10 years strong | A French school with an ITER flavour
The men and women who are building ITER come from all over the world, often with school-age children. They rightfully expect to be provided an adapted educational structure, one that would provide the benefits of an international curriculum while maintaining ties with their national system and language.
Located in nearby Manosque, the International School of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur (EIPACA) was established to serve the needs of the ITER Project, but also benefits the local community. From 20 to 24 May, a week of celebration took place to mark 10 years in the school's permanent location.
Establishing an international school near ITER was part of the French commitment as host to the project. For the French Ministry of Education, the creation of an educational establishment catering to students aged 3 to 18 and hailing from more than 30 nations was a tremendous challenge, both technically and intellectually. On 24 January 2011, when the school was officially inaugurated, the head of the public education service in the Aix-Marseille region considered that the French authorities had gone "as far as the Constitution would allow."
Although it was created to serve the needs of ITER, the International School of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur (EIPACA) is part of the French public school system. As such, it is also open to "non-ITER" children, which contributes to broadening the experience of all students.
At EIPACA, the ITER Project is part of everyone's culture and experience. Here, students compare notes for a quiz on ITER and fusion fundamentals.
The objective from the beginning has been to provide a bilingual education—in French plus one of the ITER languages. Currently, six language sections are offered: Chinese, English, German, Italian, Japanese and Spanish. Furthermore, from junior high school on, English speakers can choose to join the European Section where the courses are taught 80 percent in English.
From 130 students in 2007, the school has grown to 770 today (an average of 59 percent are from ITER families). After exponential growth in the early years, enrolment is now expanding at about 5 percent annually.
The "ITER school" was hosted at first by a high school in the city of Manosque, until a dedicated site could be built thanks to an investment of EUR 55 million from the Regional Council of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur (PACA).
From 20 to 24 May, five days of celebratory events took place to celebrate 10 years in the school's permanent location.
"We are proud to be a strong and nurturing school for children from thirty countries who study in seven different languages," said Laure Béjannin, current director of the EIPACA International School. "Our commitment to the future of the school is complete. With the support of ITER and of the French Ministry of Education, we will no doubt lead our 770 students today—and our students in the future—to great achievements."
Learn more about the EIPACA International School in this presentation, or by consulting the website.