Pap Ndiaye, a historian specializing in minorities becomes French Minister of Education

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Paris (AFP) – Pap Ndiaye, a Senegalese father and French mother, was appointed Friday French Minister of Education and Youth, a respected historian, specialist in U.S. social history and minorities.

This 56-year-old researcher has been at the helm of the Immigration Museum in Paris since last year. Professor for many years at Sciences Po Paris, he was valued by his peers and a “size” on issues related to minorities.

“In the field of history, he was a man of innovation, he was able to show a new way of understanding the past. His work on the black presence in France was established”, tells him the historian Pascal Blanchard, colonization specialist.

“He is a practitioner, who teaches, who knows what to look like in front of a class of students! It is good to find a pedagogue if there is a malaise of teachers”, he added, welcoming also “someone who listens to diversity.” and “knows international issues”.

“In everything related to minorities, he incorporates orientations that are definitely not what Jean-Michel Blanquer (he followed) implemented”, analyzes sociologist Michel Wieviorka. “He was also lucky to be able to move us between different cultures”, the United States, Africa and France.

Assets for reconciliation?

He studied in the United States from 1991 to 1996 and became known to most of the public by publishing in 2008 “The Black Condition, an essay on a minority in France”, his reference work.

In 2019, always with the desire to present his subjects of study, he became a scientist advisor to the exhibition “The black model”, at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, on the representation of blacks in the visual arts. Most recently, he co-presented in 2020 a report on the diversity of Paris Opera.

When he arrived at the head of the French National Museum of the History of Immigration in March 2021, he told the AFP that his appointment was a symbol of “non-white” youth, even if it was “d first because” of his work as a historian and his “long career as an academic”. “I think of myself as the color of my skin,” he added.

Recognized as a supporter of consensus, his personality could be an asset in promoting reconciliation in the teaching world, highly critical of the outgoing minister, Jean-Michel Blanquer.

A new direction

“He’s a diplomat in his way of being with others. It’s good because it’s a ministry that needs diplomacy,” Pascal Blanchard said.

“He was a very thoughtful man, very full”, Michel Wieviorka said. “If he has ways to get politics that he can include, as an intellectual personality, I think we’re going in a new direction.”

For Louis-Georges Tin, former president of the Representative Council of Black Associations (CRAN), of which Pap Ndiaye is vice-president of the science council, it is also “a man in charge of relieving tensions”, which ” creates consensus from above. ”and“ respectful ”.

The arrival of Pap Ndiaye’s National Education, who signed a platform in 2012 calling for a vote for François Hollande, has provoked surprise.

“I am shocked by this news. For me, Pap Ndiaye was never there. What is certain is that + National Education should + be + unblocked”, the AFP’s reaction to the deputy La France Insoumise (LFI, radical on the left ) Alexis Corbière. But “this media stunt, the only one from this dull government, cannot contain the deep anger of National Education”, he believes.

For the leading union of secondary school teachers, Snes-FSU, “Pap Ndiaye’s teaching was a break with Jean-Michel Blanquer in more ways than one”. But “National Education is not governed solely by symbols”, he warned in a press release. “Emergencies are real, quick responses are expected, especially in terms of salary”.

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