Author Archives: Gilles Dowek

Informatics in French schools

What is your name? What do you do? Where are you from?

My name is Jean-Pierre Archambault, I am the president of EPI, the
french informatics teacher society. I have taught mathematics all my
career and also informatics for many years. (More in French here http://www.epi.asso.fr/biblio/jpa_biographie_2014-06.htm).

Is there an informatics teaching at K-12 level in France?  If so
at which level and it is mandatory or optional? How many students take
this courses? What does the curriculum look like? Who teaches it? Do
you have informatics teachers in France or is it taught by teachers of
other disciplines?

JPA: Since 2012, there has been an optional course “Informatics and digital
sciences” for twelfth grade students with a major in science. It is
offered in a third of the french high schools and students have a
choice between four courses (advanced mathematics, advanced physics,
advanced biology or introduction to informatics). About 15 000
students have chosen this course this year. The curriculum involves
algorithms, programming languages, information theory, computer
architecture and networks.  The curriculum has been translated to
English there:
http://www.epi.asso.fr/blocnote/OverviewoftheFrenchISNSyllabus.pdf

The high school mathematics curriculum also involves a small part on
mathematical algorithms, with a glimpse of programming (tests and
loops, but neither functions nor arrays, for instance).

Besides that, there is also some informatics contents in technical and
vocational schools, but informatics is not identified as a topic per
se there.

There are no informatics teachers in France, so informatics is always
taught by teachers of others topics.

Is there any computer literacy teaching at K-12 level in France?
If so, at which level and it is mandatory or optional? How many
students take this courses? What does the curriculum look like?

JPA: All middle school students should obtain a certificate called
“Informatics and Internet” at the end of ninth grade. But there are no
courses in schools to prepare this certificate.

Is there an informatics teacher society in France?

JPA: Yes, the EPI (whose name means: Informatics in Public Sector
Education).  It has followed the ups and downs of informatics teaching
in France since 1971. It is presented there
http://www.epi.asso.fr/association/epi_presentation_en.htm

How has the situation evolved in recent years?

JPA: During the eighties, informatics was an optional topic offered in half
of the high schools. It was working very well and about to be
generalized to all schools. But it has been suppressed in 1992, then
recreated in 1995 and suppressed again in 1998.

It has then been replaced by this computer literacy certificate called
“Informatics and Internet”.  But, in my opinion, this approach aiming
at developing computer literacy through the use of computers in other
topics has been a failure.

What are the main successes and failures of K-12 informatics
teaching in France?

JPA: The optional informatics courses of the eighties has been a success,
as well as the introduction of programming in Logo in elementary
schools.  There has been also some positive evolution of technology
classes in middle schools in recent years.