France’s Universal Preschool System Featured on NPR

July 06, 2010 1 min read

National Public Radio’s Morning Edition yesterday aired a very interesting story on France, where children start school at age 3.

While President Obama has said he would like for preschool to be available to all American children, universal preschool is already a “pillar of society” in many parts of Europe, the story said.

In France, the preschool system, known as “ecole maternelle,” allows 100 percent of 3-, 4-, and 5-year-olds to attend school, so that children have the same level of preparation when they start 1st grade, the story said. Ecole maternelle allows kids to be socialized and women to return to work more easily, it said.

NPR reported that while France’s education system overall is not without its problems, ecole maternelle is one of the “cherished symbols of the French Republic.” It has meant both equal treatment for all and the freedom for women to more easily return to work, the story said.

Meanwhile, the story described preschool in the United States as a “patchwork system” with children’s access to it inconsistent.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Early Years blog.