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Civil service, a weapon against dropping out of school

[Lomme, commune associée de Lille, Nord, 28 100 hab.]

The original school re-entry platform that combines classes and civic service has welcomed a dozen students in Lomme, an affiliated municipality of Lille, since September 2021. The city of Lille (and Lomme) through its global education project National education through colleges and secondary schools in Lomme and the local mission of Lille have proposed this project “Network of secondary schools in Lille” (Lirel) to ensure that they leave their studies early. Students will return to school or a training course in a very personalized way, explains Olivier Caremelle, deputy mayor of Lomme, responsible for combating early school leaving.

“It’s about finding invisible students and offering them the opportunity to return to the school world and at the same time perform civic service that will allow them to receive compensation,” the elected representative specifies. Young people aged 16 or 17 who have not attended school for at least a year are eligible for this scheme. They are noticed by the local mission, which introduces them and offers them integration.

In September 2021, thirteen students joined the first “Lirel Class” at the Sonia-Delaunay Vocational High School in Lomme. A secondary school teacher of literature and history is sent to supervise the system. “School time is organized differently, with innovative pedagogy,” says school principal Valérie Borragini. Instead of forcing students to adapt to the school environment, she adapts to their needs, she adds.

An original and promising formula

On Mondays and Tuesdays, students attend classes in French, mathematics, history, moral and civic education, and visual arts. In this matter, affected persons, such as members of the Council of Elders of Lomme, can come and give testimony about the historical event. Tuesday afternoon is dedicated to cultural and sports activities. Psychosocial skills are also worked on, such as self-esteem, as well as managing stress and emotions, as well as motivational support. On Wednesdays and Thursdays, the young people are on “commitment”, in civic service in a local association that, for example, collects equipment for childcare for poor families, a sports club or Restos du Coeur…

On Friday, a place to immerse yourself in society, to discover the technical platforms and training paths of neighboring secondary vocational schools, to look for internships or to remobilize professionally with local actors. The week ends with a balance sheet. “We are trying to bring out the talents of students, to redefine professional projects”, underlines Valérie Borragini.

The combination of academic support in an atypical form and civic engagement through civic service is a rather promising formula, according to Sylvia Condette, a teacher and researcher in the field of educational sciences at the Cirel laboratory at the University of Lille.

Motivational awakening

He thinks that for these young school leavers “we have to imagine other educational approaches”, less monotonous and more individualized than here. He continues, civic service also mobilizes “commitment and values” that are likely to motivate young people.

“Social utility, even social integration, can help them think about new perspectives and project themselves” at the end of the year, but maybe even later because “it takes time to build motivation,” he adds. By the beginning of the 2022-2023 school year, the system should be extended to the entire agglomeration.

Contact: “educational” department of the city of Lille, 20.3.49.50.00.

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