What is the actual national education budget? – You MiOni

Answer with Pierre-Yves Duwoye, former Rector of the Academy, former Secretary General of the Ministry of National Education, former Chief of Cabinet of Vincent Peillon and Honorary Chief Counsel of the Court of Auditors. Image: Getty

The Ministry of Education and Youth presents the first state budget. For 2024, it was expected to amount to 63.646 billion euros and benefit from a historical increase of 3.9 billion (+ 6.5%). This budget has been growing steadily since 2017, growing by 29% (or 14.3 billion euros) with a significant increase in recent years: between 2022 and 2024, it grew by 13.6% (+7.6 billion euros compared to +6.7 billion euros between 2017 and 2022). So, a significant budget.

Personnel costs, the largest part of the budget

“What is decisive are the staff costs, which must represent almost 90% of the budget,” declares Pierre-Yves Duwoye, former rector of the Academy, former secretary-general of the Ministry of National Education, former chief of staff of Vincent Peillon and honorary master advisor at the Court of Auditors. The budget that is voted and allocated to the Ministry of Education each year is likely to change depending on the number of retirements, resignations, etc. “This estimate is difficult to achieve and leads to a conflict over the figures between the Ministry of National Education which says it will need more money and The Ministry of Economy, Finance and Industrial and Digital Sovereignty which minimizes this need. Once the budget is voted, in order to maintain a margin of discretion, there is a rule that provides for the freezing of up to 10% of the Ministry’s approved funds at the beginning of the year,” explains Pierre-Yves Duwoye. Sometimes the entire amount has to be unfrozen to cover expenses that arise during the year, sometimes something remains and this budget can be renewed in the form of a loan transfer.

Loan deferrals, a repeating variable

Credit carryovers correspond to underspending of the budget, which is generally re-injected into the next year’s budget. Thus, on January 26, 2024, the ministerial decree indicated the return of 285 million euros that the Ministry of National Education did not use in 2023 and which will be added to this year’s budget. This 285 million alone includes 144.5 million credits in commitment authorizations that have not been used in 2022. But these repeated credit transfers may also affect the balance and prompt Bercy to reduce the budget allocated for the year after. “If the points planned for e.g. continuing education were not used this year, they could be used next year. But if they are not used every year for various reasons, the Ministry of Finance can refuse to postpone them because no one benefits from them. If they are removed, fewer people can benefit from them, it’s a downward spiral”, describes the Honorable Master Advisor of the Court of Auditors.

The reports were poorly received

These credit transfers often raise questions among unions and national education employees who regularly demand more funding for class divisions, more generous total hourly rates, wage increases, etc. “In terms of percentage of GDP, the budget allocated to education in France is not so bad compared to the rest of Europe. But France’s main problem, which is also an advantage, is its very scattered network. We have 44,000 primary schools, often with less than 4 classes, in 20,000 municipalities. That costs money! The state, but also the trade unions, are responsible for a certain form of conservatism in the organization of schools and the distribution of costs”, believes Pierre-Yves Duwoye.

The budget is finally planned for 2024

But this year, the 2023 credit transfer has already evaporated as part of the economic plan announced by Bruno Le Maire. The decree published in the Official Gazette on February 22, 2024 cancels 10 billion loans planned for 2024, including 691.6 million euros for school education. The areas dedicated to “student life”, i.e. salaries of school staff or persons accompanying persons with disabilities, are taxed the most (261.7 million). Following are envelopes intended for public primary education (138.2 million), public secondary education (123.4 million), private education (98.9 million), which refers to support for national education (60 million) and technical agricultural education (8, 5 million). ). This represents 1% of the total national education budget for this year, and this ministry is one of the least affected.

What are the consequences?

Nicole Belloubet stated that this restrictive measure will not affect the announcements about the beginning of the school year or the shock of knowledge. “It’s not a lie: the bills have not been made. We do not know how much we will spend and whether those 700 million will disappear at the end of the year. But this is the first time that we removed part of the money that was frozen at the beginning of the year. And we do not remove 700 million from the budget without consequences”, retorts Pierre-Yves Duwoye. If there is not enough money to pay the staff, part of this loan will have to be paid back. “We are not going to lay off permanent staff, but there are 15 to 20% non-permanent staff in national education. Contract workers are left with a margin by not taking them back, by terminating their contract, by not employing them for a replacement for a month or two…” according to the Honorary Master’s Advisor of the Audit Court. The result: classes could be left without teachers. In addition, with the establishment of math and French level groups at the beginning of the school year, staffing needs are significant and the assistance of contract workers may be required. But according to Pierre-Yves Duwoye, if the level groups work well, Nicole Belloubet and the prime minister could ask for the money to be taken elsewhere to maintain the system they are advocating.

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