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Cablegate: Bilateral Exchanges Between French University

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 PARIS 002680

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EUR/PPD; ECA/DAS (THOMAS FARRELL)

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KPAO OEXC SCUL FR
SUBJECT: BILATERAL EXCHANGES BETWEEN FRENCH UNIVERSITY
INSTITUTES FOR TEACHER TRAINING (IUFM) AND U.S. SCHOOLS OF
EDUCATION


1. SUMMARY: PUBLIC OPINION ABOUT THE UNITED STATES WITHIN
FRANCE'S YOUNGER GENERATION IS OFTEN NEGATIVE AND TENDS TO BE
MORE PRONOUNCED IN THE IMMIGRANT OR SECOND-GENERATION
COMMUNITY. THE FRENCH PUBLIC EDUCATION SYSTEM IS THE COMMON
MEETING GROUND FOR THIS YOUNGER GENERATION. UNFORTUNATELY,
THE QUALITY OF INFORMATION ABOUT THE U.S. WITHIN THIS SYSTEM
IS MIXED. ONE MISSION STRATEGY DESIGNED TO IMPROVE OUR IMAGE
IN FRANCE, IS TO ENCOURAGE MORE FORMAL LINKS BETWEEN THE U.S.
AND FRENCH TEACHING COMMUNITIES. POST REQUESTS WASHINGTON
FINANCING AND SUPPORT IN ORDER TO ESTABLISH A PROGRAM OF
STUDENT TEACHER EXCHANGES. BECAUSE AN INCREASING NUMBER OF
INDIVIDUALS FROM IMMIGRANT SOCIETIES, PARTICULARLY ARAB AND
MUSLIM COUNTRIES ARE NOW ENTERING THE TEACHING PROFESSION WE
BELIEVE THESE EXCHANGES WILL HAVE A DIRECT INFLUENCE ON
TEACHERS AND STUDENTS FROM THESE COMMUNITIES. THE PROPOSED
EXCHANGE PROGRAM WILL NEED SIGNIFICANT DEPARTMENT SUPPORT
DURING THE FIRST YEAR. IT WILL THEN BE SELF-SUPPORTING AND
SELF-ADMINISTERED. END SUMMARY.

2. PUBLIC OPINION ABOUT THE UNITED STATES IN FRANCE IS
COMPLEX AND VARIED. IT IS OFTEN SPLIT INTO A MORE POSITIVE
OPINION ABOUT THE UNITED STATES AND AMERICANS AND A LESS
POSITIVE OPINION ABOUT OUR GOVERNMENT'S POLICIES, AND IS
GENERALLY INFLUENCED BY THE RESPONDENTS' POLITICAL LEANINGS.
ATTITUDES TOWARDS THE U.S. AND AMERICANS OF THE BROADER FRENCH
SOCIETY ARE ALSO OFTEN SUBJECT TO A GENERATION GAP: AN OLDER
GENERATION STILL CONNECTED TO THE EVENTS OF WWII AND A YOUNGER
GENERATION WHOSE KNOWLEDGE OF D-DAY AND THE LIBERATION COMES
FROM TEXTBOOKS AND TEACHERS THAT OFTEN FAIL TO COVER THE
U.S.'S PIVOTAL CONTRIBUTION TO EUROPEAN FREEDOM. THE YOUNGER
GENERATION'S EMOTIONAL DISTANCE FROM THE U.S. IS OFTEN
COMPOUNDED BY A GENERALLY HOSTILE REACTION TO THE EVENTS IN
IRAQ AND A MEDIA IMAGE OF THE U.S. AS A SUPER POWER THAT USES
MILITARY MIGHT AND COMMERCIAL SUCCESS TO DOMINATE AND IMPOSE
ITS CULTURE.

3. [INR] OPINION POLLS AND POST'S OWN EXPERIENCES HAVE SHOWN
THAT WHAT IS TRUE FOR MAINSTREAM FRENCH OPINION IS EVEN MORE
PRONOUNCED IN FRANCE'S IMMIGRANT OR SECOND-GENERATION
COMMUNITY, STRUGGLING TO FIND A PLACE IN FRENCH SOCIETY. THIS
COMMUNITY TENDS TO HAVE NO POSITIVE HISTORICAL CONNECTION TO
THE U.S. AND TO MORE DEEPLY ACCEPT THE NEGATIVE STEREOTYPES
RECEIVED ABOUT THE UNITED STATES. THE U.S. INTERVENTION IN
IRAQ IS VIEWED THROUGH A PRISM OF MISUNDERSTANDING ABOUT U.S.
ATTITUDES TOWARDS ISLAM AND MUSLIMS AROUND THE WORLD. SUCH
FUNDAMENTALLY NEGATIVE ATTITUDES IMPEDE RECEPTIVITY TO USG
MESSAGES ON SUBSTANTIVE ISSUES.

