Education journalists from some 40 countries gathered in the suburbs of Paris May 19-21 to share information and insights about the education systems in one another’s countries.
The International Forum for Educational Press was the brainchild of Emmanuel Davidenkoff, a newspaper and radio reporter in France. Helping him organize FIEP, as the organization is being informally called by its French acronym, were Laurence Albert, an education journalist for the daily Paris-based financial newspaper Les Echos;Emmanuelle Bastide, a journalist for Radio France Internationale; and Brigitte Perucca, the editor of Le Monde de L’Education, a monthly education supplement to the French daily.
The journalists conceived the idea of the conference after realizing that they were knowledgeable about education in their own country but knew very little about what was going on elsewhere, said Mr. Davidenkoff, who works for the daily Libération and provides radio commentary on France Info, a public-radio station. If we have problems understanding some issues, he said the thinking among them went, maybe colleagues in other countries are in the same situation.
The foursome eventually took their concept to the Centre International d’Etudes Pédagogiques. A division of the French Ministry of Education, the pedagogy center helped organize and hosted the event at its campus in Sèvres, once the home of Madame de Pompadour, a mistress of King Louis XV, and an artisans’ studio for the production of fine china.
In attendance were about 50 journalists from Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, North America, and South America.
Regardless of their wealth, the countries face many of the same issues, such as academic-achievement gaps between different racial and ethnic groups, teacher shortages, and rising college costs. But other problems affect only the less-developed countries: schools without drinking water or toilets, for instance.
At a minimum, FIEP is expected to live on virtually through the Web. Representatives from a half-dozen countries also plan to meet in the coming months to explore the feasibility of future gatherings.