l’égalité entre les Hommes et les femmes.


Notre équipe est toute entière mobilisée sur le sujet des défis éducatifs que rencontrent hélas trop souvent de femmes dans leurs pays en analysant chaque situation et en proposant des solutions. Dans ce que l’on appelle les pays du Nord, l’éducation des femmes n’est certes pas – ou plus – conditionnée à leur genre, mais les stéréotypes misogynes malveillants continuent trop souvent à reléguer les femmes dans les humanités et faisant des disciplines scientifiques un milieu exclusivement réservé aux hommes. Dans des pays comme l’Italie, les injustices et les discriminations dans l’accès au marché du travail restent encore très fortes. Les étudiantes turques restent confrontées à des fouilles corporelles de la part d’officiers de police. En ce qui concerne des pays dit du Sud, et en particulier en Afrique, la pauvreté constitue le défi majeur face à l’éducation des filles. Dans le cas du Kenya, la scolarité des filles est hachée et de fait incomplète et lacunaire due à des situations de crise alimentaire ou de sècheresses intenses. L’abandon de la scolarité est également liée à des grossesses précoces, souvent non désirées par des adolescentes jeunes, et des mariages forcés. En Ouganda et au Mozambique, ce phénomène est persistant : la société toute entière doit être sensibilisée et mobilisée à ce sujet. Dans des pays d’Asie du Sud-Est comme l’Indonésie, le mariage forcé des jeunes filles est toujours un motif d’abandon de l’école et ces dernières sont encouragées à se concentrer plutôt sur les tâches domestiques et l’éducation des enfants. Le gouvernement indonésien est mobilisé sur le sujet et continue à mettre en place des politiques en faveur de l’éducation des filles, mais ce qui doit être fait est avant tout la sensibilisation de la population. Investir dans l’éducation des filles, c’est investir dans le progrès social et lutter contre la pauvreté.

Comme toujours, c’est la mission de Broken Chalk que d’insister encore et toujours sur l’importance cruciale que revêt l’éducation des filles. Se battre pour l’égalité des hommes et des femmes dans l’éducation, c’est prolonger notre lutte en faveur des Droits de l’Homme. Cette année, Broken Chalk va se concentrer tout particulièrement sur l’accès équitable à l’éducation, continuera de promouvoir les réalisations professionnelles des femmes à travers notre monde. Parce que le Droit des femmes est intimement liée aux Droits de l’Homme, nous continuerons de soutenir tous les efforts entrepris pour l’égalité des sexes dans tous les domaines. L’égalité des Hommes et des Femmes, c’est tendre vers le progrès social et le bien-être. L’égalité des Hommes et des Femmes, c’est améliorer les opportunités professionnelles pour toutes et tous. L’égalité des Hommes et des Femmes, c’est permettre à chacune et chacun d’entre nous de poursuivre ses rêves.

L’équité mène à l’égalité.


Bonne journée du Droit des Femmes !


L’équipe de Broken Chalk


Translated  by Camille Boblet–Ledoyen from