4. THE FRENCH PUBLIC EDUCATION SYSTEM IS THE COMMON MEETING
GROUND FOR ALL OF THESE MEMBERS OF THE YOUNGER GENERATION.
UNFORTUNATELY, THE QUALITY OF INFORMATION ABOUT THE U.S.
WITHIN THIS SYSTEM IS MIXED. WHILE THE FRENCH MINISTRY OF
EDUCATION SETS OUT THE MAJOR LINES OF CURRICULUM CONTENT,
TEXTBOOKS ARE INDEPENDENTLY WRITTEN AND SELECTED, AND ARE
OFTEN INCOMPLETE OR NEGATIVE IN THEIR TREATMENT OF THE UNITED
STATES. IN ADDITION, MANY SCHOOLTEACHERS HOLD LEFT-LEANING
POLITICAL AND SOCIAL BELIEFS AND TEND TO PERCEIVE "U.S.
VALUES" NEGATIVELY. STILL OTHERS, MORE FAVORABLY INCLINED
TOWARDS US, COMPLAIN THAT THEY DO NOT KNOW ENOUGH ABOUT THE
U.S. AND THE ISSUES ASSOCIATED WITH OUR FOREIGN POLICY,
HISTORY, POLITICS, OR SOCIETY TO BE ABLE TO RESPOND
INTELLIGENTLY TO THEIR STUDENTS' QUESTIONS OR COMMENTS ABOUT
THE U.S., PARTICULARLY THE NEGATIVE ONES. ACCORDINGLY, A
MAJOR STRATEGY FOR PA FRANCE HAS BEEN TO FOCUS ON THE FRENCH
SCHOOL SYSTEM AND ON THE MEMBERS OF THE TEACHING PROFESSION.

5. ONE ASPECT OF THE MISSION'S STRATEGY IS TO ENCOURAGE THE
DEVELOPMENT OF MORE FORMAL LINKS LEADING TO SELF-SUSTAINING
EXCHANGES BETWEEN U.S. AND FRENCH TEACHERS AND STUDENT
TEACHERS TO DEEPEN THEIR SUBSTANTIVE KNOWLEDGE OF OUR COUNTRY
AND TO PROVIDE FIRST-HAND EXPERIENCE WITH OUR SOCIETY. DURING
HIS VISIT TO PARIS EARLIER THIS YEAR, ECA DAS TOM FARRELL MET
WITH FORMER DIRECTOR OF ONE OF THE UNIVERSITY INSTITUTES FOR
THE TRAINING OF TEACHERS (IUFM), WHO IS NOW A KEY ADVISOR TO
FRENCH MINISTER OF EDUCATION, FRANCOIS FILLON. THE DISCUSSION
FOCUSED ON THE POSSIBILITY OF ESTABLISHING A PROGRAM OF
STUDENT TEACHER EXCHANGES SIMILAR TO THOSE CURRENTLY TAKING
PLACE BETWEEN FRANCE AND THE UK. THE STUDENT TEACHERS WOULD
COME FROM VARIOUS FIELDS OF STUDY TO ENSURE THE BROADEST
OUTREACH THROUGHOUT THE FRENCH PUBLIC EDUCATION SYSTEM.

6. WHILE THERE IS NO MAGIC SWITCH THAT CAN BE TURNED ON TO
MAKE THE FRENCH BETTER APPRECIATE THE U.S. OR OUR POLICY, THIS
TYPE OF PROJECT CAN SIGNIFICANTLY CONTRIBUTE TO IMPROVING OUR
IMAGE IN FRANCE. THE TEACHERS WILL LEARN ABOUT THE UNITED
STATES AND DIRECTLY BENEFIT FROM EXPOSURE TO OUR CULTURE AND
SOCIETY, AND THEIR STUDENTS WILL BENEFIT FROM THIS INCREASED
KNOWLEDGE AND EXPERIENCE. A RECENT STUDY HAS SHOWN THAT AN
INCREASING NUMBER OF INDIVIDUALS FROM SECOND AND FIRST
GENERATION IMMIGRANT COMMUNITIES (PARTICULARLY ARAB AND MUSLIM
MINORITIES) ARE ENTERING THE TEACHING PROFESSION AS A WAY OF
IMPROVING THEIR SOCIO-ECONOMIC STATUS. THE PROPOSED EXCHANGE
PROGRAM WILL REACH THESE TEACHERS, WHO WILL HAVE DIRECT
INFLUENCE ON YOUNGER MEMBERS OF THESE COMMUNITIES.

7. AT THE TIME OF THE MEETING, THE FRENCH MINISTRY OF
EDUCATION EXPRESSED ITS WILLINGNESS TO CONTRIBUTE SUBSTANTIAL
FUNDING TO THE PROJECT FOR THE FIRST AND SUBSEQUENT YEARS IN
ORDER TO ENSURE THE LONG-TERM BENEFITS OF SUCH AN EXCHANGE
PROGRAM. WITH ECA FUNDING ADDED TO THE MINISTRY'S, THE
PROGRAM CAN BE LAUNCHED THIS YEAR. THE MISSION CONSIDERS THIS
IS AN EXCELLENT BILATERAL OPPORTUNITY THAT WILL RESULT IN
CONCRETE, SUSTAINABLE PROGRAMS AFFECTING OUR IMAGE IN FRANCE.
WOLFF

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