For the school boys and girls in France, Monday was the first day of school after the fearsome All Saints’ Day carnival. But also, the first since the terrible October 16, when the teacher Samuel Patti was beheaded in the Paris suburb of Pantene because he showed a caricature of the Prophet Muhammad during a lesson on freedom of expression.
At exactly 11 a.m. on November 2, before a minute of silence in his memory, 12 million school boys and girls across the country heard this:
“In your hands you hold the intelligence and the soul of children; you are responsible for the homeland. The children entrusted to you will not only have to learn to write and to understand the content of what is written, to read the sign on the corner of the street, to add and to multiply. They are French and they must know France, its geography and history – body and soul. They will be citizens and they must know what free democracy is, what rights they are given but also what obligations the sovereignty of the nation imposes on them. After all, they will be human beings and they must know the person. They must know that all our suffering is rooted in
egoism – in all its forms
And at the heart of our greatness is the unity between pride and compassion.”
The text, which has become the philosophical basis of the modern education system in France, is part of a letter to teachers published in 1888 by Jean Jaurès, himself a teacher, politician and founder of the left-wing newspaper L’Humanité.
Jaurès’s message was carefully selected by a team from the French Ministry of Education that prepared a separate protocol to pay tribute to Patti, tailored to the age of the children at each stage of their education. This time no one in France had the right to make mistakes. In 2015, a shocking number of school boys and girls refused to participate in the one-minute silence for the victims of the assassination attempt on the offices of the satirical weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo. Some of them even openly sided with the terrorists.
To prevent this from happening again, delegates, elected to each high school class, yesterday attended meetings with teachers and psychologists, to whom, on behalf of their classmates, they asked all the questions that worried them after the murder of Samuel Patti. But also, in order each of them to understand why he should remain silent in his memory.
“This minute can replace the prayer
and can allow anyone – a believer, an atheist or an agnostic – to take part in the remembrance – this is so important in a democratic and secular society, psychology professor Claire Leconte told before one of France’s major television channels. It is a moment of brotherhood, sharing and solidarity that is at the heart of our history.”
In the days when the French education system was preparing for a minute of silence in memory of Samuel Patti and its experts were looking for their mistakes from 2015, so as not to repeat them again, on October 26, the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) published its next report. This is the most in-depth and comprehensive study of education systems, teacher training and the state of adolescents in the world.
According to the text of the report, 15-year-old Bulgarian school boys and girls fall into the group of their peers who show the least respect for the culture of others, they are among the most intolerant to migrants, do not know much about global issues, and therefore do not have particularly rational solutions for them.
The children of the “next generation” Bulgarians
who are currently prepared by our educational system are not among the most curious about what is happening in the world. And their propensity to listen and to accept different points of view is below the global average.
Less than 50% of the principals of Bulgarian schools, respondents in the PISA survey, reported that international conflicts and the causes of poverty find a place in the educational process they organize. Gender equality is discussed in 60% of the schools in our country, and in no more than 30% of them the teachers discuss with the school boys and girls the contact with other cultural and religious communities.
These differences in the ability and the desire of teenagers in Bulgaria to understand and to accept the other’s point of view rank them among their peers from the Dominican Republic and the United Arab Emirates. And they are fatally moved away in comparison with 15-year-olds in neighboring Balkan countries such as Northern Macedonia, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Romania, and even Turkey.
school has not been a value for too long
Due to the lack of public control over the education system, it is constantly disintegrating into countless self-serving reforms, imaginary standards, and false, imitated activity. Thus, officials are gaining another mandate to survive, while classrooms continue to throw future citizens into the streets, increasingly unable to cope with life. People, who can’t and also don’t want to understand the world around them.
That is why the support for the causes of solidarity in our country is more and more often anonymous, virtual, Facebook.
But the worst thing is that 15-year-olds in Bulgaria lose the chance every day to learn that “all our suffering is rooted in egoism – in all its forms. And at the heart of our greatness is the unity between pride and compassion.”