In Lille, the Averroès high school, from excellence to downfall

“Those who are talking about Averroes all over the media should come and see what it’s like

In Lille, the Averroès high school, from excellence to downfall

“Those who are talking about Averroes all over the media should come and see what it’s like. » On Monday, December 4, Noha (the people cited by their first name only requested anonymity), 16 years old, sat down in the refectory of the Averroès school group, a Muslim establishment located in the Lille-Sud district. For several days, the approximately 800 students from 6th to 12th grade have been waiting for the official announcement of the termination of the association contract which linked the high school classes (473 students) to the State.

The registered letter, sent by the Northern prefecture, finally left on Friday December 8. A set of grievances drawn from several reports from the regional chamber of accounts and national education – even if the latter has always provided rather favorable conclusions – are summarized in this letter.

In addition to financial arguments (donations from abroad, suspicion of illicit financing or conflict of interest), the prefecture notably calls into question the use of educational content "hostile to the Republic" such as books from the library or which would have served as support for the Muslim ethics course. She also accuses the Averroès high school of having obstructed a national education inspection in January 2022 and of having created a file listing the inspectors who had already visited the establishment. The establishment disputes all of these points and plans to file an appeal with the administrative court.

Two reports were confirmed by the Lille public prosecutor's office, which explained to Le Monde that it had opened two investigations. One comes from the regional audit chamber, the other from the prefect, on the specific point of the “illegal file” of inspectors.

“The families are very worried”

How, in around fifteen years, was the Averroès high school able to go from being a model establishment for the social advancement of descendants of immigrants to withdrawing from its contract with the State? Around Noha, freshly straightened hair and black down jacket, Aïda and Sarah (her first name has been changed at her request) still can't believe it.

“Ultimately, if everything we were accused of was true, we could discuss it,” argues Noha. The final year students are revolted by the portrayal of their establishment. “What are we going to do on Parcoursup,” asks Sarah, gold glasses and scarf on her hair, “if everyone takes us for extremists? »

“What we are basically being told is that we don’t want excellence in our neighborhoods,” says Ludivine Abadi, mother of two students attending school in Averroès. This association leader, very involved in the Lille-Sud district, reports a climate where anger and incomprehension occupy people's minds. “The families are very worried, and the persistent vagueness about what is being blamed at the Averroès high school fuels this concern. »