Presentation of the French Education System > The AEFE
Created in 1990, the agence pour l’enseignement français à l’étranger (AEFE), it is a public institution managed by the Minister for Foreign and European Affairs. The AEFE is in charge of the follow-up and management of a network of 253 schools which all follow the French program (73 are directly managed by them and 180 are government-regulated institutions). These schools are present in nearly 135 countries around the world are are part of the 440 institutions regulated by the French Education Department.
The many institutions cater for nearly 164,000 of the 250,000 children educated in the French system throughout the world. The agency’s main objectives are to ensure the continuity of French education for French children (46% of the total enrolments), to contribute to spreading the French language and culture to foreign children and to participate in reinforcing relationships between the French and foreign education systems.
Another main objective is to keep the changes in school fees under control. Contrary to what happens in France, the French education system abroad is based on a double financing by both the State (the Minister for Foreign Affairs provides a of more than 320 million euros to help the schools continue to operate which makes up over 40% of the schools’ budget for this area) and by the families and host countries (with participation of 58% and 2% respectively). In total, more than 650 million euros are used to finance and develop this unique network.
Whenever possible and whenever necessary, the agency helps out French expatriate families with school grants. 10% of their budget is dedicated to this area. Moreover, and so as to encourage the most brilliant foreign students to go and study in French universities, the agency provides 200 excellence grants every year.
The agency provides personnel (both teaching and support) for all those schools they directly manage and those which are government-regulated. These personnel have French education qualifications. There are more than 6,200 personnel who work in one of the schools in the network.
The network of French schools is composed of more than 430 institutions around the world. Their teaching programs have been recognized as conforming to French programs and have received an approval issued by the Minister for Education.
To be approved, an institution must respect the conditions stated by a decree (no. 93-1084 of 9th September 1993) which imposes: access by French children living outside of France, respect of the syllabus of the French public system, preparation for the same exams and qualifications as in France and the checking of these criteria by the inspection department of the Department of Education.
This approval is not guaranteed long term and institutions must be regularly checked to make sure they adhere to the criteria. The approval can be granted, removed, limited or extended to all the classes in the institution.
Government regulated institutions
These are approved decentralized institutions from the AEFE. They receive subsidies from the AEFE who also finances the salaries of the French-qualified personnel who work there. There are currently 74 institutions out of 430 which are government-regulated.
These are approved institutions which are managed by private French or foreign companies who decide to enter into an agreement with the AEFE regarding placement and salary conditions of teachers or qualified support staff, distribution of subsidies and the payment of school grants for French children. There are currently 178 institutions out 430 which are approved in this way.
French teaching overseas
1. Application of texts and adapting to overseas contexts
French education abroad is first and foremost a teaching program which has been approved by the French Minister for Education. In this way, it must conform to the French syllabus and apply the hours and rules currently in force. Considering the specificity of French institutions abroad, the AEFE has developed a policy of integrating the host country which leads to an adapting of programs, hours, and teaching plans.
- Adapting the syllabus focuses on, for example, History-Geography (from contextualizing the contents to changing the syllabus, depending on geographic zone), but also Science (when there is a question of validating secondary studies by the host country’s tertiary system).
- Adapting the hours focuses on language teaching where Primary institutions can add hours to the 26 hours a week rule as soon as they implement an intensive language teaching or a bilingual section (cf. brochure “enseignement des langues vivantes dans les établissements à programme français”).
- Adapting teaching plans focuses on, for example, welcoming and provding linguistic support for non-french speaking students (cf. pedagogical orientation text “la maîtrise du français langue de scolarisation”).
2. Promoting the French language and multilingualism
French education abroad is first and foremost taught in French (which also implies early teaching of the French language). French schools abroad become instruments of cooperation as they help promote the French language. They also voluntarily promote learning languages in general (cf. brochure “enseignement des langues vivantes dans les établissements à programme français”). The objective is that all students will be able to master at least one other language by learning it from a very early age (from at least primary school or even maternelle school). The teaching of the language of the host country is recommended, and also leads to the implementation of bilingual or even trilingual teaching.
3. Academic excellence and success for all students
Above and beyond the excellent results in the baccalauréat exam – which contribute to the reputation of excellence held by French schools abroad – the AEFE would like to put in place, in every institution, a pedagogy related to success for all students. This is outlined in two ways:
- to benefit non French speaking students
- to help those in difficulty wherever these needs are identified.