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1981 - Economics in High Schools

By Bernard

In 1981, the ministry of education implemented an economic course compulsory to obtain the high

school diploma.  The course was implemented at the same time in French and English, Catholic and Portestant high schools in September 1982.  The title of this course is: "Economics".

"It is generally acknowledged that the aim of the secondary school is to help the pupil acquire a general education.  Such an education would not be complete without a basic knowledge of economics."

"This course is different from both mere economic information and the science of ecomomics proper.  Indeed, it is intended to go beyond the simple, more or less structured accumulation of facts and concepts, without attempting, however, to present economic theories which are likely to be misunderstood by the pupil because of the limited basic knowledge or lack of interest. 

"Economics should enable the pupil not only to acquire certain intellectual and technical skills and knowledge, but also to adopt a number of attitudes and a whole set of values.  To educate the pupil in economics, it is necessary to acquaint him with the basic concepts as a structured and coherent whole which he can assimilate and eventually use.  It should also enable the pupil to draw upon his everyday experience to understand the realities and to become involved in them by making sensible choices whan necessary."

These goals were the same than the ones presented by an American commision in it report to President Kennedy in early 1960 at the time when UNESCO made it research on the subjet of the economic knowledge necessary in publc school.  In 1981, the ministry of education stated that, at the end of this course:

"The pupil should:

  1. Have learned the basic concepts and skills pertaining to economic analysis;
  2. Have become familiar with the reality of his economic environment;
  3. Have acquired a basic understanding of the economic relationships and interdependencies at play tin society;
  4. Have vbecome aware of the major socio-economic phenomena and problems of today;
  5. Have developed his critical sence with respect to various realities;
  6. Have become aware of his personal and social economic responsabilities."

The course program was divided in seven modules of unequal importance (number of compulsory objectives):

  1. Economic Organization of society (7)
  2. Organization ofProduction (8)
  3. Human Ressources (6)
  4. Consumption (9)
  5. Financial Institutions and Money (4)
  6. Governement and Public Finances (6)
  7. The International Economy (6)

This course remained compulsory until 2007;  it is still facultative now.  Recently, the director of programs at the ministry of education, Catherine Dupont<, said:

"Economic education can be done in each home!"  (my translation).