He interferes almost gropingly, this Thursday noon, in the small room transformed into a maths laboratory for the pupils of the nursery school of Menpenti, in Marseille. Pap Ndiaye distributes smiles and shy nods before leaning on the schoolchildren of large section who are agitated, in an amusing mimicry, with Emmanuel Macron. For his second official trip, the first in the company of the Head of State, the new Minister of National Education is making his mark. “He is eagerly awaited, including by myself”, slips Benoît Payan, the socialist mayor of the city, referring to this minister with a profile clearly identified on the left, an academic steeped in social and identity issues. “The change in style is very clear with its predecessor”, resumes Benoît Payan.
Except that Pap Ndiaye is more observer than actor for the time being. He is content to ask a few questions to the teachers, who are experimenting with a new method of learning through play and freedom of movement. “We can be better”, he simply allows himself, when the administrative delays of the National Education are mentioned. For the rest, he stands in the shadow of Emmanuel Macron, mute, including when the latter gives him the floor. “I chose Pap Ndiaye, he says, because his career, his trajectory say what I believe when I talk about the Republican school. Thanks to his parents and teachers, he had a destiny of excellence and he embodies equal opportunities. However, the Republic must look at itself and be built with respect for freedoms. A way to defuse the debate around a man whose right, in particular, has made his target.
And take control. Apart from a few tweets and a black anger against Gérald Darmanin after the failures of the Stade de France, during the final of the Champions League, Emmanuel Macron has remained since his re-election at the Élysée. An organized silence to show that he is at work with Elisabeth Borne, a slowing down of the media rhythm to try to anesthetize the legislative campaign. Except that the beginnings of this second five-year term, marked by record inflation and accusations of sexual violence against Minister Damien Abad, have darkened presidential communication. Giving the impression that not much is under control. And that commitments on purchasing power and pension reform are just empty words for the time being.
Determined to occupy space again, Emmanuel Macron flew to Cherbourg on Tuesday to look into hospital emergencies. A way to restore rhythm and silence the accusations of “power vacuum” coming from the Mélenchonists or the Lepenists. In Marseille, this Thursday, he went further. Coming to take stock of the new educational approaches unveiled during a speech at the Pharo last September, he stayed more than four hours in a school near the city center. Without ever mentioning the political angle, even if the chosen primary school, one of the 59 serving as a national laboratory for this “cultural revolution”, appears on the edge of two constituencies targeted by new symbolic faces of its majority.
If we want to keep our promises on education, we must accelerate.
In the small room where five-year-old children have fun making bee-shaped robots pass each other, he takes care of his image, takes the time to play with them, to say hello. “He’s the head of all the schools, can you imagine,” a kid blurts out. “I have the desire to find the salt of our republican school”, then summed up the Head of State, during a round table with the teachers under the chestnut trees of the courtyard. “If we’re going to deliver on our promises on education, we need to step up. Listening to questions of training or the inclusion of children with disabilities, he does not let Pap Ndiaye answer on the delicate subject of the recruitment of teachers by directors. “We were told that this reform was crazy, that all the taboos and blockages are there, smiles Emmanuel Macron. We didn’t even dare to utter the word autonomy. And then we see that mistrust has turned into mutual trust, that 59 projects have been born and that we are being asked to go further now. You have to move the furniture and the walls even more. »
Of course the unions continue to fear a “liberalization of education” or a “two-speed school”. Approaching the Pap Ndiaye symbol of him, the newly reelected president responds with “the school has the right to invent, to be more free, to be in the novelty. We start from the bottom to build equality of opportunity. He insists on the “Marseille laboratory”, wanting to “generalize” these experiments in the fall. Take this opportunity to announce the introduction of 30 minutes of sport in all schools and the return of an hour and a half of mathematics in the common core in first class at the start of the school year.
And as if that weren’t enough, he still spends almost an hour chatting with children in the yard. People from Marseille call out to him outside? Here he comes out for twenty minutes, taking the hands of a special educator talking about her autistic daughter, a young man in costume who wants to go into politics with him, a mother worried about her physio daughter. A campaign Macron.