Posted on Friday April 3, 2020 | 7:49 a.m.
Updated 10 minutes ago
PARIS (AP) – For the first time in the history of France, students will not take this year the national end of high school exam known as the Baccalaureate, due to school closings due to the crisis coronaviruses.
Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer made the announcement on Friday. Many other European countries have already decided to postpone the exams.
This decision turned everything upside down for hundreds of thousands of French adolescents at a turning point in their lives.
Students spend their academic careers preparing for the rigorous exams in June of their final year. They are such a determining part of Frenchness that many adults write their bac results on their curriculum vitae.
Instead, students in the final year of secondary school will be able to obtain this qualification based on school marks before and possibly after the confinement period.
French schools have been closed since March 16 and students and teachers have had to switch to online learning. They won’t be able to reopen until May, if not later, said Blanquer.
A jury will examine their transcripts to guarantee fair conditions for the 740,000 students concerned. The question is sensitive in France, where the exam is a symbol of egalitarianism.
Born in 1808 under the domination of Napoleon, the Baccalaureate is the main diploma required to pursue university studies.
Even in wartime, it has been maintained, although the authorities have sometimes had to reorganize or postpone it.
It is also an important rite of passage: the results are broadcast simultaneously for everyone, and national television spends the day capturing tears of joy and disappointment when adolescents discover their results.
Unlike the United States, many European systems have traditionally focused on the final exam, while grades throughout the year are less meaningful.
Schools in the United States have canceled graduation ceremonies, robbing youth of all the memories associated with caps, dresses, speeches and celebrations.
Britain has canceled the GCSE exams that students take at 16 and the A-Levels that determine admission to university.
Schools were asked to provide predictions of the grades that students would have obtained, based on past performance, class work and other factors. This led to accusations of injustice.
The Czech Republic, Slovakia, Bulgaria and Serbia have all postponed the end of high school exams.
In Italy, the most affected country in Europe, the government has not yet made a final decision on the matter.
In Germany, the Abitur exam has been maintained so far.
Follow AP Coronavirus pandemic news at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
PA journalists Angela Charlton in Paris; Jill Lawless in London; Amer Cohadzic in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina; Colleen Barry in Milan; and Geir Moulson in Berlin contributed to this report.