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Short Introduction in French Policy and Target Groups

France has always been a country of immigration. Many communities, due to historical events in their country of origin, or hard economic situations have had to migrate to other countries in search for a better living. The number of immigrants, but especially the diversity of their origins has led to the adoption of the French integration model, by which migrants must blend into the culture of the host country.

This policy has for some analysts been rather associated with assimilation, that is to say the denial of the migrants’ culture and values. A new way is now taken towards trying to draw the best from people’s culture of origin and the culture of their adoptive land.

The “Integration contract” that has been implemented all over the European Union, forces migrants to learn French language as a prerequisite for obtaining a permanent resident’s permit. Education and training are promoted as a mean to combat economic exclusion and therefore integrate socially and economically the different communities.

INSUP provides over 850,000 hours of training a year to about 5,500 course participants, 65% of them aged 18-25 from urban and rural areas of Aquitaine. About 60 % of the trainees at INSUP come from minorities (migrants or descendants of migrants) and are more exposed to social and economic exclusion, higher unemployment and lower qualifications.

INSUP being committed to the social and professional advancement of the people it trains, has been involved in European training projects, confronting its experience to the practice of other European partner institutions. Such projects have rapidly underlined the need to consider intercultural issues as a key element of the courses and methodology used to address our different target groups.

A large portion (around 60%) of second generation migrants attend the courses, because they usually have the lowest educational levels and come into training to upgrade their skills or prepare a diploma. Now in the compulsory French modules for migrants, all the participants are recent migrants who must learn French as a key element of their integration contract. The participants’ education level are extremely heterogeneous as the institute can have university graduates and people with very low academic levels in the same group. The only common characteristic is their need to learn French to foster their integration into French society.