Among the novelties introduced by this law, the lowering of the compulsory education to 3 years. Planète Enfants & Développement is pleased that early childhood is on the government's agenda, but wonders about the implementation of this measure.
The lowering of compulsory education from 6 to 3 years of age should affect 25,000 children, most of them in the overseas departments. While in metropolitan France the enrollment rate for 3-5 year olds is already 98.9%, it is 82% in Guyana and 84.9% in Mayotte. To a lesser extent, children whose parents prefer kindergartens or home-based learning are also affected.
We welcome the recognition of the importance of early childhood in France and the desire to reduce inequalities from the earliest age. Indeed, numerous studies published in recent years, notably by neuroscientists, demonstrate the importance of the child's environment on his development. An unstimulating environment leads to a depletion of the synaptic network in the child's brain and the underdevelopment of certain cognitive functions. Before the age of 6, the foundations of language, motor skills and self-confidence are laid.
Mandatory lowering should therefore increase the access rate to school for 3-5 year olds but above all strengthen the emotional and intellectual development of the child.
But what will it really be?
The obligation concerns instruction (not schooling). Parents may therefore opt for home schooling, which must be declared to and monitored at least annually by the academic inspection. But do the families and territories concerned have the keys and resources to respect the new law? Precariousness, fears of families, lack of structures and teachers are all obstacles in some French territories (1). Is the law easily applicable as it stands for the 25,000 children listed?
And beyond the quantitative aspect, will the quality of care for children be the subject of particular attention? The notion of compulsory instruction (2) for 3-5 year olds raises questions for us: the nursery school is thus described as a place of instruction. We are in phase with the recommendation of the impact study of the bill which indicates that it is important to "reinforce the kindergarten in its dimension of school of emotional and social development, with a secure framework". Kindergarten must not become a first grade before its time where evaluation prevails and during which students learn to write, read and count, without respecting the child's developmental rhythm and individuality.
It should be noted that France is the first European country to impose compulsory education at age 3. It will be necessary to study the application, the impacts and the benefits.
We reaffirm our position that governments around the world must make a substantial investment so that children from 0 to 6 years old can develop and flourish in a supportive environment and be given the best tools for the future.
Because we are convinced that the stimulation of the youngest children plays a major role in the development of their potential and the adults they will become, Planète Enfants & Développement wishes to improve the care of children under 3 years old in its countries of intervention. The aim is to give children, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds, the chance of a better future.
Our areas of intervention in favor of early childhood :
- The creation of kindergartens and nurseries for children who do not have access to them. In Burkina Faso, for example, we are working with the government to creation of a network of childcare assistants.
- The development of materials, educational games and the training of educators. Our ambition with the Burkinabe government, for example, is to train all 721 kindergarten teachers in the country.
- Educating parents to stimulate, protect and care for their children.
- Close collaboration with local government and civil society to make early childhood services a priority.
To go further :
> Access to school in disadvantaged areas :
September 5, 2019