This week, as you might have read in the weekly memo, I am attending a conference for heads of French schools in the Asia-Pacific region. During the conference we are preparing for the national exams: the new version of the Brevet and the French Baccaluréat. (The Tintin fans can figure out where the conference is taking place when I say I took Flight 714.)

The conference is organised by the AEFE, an agency whose logo you will have spotted on all of our documents and with whom some of you may (or may not) be familiar. The AEFE (L’Agence des Etablissements Français de l’Etranger – Agency for French Education Abroad) is an agency of the French state, working under the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. It oversees a network of almost 500 schools with approximately 340,000 students around the world.

The AEFE guarantees the quality of the teaching dispensed by its member schools and ensures that all of the schools in the network follow the French National Curriculum, but it also does much more. More than acting as a simple guarantor of the quality of teaching dispensed in its schools, the AEFE has also set up an ambitious programme of collaboration and resource-sharing for its member schools; it is especially active in the areas of schools management, personnel training and exam preparation.

For the organisation of the national exams, the French schools in the Asia-Pacific region work closely with our partner, the Academy of Montpellier. Our priority is to ensure that the French exam rules and regulations are followed to the letter everywhere in the region, from New Delhi to Sydney, which is no small feat.

Amongst other things, we need to set exam dates that suit each school’s academic and local calendars, to organise the travel conditions for teachers who conduct the oral exams in their subject areas in different countries, to ensure uniform grading methods throughout the region and to guarantee optimum exam conditions for all of our students. It’s a long and complicated process, but it is made simpler by the fact that we pool our resources and work together.  Moreover, and most importantly, it guarantees that all of our candidates sit their exams equitably, whether they are in Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Seoul or elsewhere.

780 students will take the French Baccaluréat in the Asia-Pacific region this year, a small amount compared to the 14,000 AEFE students that passed the Bac throughout the world last year. 40% of last year’s AEFE’s Bac graduates were French nationals. This global percentage differs from region to region; the Asia-Pacific region has the highest number of French students by far, while a colleague tells me that in his previous school in South America, 90% of candidates came from the local community. In the French Section, 10 of our 11 Bac students are French this year.

This week, I would like to use this letter to thank of all my AEFE colleagues for their help in the development and growth of the French Section and for their support in ensuring that our students sit their Baccaluréat exams in the best possible of conditions.  The Lycée International in Hong Kong plays an essential role for us in the organisation of the Bac and I would particularly like to thank its Head of School, Christian Soulard,  and his team; it is largely thanks to them that we were able to open a Terminale class in the French Section.

Have an excellent weekend,

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