its former director and Science-Po Lille boss reacts

Emmanuel Macron announced this Thursday, April 8, the abolition of the ENA. The Honorary National School of Administration will become the Public Service Institute, ISP, in 2022. Key changes: More diversified recruitment and less separation of senior civil servants from the field.

The President of the Republic (2002-2004 nomination) promised after the yellow vest crisis: he is removing the ENA, the symbol of high administration, considered elitist, Parisian, untouchable, sure of it. A revolution designed to change the image of a corporation that many citizens consider the aristocracy of the Republic.

Future advances of the ISP will have to go through the blending of a common core of education with 13 other major schools that train state administration students. As a result, the classification will no longer give either rights or choice: everyone will have to suffer with the field for several years, preferably in the provinces, before possibly joining a large state corps. Recruitment will be diversified to attract young people from humble backgrounds and with more diverse profiles.

Very “local” competition

Pierre Mathiot, director of the Institute for Political Studies (IEP) of Lille, commonly known as Sciences-Po, is directly interested in this reform. In more than one way. First, because the ENA is paying him – him and other IEPs in France – a subsidy of 30,000 euros per year to fund the cost of preparing for his competitions. The competition is “external”, that is, intended for students.

“I think that this program will be continued, hopes Pierre Matio. It will no longer be ENA, but the school that will replace it. The reform does not abolish training for senior civil servants.

Sciences-Po Lille has also been “democratizing” for fifteen years: approaching middle and high school students in the region from humble backgrounds so they can integrate into Lille’s establishment to prepare for great competitions. . Including the ENA. This “democratization” failed. Inequality is growing. In France, the social elevator works even worse than it did fifty years ago.

“This ENA competition is very ‘social'” explains Pierre Matio. It succeeds with what I call “heirs”: children whose parents are themselves high-ranking civil servants, with a very traditional culture, special social norms. form of social reproduction.

We think of Marguerite Berard, Major of the Senghor promotion at ENA, Emmanuel Macron. An enark family spanning several generations, from father to son and from mother to daughters. His father, Jean-Michel Berard, himself an enarque, was appointed prefect of Nord-Pas-de-Calais in 2008. Her husband, Thomas Andrieu, is also an enark and the son of a prefect… A model. “This is social reproduction Pierre Mathiot continues, mainly benefits boys. Sciences-Po Lille is between 65 and 70% girls, but most of those who pass the ENA competition are boys.

Lost in the sands of the market

Among the politicians of the Hauts-de-France, Marie Francoise Bechtel no doubt the ENA can best comment on this reform. This Chevenementist was a deputy for Aisne in the constituency of Soissons from 2012 to 2017. But above all, she directed the National School of Management from 2000 to 2002. First woman to hold this position.

“This is General de Gaulle, with the support of the Communistsshe insists who created the ENA immediately after the war, precisely in order to take away the affairs of state from the bourgeois elite, who did not necessarily shine during the occupation. And this democratization worked well until the 1980s, when the proportion of humble students fell and the school became more socially elitist. My explanation is that the vision of the state has also changed since the 1980s. We are plunging into globalization. Eduard Balladur nationalizes. Utilities get lost in the sands of the market. Utilities are dwindling. The state gradually loses control over things, and the new servants of the state adapt to this new situation. The original ideal that wanted to mix the elites is disappearing. This is the return to the ENA of the bourgeoisie with more and more students from business schools.

Marie-Françoise Bechtel, who finished fourth in François Hollande and Ségolène Royal’s famous Voltaire program in 1980, admits that this drift did not “stretch her eyes” when she took over the reins of the school. She regrets it. “I was not bothered by this drift,” she admits in retrospect and candidly. — I should have seen that the problem came from Sciences-Po Paris, in particular, our main supplier of students (35 out of 40 admitted to the ENA in 2010!) These students came to us already “formatted”, prepared for globalization, international economy, communication. Students who do not have complexes in relation to the world of money. We had a hard time getting them out of it.”

pick locks

Today, Pierre Matiot is particularly struck by what he calls the “self-censorship” of fellows. “It’s like these students felt that these prestigious competitions weren’t for them, that they didn’t come from the same background, that they were born on the wrong side of the fence. They don’t have a sense of legitimacy. An example of one of my students, very brilliant, from a very humble background, who had just passed the competition for hospital directors. On her first try. Second at the national level. She could have tried ENA. She had enough funds. Clearly, she didn’t dare. The effect of censorship.”

Confirmation at Jacquard High School in Caudry, north. In December last year, Jérôme Barbeau, a student of the National School of Management, visited the establishment while doing an internship at a local company.

“He was able to testify to his experience of working with our best second, first and last year students, says Francis Vera, principal of the school. Jerome Barbeau began to explain to them that he himself was from the provinces, that he was not from the west of Paris, like 60% of his class. He told them that they too could succeed. Since then, the reviews have been excellent. This meeting awakened desires. Ambition is born. The locks were broken. The students chose to integrate the IEP.

Jacquard High School has just over 800 students. 50% are scholarship holders, 60% come from dysfunctional families. “Our students often lack ambition, laments Francis Vera. Even the good ones. Because life in Codri is reassuring. Because leaving worries the family. Because mobility problems quickly arise. Because preparing for the Grandes Ecoles seems expensive and unattainable.

In fact, the children of top executives are, on average, twelve times more likely to attend ENA than the children of workers and employees. This ratio in the active population is reversed.

Get to the root of the problem

How will the ISP work, the new school of administration?

Pierre Matio warns. “Nevertheless, it will be necessary to preserve the anonymity of the candidates. The ENA was created in 1945 in response to the endogamous dysfunctions of senior civil servants. During oral tests, the children of their colleagues stood in front of the examiners. or their friends. Then we were among ourselves. Under the pretense of positive discrimination, we must not fall into this trap again.

Former member Aisne is even more dubious. She regrets the abolition of the ENA, but is pleased that the new school will be called the Institut du Service Public. “It is not the school that needs to be changed. The first question that the state should ask itself is what is its vision for the future of public services. Otherwise, it is useless. Even the democratization of the school will be useless. This is not because a young high-ranking civil servant will come out of a modest environment, he will not be an ardent defender of the market. The state must eradicate evil.”

ENA cancellation announcement comes two months after Emmanuel Macron’s launch Talent Development Plan, designed to create preparatory classes for French administrative competitions, for scholarship holders. 1000 places in France at the beginning of the 2021 academic year, 1700 next year.
ENA left Paris for Strasbourg in 2005. No new moves. The Institute of Public Services will remain in Alsace.

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