France is one of the most diverse countries in the world and offers its inhabitants an amazing variety of landscapes, food and beverages, culture and activities. The country is also geographically very well situated and with the well developed transportation system you have an endless choice when it comes to travel destinations, national and international.
FRANCE IN SHORT
|21st/$37,653||GDP per capita IMF|
|11th||Euro Health Consumer Index|
|11,54||Expenditure on health % of GDP WHO|
|82,4 years||Life expectancy at birth WHO|
|5,5%||Expenditure on education|
|11th||European Happy Planet Index|
To understand how the French health care system works one first has to take a look at the French health insurance system. This insurance is financed by both employer and employee contributions as well as by personal income tax and it allows 96% of the population to access entirely free health care. The insurance also gives French residents the right to choose between diverse health providers such as general practioners, specialists, public or private hospitals and be reimbursed at a fixed rate for different procedures. On top of the statehealth insurance, 80% of the French population also possesses private supplemental insurance often provided by the employer. This insurance covers extra costs above the fixed rates set by the state for specific treatments. Health insurance is provided by the government to three major groups of the population: salaried workers and their families, farmers, and artists and business professionals. The types of expenditures by the government include general practitioners' fees, specialists' fees, medical prescriptions, public hospitals, private clinics, nursing professionals and sanitary transportation.
The Ministry of Health organizes the French health system through central, regional and departmental services via two major organizations: General Health Management and Hospital and Healthcare Management.
In France private and public structures coexist and the patients can freely access the different types of hospitals.
- The public institutions include regional hospitals (CHRs) and the local hospitals. The 29 regional hospitals, including 27 teaching and research hospitals, provide specialized care. The local hospitals provide routine healthcare.
- Private institutions can be either profit making or non-profit making. The non-profit institutions are run using the same management system as the public institutions and have the same public service brief.
France has an excellent child care system that is as close to universal as possible. From the age of birth to 2 ½ - 3 a child can be placed in either a Crèche (Communal Nursery) or in the home of an Assistante Maternelle (Nanny). Once a child reaches the ages of between 2 ½ - 3 he or she can be enrolled in an école maternelle (Pre-School).
The school system
French state education is well-organized, well-funded and with generally average to high standards in comparison to other European countries.
School is compulsory for all children between the ages of 6 and 16. The school-going population of about 13 million pupils is educated within a unified system, the general structure of which (schools, lower secondary schools and lycées) was gradually established in the 1960s and 1970s. The state system is complemented by a comprehensive network of private schools including international schools.
Although the curriculum and processes in state schools are reformed regularly, the system does benefit from a high degree of consistency across the country, and children of the same age can be expected to be studying the same subjects and textbooks at the same time. The recent introduction of the seven skills (see below) ensures a systematic approach to teaching.
There are three stages, each of three years duration, designed to enable pupils to improve at their own speed and reduce the number of repeat years. The current programmes are:
- Cycles des Apprentissages Premier
This relates to the first three years at Nursery School (Maternelle), age three to six
- Cycles des Apprentissages Fondamentaux
This relates to the final year at Nursery School and the first 2 years of Primary. The courses are known as CP (Cours Preparatoire) and CE1 (Cours Elementaire1)
- Cycles des Approfondissements
This cycle includes the balance of time spent at Primary School and includes the course CE2 (Cours Elementaire2), CM1 (Cours Moyen1) and CM2 (Cours Moyen2)
Flexibility has deliberately been built into the courses so that a child can move on to the next cycle even before the typical three year period has elapsed or take longer if need be.
In 2005 the government introduced the seven skills or competences that underlie teaching in primary and secondary schools.
Children are expected to have a command of these competences when they leave compulsory school. The seven skills are:
- Mastery of the French language
- Practical Knowledge of a living, modern language
- The basic elements of maths, science and technology
- Familiarity with the common techniques of communication and obtaining information
- The humanities
- Social and civic responsibility
- Autonomy and initiative
The French education system is highly oriented towards structured learning, with an emphasis on traditional teaching techniques designed to help pupils attain required standards and pass exams. With recent French government concern about basic literacy and numeracy standards among school-leavers, the emphasis on maths, reading, writing, science and French language is unlikely to change.
In general schools, the direction taken (repeating a year, moving to a higher class, changing streams) involves a procedure based on dialogue,within each school, between the school (teachers and administration) and the families and pupils. Teachers give their opinions at staff meetings (the 'conseil de classe'), and parents of pupils can appeal a decision they do not agree with.
The French education system is divided into Nursery Schools (Ecole Maternelle), Primary Schools (Ecole Primaire) and Secondary Schools (commencing with College) until age 15 when the next step is decided by examination. The top students will be able to attend a High School (Lycée) to study for the Baccalaureat. Those who don't attain the necessary grades at this stage may follow more vocational educational options . Around 80 percent of children continue their schooling beyond the age of 16.