Whether the question is asked in the national education sector, or in that of experts, the assessment of the age of schooling of pupils is not the same.
As the start of the new school year approaches, all parents with 5-year-old children ask themselves the same questions: what is the ideal age to send our children to school? Does age influence their learning outcomes? The opinion of the actors of the family of education differs from one camp to another. The assessments made by the supervisory authority, the trade unions and the experts are the subject of fundamental differences on the question. The authorization of access to the first year primary class at the next school year for children aged 5 years, has revived the eternal debate on the age of schooling of pupils. The Ministry of National Education has decided that an exemption will be granted to children born from January 1 to December 31, 2016, as reported by national media. The feasibility of using the registration exemption allowing 5-year-old children to access the first year of primary school, initially and compulsory at 6 years old, depends however on the availability of teaching places in the schools.
The lack of educational places is not the only issue that poses problems for unions and experts. Many are among the latter who say they “do not agree” with this approach undertaken for years by the guardianship. This is the case, in particular, of Ahmed Khaled, president of the National Association of Parents of Students, who expressed his wish to “generalize access to preschool for all children”. Contacted by us, the latter will also tell us “while waiting for the regulatory age of six, the year should be devoted solely to the education of preschool students”. Our interlocutor is not the only one to plead for this approach which comes up against the problem of lack of teaching spaces for the generalization of preschool education. Boualem Amoura, president of the Autonomous Union of Education and Training Workers (Satef), shares the same opinion. “Cherubs should be enrolled in preschool from the age of 5 and enter first grade at the age of 6,” he said at the outset. Continuing, Amoura does not mince his words and declares: “Preschool is not generalized in Algeria and certain officials at all levels of the sector use clientelism, nepotism and corruption for the issuance of age waivers! There is discrimination!”
Recalling that “Satef is campaigning for a quality public school accessible to all, Amoura described “preschool classes as daycare centres!” “Satef demands a return to the old primary education system which was spread over a period of six years of schooling, given the current level of Algerian schools which remains very low. Our children will thus have time for extracurricular activities, sport, music, drawing… To decide on the question, we have sought the opinion of Professor Madjid Tabti, head of the child psychiatry department, at the EHS of Chéraga.
This specialist who holds the post of president of the National thematic commission dedicated to the mental health of children attached to the National body for the protection and promotion of childhood (Onppe), and to the Prime Ministry, at first sight underlined that “cognitive development (the acquisition of abilities such as memory, attention and reasoning: editor’s note, is acquired from the age of 6”. “It is therefore better than a child aged 5 years old,” he continued, “enjoys playing and flourishing with his family, than going to school at this age”. “It must be educational games than learning lessons”, a- he added.The expert then brandished the German experience in terms of children’s schooling, before proposing to “shift the schooling of children in the first year of primary school to 7 years old.” each other, the fate of generations remains at stake.