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The CEB contributes to the advancement of a new vision for education in Seine-Saint-Denis, France

18 October 2019

Paris - The Council of Europe Development Bank (CEB) met with the Department of Seine-Saint-Denis officials, representatives of the Ministry of Education in France and Académie de Créteil as well as with several lower secondary school principals and education specialists from the OECD, UNESCO and the EIB, to discuss its review of recent education investments in Seine-Saint-Denis. The CEB supported the investments with a €200 million loan, approved in June 2014.

Rosa María SÁNCHEZ-YEBRA ALONSO, CEB Vice-Governor, chaired the meeting. She placed the investments in Seine-Saint-Denis in the context of the Bank’s commitment to support the modernisation of the education sector in Europe, which amounts to more than €7 billion since inception. She also detailed the important role of the Thematic Reviews – a recent initiative in the Bank – to enrich the knowledge base linking education infrastructure investments and learning outcomes and thus to support the development of  projects with a higher social impact, in accordance with its mandate.

The findings of the report – published yesterday on the CEB website as School Design and Learning Environments in Seine-Saint-Denis, France– focused on several lower secondary schools built to date under Plan exceptionnel d’investissement (2010-2015)andPlan Ambition Collèges (2015-2020), a total €1.3 billion investment dedicated to the modernisation, retrofitting, and construction of lower secondary schools.

The report acknowledges the excellent quality of the construction and retrofitting works, of the IT and teaching equipment, and of the sport and restauration facilities and appreciates the care taken to ensure access for students with disabilities. It also suggests some future design adjustments and several means to ensure that teachers and students make full use of the pedagogical potential of the innovative spaces already available.  The Centres for Knowledge and Culture that exist today in every new building provide  learning areas of different sizes,  include transparency, are rich in technological resources, and thus already provide an innovative learning environment that serves students’ individual learning styles and the different pedagogical objectives while facilitating  social interaction.

Emmanuel CONSTANT, Vice-President of the Seine-Saint-Denis Department in charge with education, thanked the CEB for the financial support to the Department’s investment programme as well as for the critically constructive perspective offered by the review, which would allow them to improve and strengthen existing and future investments. He also emphasised the overall community improvements brought about by the new schools, in addition to their direct impact on teachers and students, as these replaced derelict industrial infrastructure and hence transformed the urban landscape for the better.

Frédéric CORRIOL, Deputy Director of the Department of Education and Youth, introduced the overall investment programme and next steps, referring also to the suggestions made by the CEB Report, while principals of the lower secondary schools included in the review mentioned the challenge posed by a high staff turnover in the schools they manage and the need for resources and programmes for teachers to be trained themselves in the use of the new spaces and modern learning practices. The principals also provided examples of transformations of their school environments, which were enabled by the new infrastructure, and welcomed the idea of teachers being actively involved in the modernisation of their lower secondary schools.

Sidi SOILMI, Project Director – School Infrastructure, and Yves BEAUVOIS, from the Education General Directorate of the Ministry of National Education and Youth, found the report and the discussion opportune and useful for some of the Ministry’s initiatives that are currently being planned and will be operationalised in the immediate future. These will improve the way school infrastructure is conceived in France and the opportunities offered to teachers to continuously improve their knowledge and skills.

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CONTEXT

The Department of Seine-Saint-Denis

The Department of Seine-Saint-Denis is one of the most densely populated and most socially diverse departments in France. The Department’s population has been growing at an average rate of almost 1% for the past two decades and a total growth of 8.7% in the last eight years. It is estimated that there will be 1 855 000 inhabitants by 2050, representing a 19.5% increase since 2013. Almost a quarter of all children (23%) in Seine-Saint-Denis live in mono-parental households, 34.1% of which are below the poverty line, and the Department faces high unemployment rates - 11.9% in 2017 compared to the 9.4% for France; and 21% for those between 15 and 24 years of age (compared to an average of 15.9% in Ile-de-France).

The Review

The thematic review of the Seine-Saint-Denis investments was prepared by Yael DUTHILLEUL (Education Technical Advisor, CEB) in collaboration with Raffaella CARRO (Education Researcher, Italian National Institute for Documentation, Innovation and Education Research), Reino TAPANINEN (Chief Architect, Finnish National Agency for Education) and Kristina MASLAUSKAITE (Economist, CEB).

 Innovative Learning Environments

The concept is associated to a new vision for education predicated on the creation of a learning continuum, or a total environment for learning. It represents a move away from traditional classrooms with rows of desks, chalkboards and a set of finite intervals (classes) for teacher-driven study. Apart from fostering education achievements, the new environments are meant to allow for an easier appropriation of the school space by students and their families and thus contribute to the creation of a wider community focused on the school.

Set up in 1956, the CEB (Council of Europe Development Bank) has 41 member states. Twenty-two Central, Eastern and South Eastern European countries, forming the Bank's target countries, are listed among the member states. As a major instrument of the policy of solidarity in Europe, the Bank finances social projects by making available resources raised in conditions reflecting the quality of its rating (AA+ with Fitch Ratings, outlook positive, AAA with Standard & Poor's, outlook stable and Aa1 with Moody's, outlook stable). It thus grants loans to its member states, and to financial institutions and local authorities in its member states for the financing of projects in the social sector, in accordance with its Articles of Agreement.

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  • SSD Thematic Review cover
    School design and learning environments in Seine-Saint-Denis, France
    Main findings and recommendations resulting from a review of education infrastructure investments in the Department of Seine-Saint-Denis, France, carried out by the CEB’s Technical Assessment & Monitoring Directorate. Published: October 2019 Download
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