Minister Rima Abdul Malak responds

It all started at the Ensa (National School of Architecture) in Rouen. In mid-January, classes had not been able to resume normally, following the mobilization of some students and staff against a situation of shortage of human resources, both structural and cyclical.

Gradually, all of the 20 Schools had followed the movement to demand additional resources, students and staff alerting in particular to the fact that “the State devotes less resources to an architecture student than to a university student”. An assertion taken from an administration report and repeated by the directors of Ensa in front of the senatorsbut denied by the office of the Minister of Culture and senior administration, in a press briefing held at the end of March.

On April 14, the collective “Ensa in struggle” organized a national day of strike in schools, and demanded to be received as a collective. Notebooks of grievances are being drawn up to bring up the demands of a world that expresses deep unease about its means of study, but also about violence and discrimination (scandals that have shaken some Ensa in recent years ), or that of “to make schools able to respond to contemporary challenges”.

“I heard your concerns”

It is to these demands, as well as to the requests from the management of establishments, which she received at the beginning of April before listening to the students, that Minister Rima Abdul Malak endeavors to respond, in a letter to the approximately 20,000 students sent on April 21 and available online. She first recalls being “strongly mobilized from her appointment” in favor of the Ensa, with the obtaining of a budget up 20% for 2023. A financial effort added to the 57 million euros of the recovery plan planned for the renovation of the buildings, but which “has not yet responded to all the difficulties of the schools”agrees the Minister.

She also recalls that the remuneration of contract teachers has been increased “of 113 euros monthly net minimum” on January 1, and that that of tenured teachers and doctoral students will be aligned, at the start of the 2023 academic year, with their university counterparts. In addition, 5,000 scholarship students will receive “at least 37 additional euros per month from the start of the 2023 school year”.

Immediate aid for students in difficulty and training against sexual violence

Then come the announcements. In order to fight against student precariousness, Rima Abdul Malak indicates that she has unblocked “emergency” immediate aid of 3 million euros devoted to student life. Are particularly targeted “educational projects”whose architectural costs can be high and which are “inequality factors”. The student health services will be, from the start of the next academic year, “open to all schools”also informed the Minister.

In order to fight against sexual and gender-based violence and harassment in schools, it announces that VHSS training for teachers and staff will be compulsory and systematic. “from next school year”.

Prioritization of work and “new human resources”

Concerning the improvement of the buildings, she indicates that she has asked the architecture department to “prioritize work on the most urgent situations” like in Grenoble, where a roof is pierced, or like in La Villette where a new place is actively being sought to relocate the school.

In addition, Rima Abdul Malak is pleased to have obtained, “with exceptional delays”, the creation of ten administrative posts for the schools. These are in addition to the five positions created in 2023 and the ten in 2022. Added together, these 25 positions therefore represent “more than one new full-time per school”.

Relaunch of the National Strategy for Architecture

Finally, the Minister responds to the demand made by the students to adapt the teaching of architecture to current issues. For “putting the ecological transition at the heart of schools”she entrusts to the director of architecture of her ministry, Hélène Fernandez, recently appointedthe task of leading “extensive consultation with all the Ensa communities” with a view to relaunching the 2015 National Strategy for Architecture and “take better account of these issues”.

Contacted by Batiactuthe President of the Order of architectsChristine Leconte, believes that the Minister “opens a door and dialogue with the students. It was a signal strongly awaited by the whole community”. “It offers a roadmap for all stakeholders in schools of architecture through the resumption of the national strategy for architecture. This is important because today the malaise affects all stakeholders: teachers, administrators, students”.

“It must be the start of a long-term process because the deficit (of resources in particular) accumulated in schools for many years is substantial and the place of architecture in society in the face of ecological and social issues is a major question for the future of young students and architects. We are at a key moment that we must not miss! we must seize this opportunity to reaffirm the place of architecture in the debate and public policies”adds Christine Leconte.

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