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France profonde

France's elitist education system is not preparing future politicians for the complexities of governance. But some grandes écoles graduates are re-educating their peers

By Tim King   August 2006

The higher education system in France can be seen as a process of distillation—a series of competitive national exams leading to ever more exclusive schools. At the apex is the Ecole nationale d’administration (ENA)—a select handful of people who will govern and administer the country. Increasingly, however, many feel these exam-freaks are incapable of solving France’s major problems: principally unemployment and poverty. Simmering discontent at the lack of democratic dialogue drives a popular desire “to do politics differently,” according to Pierre Rosanvallon, president of the think tank La République des Idées. In May, 8,000 people gathered in Grenoble for a…

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