Intercultural education does not exist as such in France. Nevertheless, cultural diversity is entirely present in all cultural training and schooling, and many institutions, bodies and programmes are specialised in the cultural and artistic expressions of the world (see chapter 1.4). Many associations promote the arts and cultures of the world, with the support of local, national and European public authorities.
Furthermore, different specific curricula, available in some public schools, encourage the reinforcing and deepening of knowledge and practice of foreign languages and cultures.
International sections (Sections internationales SI)
Since 1981, international sections (special sections within regular schools) welcome French and foreign pupils, in primary, middle and high school. They exist for the following languages: German, American, English, Arabic, Chinese, Danish, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Dutch, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian and Swedish. The foreign teachers, who are usually assigned by their home State authorities, work in their native language for specific courses: mainly history, geography and literature of the concerned country, but also in mathematics. The curricula are established in dialogue with the educational authorities of the concerned country. Diplomas (brevet at middle school and baccaulauréat at high school) bear the indication “international option”. In the school year 2012, 88 international sections were opened in primary schools, 141 in middle schools and 139 in high schools.
Binational sections (Sections binationales)
It is possible to sit two high school diplomas simultaneously: Abibac (baccaulauréat and German “Abitur”), Bachibac (baccaulauréat and Spanish “Bachiller”), Esabac (baccaulauréat and Italian “Esame di Stato”). In these sections (available in some regular schools) the pupils have a specific curriculum that is developed with the partner country. In 2012-2013, 72 French schools and 68 German schools prepared students for the AbiBac. Besides, since the fortieth anniversary of the treaty of Élysée in 2003, 22nd January is celebrated as “French-German Day”. Schools in France and Germany are invited to organise multidisciplinary activities around the language of the partner.
European sections or Oriental languages sections (Sections européennes ou de langues orientales, Selo)
The European and Oriental languages sections propose, in middle and high schools, a strengthened learning programme of a foreign language and culture. The European sections are proposed in 7 languages: German, English, Spanish, Italian, Dutch, Portuguese, and Russian. The Oriental languages sections exist in Arabic, Chinese, Japanese and Vietnamese. About 5 800 sections are distributed all over the territory, representing 275 000 pupils in 2010-2011. The high school diploma baccaulauréat bears the indication “European section” or “section of oriental language”.
Teaching of native languages and culture (Enseignements de langue et de culture d’origine Elco)
This programme is based on bilateral agreements with foreign countries, which proceed from a European directive of 25 July 1977 aimed at the schooling of children of migrant workers. The teaching of native languages and culture is provided between 6 and 18 years, three hours per week, to pupils on the request of their families. Algerian, Croatian, Spanish, Italian, Moroccan, Portuguese, Serbian, Tunisian or Turkish teachers can teach the courses and are assigned by their respective governments. In 2010-2011 this system involved more than 86 000 pupils.