Alain Séré, France
Inspector General, Economics and IT, Ministry of Education
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Extending the Reach and Impact of Education
Committed to education his entire career, Alain Séré's professional path began as a teacher of economics and management to high school students, followed by instructing university students in Information Technology (IT). He served as Education Inspector in the French region of Brittany and later in Burgundy before joining the Ministry of Education as Inspector General in 1999. As Inspector General for Economics and IT in the Ministry of Education, Séré is in charge of the curriculum and training methods for Information and Communications Technology (ICT) in France.
Although the French educational system has enabled the younger generation to achieve much higher levels of education than that of their parents and grandparents, increases in the education level have stalled. Séré and his colleagues are working to increase the number of students pursuing higher levels of education—especially in ICT. These efforts are part of France's strategy of fostering employment growth by promoting jobs based on technical knowledge and innovation.
Encouraging Additional Education
Séré says: "Our goal is that by 2012, 50 percent of our students will obtain a higher-education diploma. We know that there is a kind of glass ceiling beyond which it is difficult to raise the general level of education and qualification/preparation for careers, but we are working to overcome that barrier."
Séré explains some of the reasons for this barrier: "Education limitations often stem from the social background of students. Some students do not manage to go beyond their own lack of ambition or self-censorship. So far, the French educational system has not been able to successfully address the effects of social inequalities on educational success." The cost of education is another limiting factor. Education is often one of the first areas to suffer in a context of economic crisis, which also has an adverse effect on motivation. "In difficult times, it is hard to believe in a brighter future," says Séré.
Break-Through Goals for French Education
To break through this glass ceiling, the French Ministry of Education is focused on accomplishing the following by 2020:
Networking Academy Contributes to France's Educational Goals
In 2000, Séré began a search for "industrial partners who provide content and processes for training and certification that are not only compatible with our objectives, but also proactive in their application." He learned of Cisco Networking Academy and sponsored the training of 100 Networking Academy instructors.
Séré finds the teacher training and e-learning components of Networking Academy particularly compelling for innovation in teaching and learning: "Networking Academy permits us to direct the competencies of teachers and trainers, and it creates a supple pedagogy, which is well-adapted to lifelong learning. The modalities of distance learning are well suited to the double constraints of the semi-permanent modernization of knowledge and the budgets available for training."
Students Reap Rewards
Séré also appreciates the benefits of Networking Academy for students: "Students' curriculum vitae are enriched and they are prepared to pursue further training, potentially for a diploma of higher learning."
Pascal Moussier, at the Lycee Maxmilien Sorre in Cachan, near Paris, says: "Students are attracted to Networking Academy by the new model of learning, including Packet Tracer simulations, and the prospect of certification in addition to their diploma." Of the Networking Academy graduates in Cachan, 90 percent advance to higher education while the rest of the graduates proceed to ICT jobs. Moussier reports that all of the students in Cachan who have attained Networking Academy certification have secured ICT employment.
Valued Partnership for ICT Teaching and Learning
Cisco Networking Academy started in 2001 in France, and it continues to be well received. By the summer of 2011, 20 percent of French schools have initiated local Networking Academy courses, with 1500 students and 350 instructors. Another 200 instructors are in the process of being trained.
According to Séré: "Teachers, students, and professionals are positive about Cisco Networking Academy. This comes from the quality of the company's solutions and from the character and professionalism of the people who have brought Networking Academy to our country. Our teachers have benefited from the online availability of Network Academy course material, in addition to our own publications."
This year saw a further extension of the partnership with Cisco. Séré has involved Cisco in a new reform of its national IT diploma, which could add as many as 180 new local academies.