An alarming decline in Latin and Greek education in college and high school

Statistics released by the National Education Ministry on Tuesday, June 14, paint a picture of the decline in ancient language education in colleges and high schools.

From 6.6% in 1996 to 3% in 2022, the share of Latin high school students has halved in 25 years. And of the approximately 366,000 candidates for general graduation, only 772 chose an ancient language as a specialty in 2022. The Ministry of National Education on Tuesday, June 14 released the statistics of the evolution of the study of ancient languages ​​in the schools of the institution. They depict a general decline in Latin and Greek education. Lack of budget, indifference of school principals to the subject, discouragement of CAPES candidates, Robert Dellard, the association’s Stop Your Tank, indicate the reasons for the collapse. For the president of this association for the promotion of ancient languages, the stimulus of students is still very real but the state refuses to provide the necessary means for teaching in good condition throughout their national territory.

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In the last 25 years, the proportion of Latin or Hellenistic students has been 26% to 16.7% in 5th grade, 20.6% to 13.6% in 4th grade and 20.1% to 13% in 3rd grade. In 2022, 14.6% of middle school students and 3% of high school students are Latin, while 0.7% of high school students and 0.8% of middle school students are Hellenistic. With the Kovid epidemic, the number of Latin high school students has further increased, and the proportion of Latin students has dropped from 4 to 3% between 2019 and 2022. Robert Dellard explained the limitations due to the cancellation of the school trip due to health reasons “These trips were a real source of extra and legitimate inspiration for the students.” The president of Stop Your Tank explained.

“With such a system, school principals often prefer to improve English lessons rather than offer the Latin option.”Robert Dellard, Stop Your Charity Association

The statistics produced by the Ministry of National Education indicate the sociological differences that characterize the subject education. Thus, 9.2% are college students “Inconvenient” 24% of high school students study an ancient language “Favorite”. Similarly, Latin is taught to 5.5% of students in the private sector as compared to 2.3% in the public sector. For Jack DeLors, these figures serve as an excuse to denounce the so-called elite. “In reality, if students in the city center or in a private institution take Latin, because we continue to offer it to them, others are often forced to close due to lack of teachers or opening up of alternatives.” The teacher explained. Unlike other subjects, each of which has a specific budget, the ancient languages ​​are actually based on the hourly budget of the margin. At the discretion of the head teacher, it can be used to divide the language class and the practical work of science or to open an alternative to the ancient language. “With such a system, school principals often prefer to improve English lessons rather than offer the Latin option.” Says Robert Dellard.

Teachers are also missing

The president of Arrête ton char also denounced the ministry’s lack of efforts to restore more interest in the classical Capes. “The ministry is doing nothing to raise our heads. The difficulty of the classic CAPES has increased, the transfer has become more complicated due to the decrease in the number of posts and teachers must teach from 8 am to 9 am or from 4 pm to 5 pm, when it is not Wednesday afternoon or Saturday. Morning ” Teacher’s complaint. National education seems to be struggling to meet the shortage of teachers in this regard. In the Capes of Classical Letters this year, only 66 candidates were admitted for the 134 positions offered in the competition. Retiring every year is not enough to replace 300 professors of ancient languages.

“Latin civilization extends to North Africa, and its history is therefore common to North African immigrants and other students in France.”Robert Dellard, President of the Association Stop your tank.

The president of Arrête ton char preserves the multi-faceted nature of the ancient language and the extra general culture that students draw from them. “Today, Latin and Greek classes go beyond just learning the language. They have an ethnographic dimension and allow us to think about people in their culture, in their language and in their mythology. For Robert Dellard, learning Greek and Latin can also contribute to strengthening the sense of belonging of certain students with immigrant backgrounds. “Roman civilization was also widespread in North Africa, and its history is therefore common to the children of North African immigrants and other students in France.” He is explaining. Finally, the professor of classics emphasizes the interest generated by antiquity. “To understand this you need to look at the amount of movies and books that are inspired by it every year. It is a pity that the interest in national education for our subject is inversely proportional to the enthusiasm of the people. ”

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