Already beleaguered by pension reform protests and the Yellow Vest movement, France is now grappling with yet more protests, this time by students and teachers fighting new reforms to the country’s baccalaureate high school exams.
In a rare display of solidarity between erstwhile enemies since time immemorial, students and teachers alike blocked-off schools and engaged in brief clashes with police as they resisted the introduction of continuous assessment (E3C (Common Continuous Control Tests)).
The Minister of Education Jean Michel Blanquer announced last week that he wanted to simplify the ‘Bac’ and, ever since then, blockades have taken place in front of exam centers across the country. Many offerings of the test have been forcibly cancelled due to a lack of sitting candidates.
Eyewitness photos and video shared online shows similar scenes across France as improvised blockades made of chairs, desks, bins and other materials appeared in front of schools and test centers.
In what is now a common sight in Macron’s France, heavy-handed police have been involved in clashes with the protesting students between the ages of 15 and 17, and multiple arrests have been made in what many have decried as intimidatory tactics by authorities.
“To intimidate high school students and ensure that these tests take place at all costs, there has been a recent explosion in the number of young people placed in police custody,” a family Lawyer told French media.
The E3C, Common Continuous Control Tests, are spread across three sessions throughout the academic year; however, they take place at different times depending on the region and under different conditions. The protesters argue that this fails to guarantee equality of opportunity for students.