France puts art in the big picture

January 25, 2002

The arts will play a greater part in mainstream university studies following an agreement signed last week by education minister Jack Lang and culture minister Catherine Tasca.

The agreement brings into force the second part of a government plan to integrate arts and culture throughout the education system. The two ministers launched part one, covering schools from nursery to secondary level, in December 2000.

Mr Lang said the plan had three objectives: "To adapt studies to developments in the world of art and culture, and to students' new expectations; to improve the structure and content of teacher training; and to increase the intellectual, cultural and artistic influence of our higher education establishments."

Students will be able to include courses in such artistic areas as theatre, cinema, music, painting and sculpture in their university studies. But Mr Lang indicated that diplomas should also be geared towards the world of work.

He said: "In all cultural fields, the professional licence [equivalent to a bachelor's degree] will offer students clearly identified job opportunities. There are many examples - in dance, the book trade, multimedia, design."

In teacher training, Mr Lang wants the plan to encourage "a breeding ground of young art and music teachers who will revitalise the arts for children by involving them in activities such as singing in a choir or digital design".

He also announced he would introduce an option that would allow trainee secondary teachers to specialise in art history.

For postgraduate studies in cultural fields, it was necessary to broaden courses to make it easier for students to adapt to changing professions, Mr Lang said.

With the imminent introduction of a degree system based on modules and credits, advanced courses could include extended professional training or a period in a university or cultural organisation abroad, Mr Lang said.

The agreement was also intended to strengthen links between institutions from the two worlds of culture and education, both for research projects and "to make it easier for students to move freely between art courses provided by the universities, and those that depend on the ministry of culture", Ms Tasca said.

Architectural schools, a culture ministry responsibility, were symbolic of such connections, she said. In future a number of their diplomas would be authorised jointly by the two ministries.

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