L’École Française Internationale de Jeddah a unique mosaic of cultures

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Author: Maya Jarjour | Arab News

Thursday 14 July 2011

L’École Française Internationale de Jeddah, also known as the French International School of Jeddah, is a private nonprofit establishment that is managed by an association of students’ parents and auto-financed by the income generated from school fees paid by the families.

A secular French educational institution, “L’École Française Internationale de Jeddah,” is the only school in Jeddah with a French curriculum accredited by the French Ministry of Education as well as by L’Agence de l’Enseignement Français à l’Étranger (AEFE).
Its educational program is based on the classic French education system while proposing a linguistic and cultural opening on Saudi Arabia and the English-speaking world.
The school applies the French programs decided by the Ministry of Education in France. Furthermore, due to its agreement with the French government and through the Agency of French Teaching Abroad, the school benefits from an academic validation by the French Ministry of Education where students can obtain France's national secondary-school diploma, the French baccalaureate.
“Our curriculum is identical to that of France,” said Headmaster (“Proviseur”) Jéry Cerisier. “We prepare our students for a national baccalaureate diploma so that they can then go study in any Francophone country — be it France, Canada, Morocco, Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria or Lebanon.
Established in 1966 by the Geological and Mining Research Office — a well-established company in the country — L’École Française Internationale de Jeddah caters to students of all ages from kindergarten to high school. The divisions are as follows: kindergarten (ages 3 and up), elementary school (grades 1 to 5), middle school (grades 6 to 9) and high school (grades 10 to 12).
“In France, middle school and high school are separated and not found in the same establishment. But, here, we have all levels under one roof,” Cerisier pointed out.
School projects focus on the learning and acquisition of the French language through initiating different support actions — tailored support for pupils in need as well as well as individual contracts.
The school boasts of labs for language, computers, chemistry and physics, besides a technology room and the Sciences of Life and Earth. According to Cerisier, on average there are 25 students per class.
Apart from French, students are obliged to take English and Arabic courses as well, which depending on the student’s level, varies from two to five hours a week.
In addition to English and Arabic, middle school students choose between learning Spanish or Latin. At the end of middle school, pupils sit for the National Brevet Diploma, corrected by teachers of the Academy of Lyon, which send the exam questions by diplomatic pouch.
In the last year of high school, pupils prepare for a high school diploma of Economic and Social Sciences or Scientific Section or Literature Section. The exams take place in Jeddah, but answer sheets are corrected in Abu Dhabi by French teachers coming from other French schools in the region.
“We only choose teachers with high qualifications,” said Cerisier. “Our teaching approach is to only use books as support. We care more about the method of teaching using computers, projectors and other tools.”
Cerisier pointed out that the French system is very different from the American one. “We are very different. Here, in the French school, studies are more important to us than student activities. We do offer activities, but not much, which is in contrast to the American system.”
Even though it is a French school, only 20 percent of the students have French nationality, said Cerisier. The school boasts of a multicultural student population of 1,200 students from 37 nationalities.
The French Cultural Service in Riyadh is the supervisor of the French International School of Jeddah as well as the French Consulate General in Jeddah, which acts as the sponsor of the staff appointed by France.

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