“Improving the performance of the education system without widening the deficits will be one of the challenges of the five-year term”

Lhe candidates for the French presidential election of 2022 have all presented measures in favor of education: increase in teaching hours, the number of teachers, salaries, splitting of primary classes, public school support mechanisms. These measures would lead to an increase in the national education budget. Given the stakes, it is important to compare our system with that of other developed countries in order to assess the relevance of this expenditure.

We will successively look at four criteria: the weight of public expenditure devoted to education, the staff-to-staff ratio, the remuneration of teachers, and the level of teaching performance. Firstly, France is one of the developed countries where the weight of public expenditure on education in the GDP is the highest: 4.5%, against 4.1% on average in the OECD (Organisation for Cooperation and economic development).

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Germany devotes only 3.6% of its national wealth to public spending on education. However, secondly, the supervision ratio (number of pupils per teacher) is relatively higher in France. In 2018, a French primary school teacher supervised 19.2 pupils, the highest rate in the European Union (average of 13.6). The gap is smaller in secondary (13.3, compared to 12 in the EU) and in higher education (16.2, compared to 15.3), but still remains higher in France.

France ranked 10th out of 18 EU countries

Germany, whose education system is less expensive, has a much better supervision rate: 15.3 in primary education and 12 in higher education. This finding has led the French government to split CP and CE1 classes in priority education areas. Third, French teachers enjoy relatively low salaries. At the start of their career, the teachers in our high schools receive 27,700 euros annually.

At 10and rank of the 18 EU countries selected by Eurostat, they earn less than the Swedes (€37,900), the Danes (€50,300) or the Germans, who earn twice as much (€58,500). At the end of their career, French teachers are in 9th place and the Germans are still the best paid (€82,000).

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Finally, French primary school pupils have lower levels of reading comprehension than the OECD average (PIRLS study). The overall score is 511 for France, 540 for the EU and 541 for the OECD. The observation is the same in the scientific field (survey Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study/TIMSS).

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