Education: the ministry decides on the return of compulsory math in high school from the 1st to the start of the 2023 school year

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The reintroduction of compulsory mathematics education at the start of the 2023 school year for all high school students in the general stream in the first pay class is one of the most controversial measures of the Blanquer reform of the baccalaureate.

The Ministry of National Education announced this Sunday, November 13 the return of “compulsory” mathematics education at the start of the 2023 school year for all high school students in the general stream from the first class, completing one of the most controversial issues of the Blanquer reform. “It’s the return of the teaching of mathematics for all high school students”, welcomed the Minister of National Education, Pap Ndiaye in an interview with echoes published this Sunday.

Educational community, researchers, big bosses and politicians were concerned about the decline in the scientific pool as well as the strengthening of social and gender inequalities caused, since the reform implemented in 2019, by the disappearance of mathematics in the common core of subjects compulsory courses taught in first and final classes of the general stream.

“Mathematics Promotion Year”

An hour and a half of mathematics will be made compulsory for all first general students who have not chosen the mathematics specialty, said the Ministry of National Education in a press release. During the 2022 presidential campaign, the candidate Macron had promised the return of maths in the common core in the event of re-election, before recording this reintroduction from the start of the 2022 school year, but only as an option.

The announcement, which occurred a dozen weeks before the start of the school year, had been criticized for its haste and a small number of pupils had finally chosen this option during the 2022-23 school year. In addition to the timetable puzzle for school heads, there was also a human resources challenge for National Education against a backdrop of a shortage of teachers: where to find the teachers to ensure these new hours of teaching?

While discipline will now be compulsory for all at the start of the 2023 school year, Pap Ndiaye wants to be reassuring by quantifying the new needs at “400 to 425 positions, in full-time equivalents”. “It is possible”, he declares even if he does not exclude “adjustments”.

ud83dudc68‍ud83cudfeb Epilogue of a clear reversal in relation to the Blanquer reform: maths will be “compulsory” in first general from the start of the next school year, “in order to solidify the common training of all”.

2023 is even decreed “year of promotion of mathematics at school”.

— Nicolas Berrod (@nicolasberrod) November 13, 2022

This measure is part of a strategy led by the Minister of National Education Pap Ndiaye aimed at making 2023 “the year of promotion of mathematics” with two key objectives: “to reconcile all students” with this discipline and “promote equality between girls and boys”. In any case, it comes to complete a backpedaling of the executive initiated at the end of the first five-year term by his predecessor Jean-Michel Blanquer, who was nevertheless at the origin of the reform.

In March, a report was submitted to the ex-tenant of rue de Grenelle by a group of experts, recommending that mathematics be put back in the common core at the rate of 1:30 to 2:00 more per week.

“The reform is not upset”

This strategy declines a battery of measures including the establishment of groups with reduced numbers in mathematics in 6th grade or objectives such as that of parity between girls and boys by 2027 in the mathematics, physics-chemistry or mathematics specialties. reputedly the most selective experts. “It is a purely pragmatic plan. The reform of the high school is not upset”, justified Pap Ndiaye.

Since the high school reform in 2019 which put an end to the traditional L, ES and S series, mathematics was no longer part of the subjects taught to all high school students (the common core). Previously, even students in the literary stream benefited from teaching mathematics. Often assimilated to the keystone of academic success in high school, sometimes to the detriment of other subjects, mathematics had become a specialty education like a dozen other disciplines, left to the free choice of students.


In 2022, mathematics remained the most chosen specialty in terminale, by 37% of high school students, however down four points compared to 2021. In total, all types of education combined (specialty and options “complementary mathematics” and ” expert mathematics”), 55% of final year students studied math during the 2021-22 school year, outside of common core science education, according to figures from the Ministry of National Education. However, these pointed to strong disparities between girls and boys: only 46% of girls were still studying maths in the final year of all courses, and 26% as a speciality.

Although France is renowned for its tradition of excellence in mathematical research with 13 winners of the Fields medal often presented as the equivalent of the “Nobel for maths”, French pupils face increasing difficulties in learning discipline. Thus, a quarter of the students do not have the expected level in mathematics at the end of the third class, recalls the ministry in its press release.

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