Today is the exam day. The brains are full with knowledge and information that had to be swallowed in a very short amount of time just to be spilled out on this very specific day. Everyone looks intelligent and smart in front of his or her copy. There are different styles but what really matters today is what will finally be written on the sheets at the end of the exam. For me this is the last time I am in front of my students. For once there is no absent. They all replied positively to the last call. As the exam room starts becoming quieter after the last students have gained their seats, for a short while my mind travels back in the past and I start remembering the time I used to be sitting on the same seats trying to spit out the accumulated knowledge. I will admit I was not a bright one and due to my streetwise culture perhaps a bit of cheating was always part of the party. Just like in seek and catch game the teachers and professors would be the enemies I had to avoid being caught by. Of course in most cases I was eventually the big winner of the exiting game. Today my cards have changed; I have now become those teachers who are trying in vain to catch the cheating students. My first priority on this very specific day is to make sure the exam takes place in good conditions.
I have no doubt that among these students taking the exam today are to be found the big spirits of tomorrow however how do those students see their future in the present political and economic atmosphere. Are they well aware of the responsibilities that lay upon them? When asked the question about how she sees herself in ten years time, Menel Landolsi answers that she plans to be a secondary teacher, and that in ten years time she also more sees herself the Mum of no more than two children. When looking at her immense capacities, I feel a bit sorry. Ambition is low in
France which could explain for the 49th international rank held by the best French university. Here in France more than anywhere else, students more than often go to university without any clear objective in their career. Teaching or working as a civil servant therefore becomes a facility as it appears for most as a continuation of students’ life. An ex-student of mine Nasira Touré who is now getting trained to work as a personal manager told me not long ago that she was kind of divided between two things that are her
dreams and reality. What she would have liked to be is a pop start, a singer, living in LA in the United States. She admits that because she thought it was impossible, she never took the chance to try. She thought she had to be realistic and this is why in five years time she more sees herself working as personal manager for a small company in France. As many other youngsters of her age it appears that priority is to getting a job of subsistence and not really to realize one self.
So when I think again of all those pondering over their copies on the exam day I cannot help telling myself that all this is big fuss for very low ambitions and perspectives. Sure studying opens doors, but what if there is a big wall at the end of the corridor behind that door?