In order to move forward on schools’ problems, changes must take place at all levels

This article is a sub-section of a large report on French video game studies published by the STJV. You will find the table of contents of this dossier, and links to all its parts, here : https://www.stjv.fr/en/2021/09/report-on-french-video-game-studies/

While waiting for external actions and systemic reactions to occur, sometimes one has to take matters into their own hands. Indeed, students or teachers directly facing discrimination, harassment, health problems caused by their studying or working conditions need immediate actions, and cannot wait for large-scale changes. To this end, there are different means of forcing schools to respect the law, their teachers and their students.

It should be reminded that students of a private education institution are consumers of the services provided by the company behind that institution. Contracts with schools, which are often integrated or even merged with application papers, obviously fall under the law, mainly consumer rights law. Schools must comply with their clauses. In particular, schools must provide an outline of the courses to be taken. If the courses provided do not correspond to this, or if they are not provided, the school can be sued.

Moreover, as mentioned before, discrimination and harassment are already punished by law. Teachers, administrative staff, school representatives who discriminate against or harass students can also be prosecuted, and in many cases the school that allowed these acts to take place can also be prosecuted.

We explained in the first part of this report that schools are economically dependent on their public image, and disproportionately so. Although this dependence is a source of many problems, and one of the main causes of schools’ repression on their students’ freedom of speech, it is also a weakness. Schools are afraid of having their wrongdoings exposed publicly, which gives a relatively powerful leverage to the victims of their (in)actions. Asking for accountability and asking questions at open days, at fairs, in meetings that schools may have with parents, students, student delegates, can also fit into this kind of tactic.

Whatever the means chosen, acting and exposing oneself alone is always risky, financially, mentally or socially. We very strongly advise not to do things on your own and, depending on the situation, to approach unions, consumers’ associations, lawyers, etc. In the same way, it is always useful to communicate with colleagues, fellow students, external acquaintances, other parents… Warning each other, discussing our problems together, combining different skills, experiences and means, gives the opportunity to do more, and better, than alone.