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Bac Pro
Conclusions (> Conclusions)
National conclusions: France

Henri Eckert & Jean-Louis Kirsch
CEREQ, Marseille

November 1997 (edited January 2000)

Further study using the comparative approach
Interest in other experimentation
Parity of esteem
Integrating qualifications

Reference to national case study on FR: Bac Pro.

At the end of this joint study, we would like to stress three points:

  • the first deals with further comparative study of firms in countries that are most similar to the French situation;
  • the second is more an expression of interest in experimental systems being implemented that differ more from the French situation and for this reason present a very different approach to certain problems;
  • the third attempts to begin a discussion about the original principles of this work, namely those of ‘parity of esteem’  and ‘integrating qualifications’.
Further study using the comparative approach 

In light of the reports of the seven countries, we have been struck by the similarity that exists between situations in Great Britain, the Netherlands and France concerning the approach to the issue of how a diploma should provide access both to the labour market and pursuit of studies in higher education.
    Upon initial examination, the GNVQ system seems to be undergoing a change, perhaps a change of direction, as it abandons immediate entry into professional life for a preparatory function for higher education similar to that of the French technological baccalaureates. The MBO has preserved its professional vocation despite a gradual change in its original population, a change also observed in the population of professional baccalaureate students, but at the same time there is a stream (HAVO) that prepares students for higher professional education. Thus, there are links between the general stream and the technological and professional streams that deserve a more detailed comparative study that the objectives of INTEQUAL do not allow.
In addition to the above, the British and Dutch systems, in particular, allow a certain leeway with training time (advanced GNVQ, three and four years MBO courses), a possibility not provided by the French system, which would be interesting to examine in terms of the desire to develop life-long training programmes.
    Furthermore, the evaluation issue brought up by the GNVQs strongly highlights a certain number of issues in the French debate about certification and validation of  knowledge and, from a particular angle, clarifies the debate about the possibility of disassociating training and certification.

Interest in other experimentation 

Experimental systems presented by other countries are more recent. For this reason, they do not lend themselves to the same type of analysis as longer established systems, a difference which leads us to be interested more in monitoring their implementation than in the results of their application.
    Consequently, for the issues raised by the French system, the Norwegian and Swedish systems attract attention for two reasons:

  • In the Norwegian situation, the system offers gradual access to specialisation, beginning with ten basic professional specialties in the first year to nearly eighty in the second and two hundred in the third, developed through an original tree-like pattern. For French questions about the issues of cross discipline skills and defining core curricula, the model is an original approach that could bring together specialists of the two countries.
  • At the same time, the system of financial aid to the firms, during the third and fourth years of training is an interesting model when compared to the various French systems available to young people for training and facilitating the transition to professional life.
    German experimental programmes touch on the issue of integrating academic subjects with professional subjects, a very current debate in France that has been revived by the issue of validating acquired professional knowledge in the professional training system.
    Finally, the Austrian situation provides food for thought in the areas of training working adults, the role played by companies in this training and the recognition given to it by employers. Parity of esteem 

We are somewhat reluctant to use the notion of ‘parity of esteem’ within the framework of INTEQUAL, and it seems to us that in other countries the same reluctance is often felt. Creating a professional baccalaureate cannot be considered, strictly speaking, as the desire to establish a situation of equality for continuing studies between holders of this baccalaureate and those of the general or technological baccalaureate degrees. The repeated and proclaimed objective of the professional baccalaureate degree is above all to provide an entry into working life. Thus, it seems to us excessive to claim the parity of esteem as one of the reasons for creating this qualification.
    If we put aside the set of issues specific to French professional baccalaureate, the issue of parity of esteem sometimes leads to a paradoxical attitude. Parity of esteem tends to promote technological or professional training by increasing the number of general education courses in technological and professional training programmes. To do so is to admit that general education and technological or professional education do not have the same status since the former enjoys higher recognition than the latter two. Ultimately, one could even declare that the real proof of parity  of esteem would be introducing technological and professional training into general education and not the converse.
    In these circumstances, we believe that the notion of parity of esteem should be considered not as a natural explanation of these changes in training systems - and in particular technological and professional training - but as a subject of study to clarify these changes. Such a study requires using rigorous construction of the subject which presupposes at least two prior approaches:

  • defining the relationships between culture and technology and the variations that they encounter according to countries;
  • specifying the social status of workers and the images that young people have of them, particularly young people in the process or at the end of professional training.
Integrating qualifications 

About integrating qualifications, two points can be stressed:

  • In terms of programme and apprenticeship design, the question of integration is posed in two ways.  The first relates to the integration of traditional disciplines into coherent “magnets”. The second is related to the professional integration of knowledge acquired in the classroom and during training periods.
  • Underlying the necessary integration of knowledge, there are the dynamics of social inte-gration which challenge the traditional roles when educators from different disciplines must work together in teams, when a joint project is developed between this team and the firms hosting the students and when a contractual relationship is formed between the trainee, the educator and the advisors in the firms.

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