At National Education, Pap Ndiaye came under fire from critics

“He has not yet taken any action” and he is already the subject of strong political and personal attacks, commented on Sunday the deputy of the Minister for European Affairs, Clément Beaune, guest of the Grand Rendez-vous Europe 1 – CNews – Echos”, defending the appointment of Pap Ndiaye as Minister of National Education and Youth.

After the huge surprise of his appointment to the government of Elisabeth Borne, a wave of reactions fueled social networks this weekend. The far right has targeted the new education minister, who has been accused by Marine Le Pen and Eric Zemmour of seeking to “deconstruct” the country and described by RN executives as an “immigrationist militant”.

The awake ideology, a “scarecrow”

Born to a Senegalese father and French mother, this licensed 56-year-old researcher was appointed by Emmanuel Macron last year to head the Immigration Museum. Pap Ndiaye is a student of the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Saint-Cloud, a history graduate and holder of a doctorate from the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS). Pap Ndiaye is the older brother of the writer Marie NDiaye, prize Goncourt 2009.

Professor at Sciences Po and at the EHESS, he is considered a “measure” on issues related to minorities. “He’s someone who was innovative, was able to show a new way of understanding the past,” greeted colonization specialist historian Pascal Blanchard. His work on the black presence in France is groundbreaking. †

“On everything to do with minorities, he embodies orientations that are certainly not those pursued by Jean-Michel Blanquer,” said sociologist Michel Wieviorka. The awake ideology is “more of a scarecrow than a social or ideological reality,” Pap Ndiaye told Le Monde in January 2022. Far from criticizing his predecessor’s “Islamo-left”.

What to read a change of line of executive on these topics? “The line of the president and the government has not changed,” Clément Beaune puts into perspective, admitting only “shades of sensitivity, of expression” between the new minister and his predecessor.

Emmanuel Macron’s program “will be applied”

Clément Beaune insists that Emmanuel Macron’s program “will be applied” by the new minister, citing the strengthening of education in French and mathematics. But by backing Pap Ndiaye in these terms, he risks weakening him in the eyes of the unions, who are calling for a “break” with his predecessor.

Indeed, the main union of secondary education teachers, the Snes-FSU, has welcomed a “break with Jean-Michel Blanquer in more ways than one” with this appointment. But “National education is not ruled by symbols alone,” the union warned. The SNUipp-FSU and the SE-UNSA have expressed a desire to quickly “enter into a dialogue with him”.

Sensitive and heavy reforms

One of the new minister’s major projects is the revaluation of the teaching profession, while the recruitment crisis raises fears of a teacher shortage at the start of the next school year. How many teachers will accept the “pact” promised by the head of state? “If we want to move the institution, we have to be above 30%,” a close friend of Emmanuel Macron confided before his re-election. The task of the future minister will not be easy: if teachers have to replace, for example, more of their absent colleagues in order to earn more, this could lead to the annualization of a certain number of hours, a red flag for the unions – the working time of teachers in secondary is determined weekly.

Vocational Path Reform, another major project of Emmanuel Macron, also promises to be a sensitive topic, with potentially very tough upheavals for vocational teachers. This weekend, the name of Jean-Marc Huart, connoisseur of the professional path, was named to become the new minister’s chief of staff. He too has been criticized, even before he was mentioned, for his close relationship with Jean-Michel Blanquer, of whom he was number two between 2017 and 2019. Pap Ndiaye will need a lot of energy and patience to cool “hot topics”.

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