Hopes and limits of the republican meritocracy

Between two worlds

Friday, June 11, at 8:30 p.m. on LCP (1)

A week ago, Arte broadcast The Heiresses, a very successful fiction by Nolwenn Lemesle, telling the story of Sanou, a brilliant student from Saint-Denis entering the prestigious Lycée Henri-IV, torn between two socio-cultural universes. In the documentary Between two worlds, director Sonia Hedidi follows five college students from Stains and Corbeil-Essonnes, selected to join the “Roped of success to the Lycée Louis-le-Grand and the Lycée Henri-IV”, a system set up in 2008 to assess and prepare deserving students “From disadvantaged social backgrounds”, in partnership with some sixty establishments in Paris and its suburbs.

Every Wednesday and during the holidays, Marwa, Inès, Ouissal, Ounissa and Baydi leave their working-class neighborhoods to take the RER to the heart of Paris and receive general culture, math, history lessons, or go on cultural outings. “This year, we have 130 files for fourth year students. We will retain the best of those who have more than 15/20 per subject, also taking into account their assessments and absences, to retain one per establishment, at least ”, explains, at the beginning of the year, an official of the Lycée Henri-IV.

The selected students, carried by the pride of a whole family, are aware of the chance which is granted to them. But, over the months, doubts set in, confidence erodes. Henri-IV’s teachers, sometimes awkwardly, warn them against the level of demand and the amount of work that awaits them, as well as their inadequacies. “I don’t feel out of place. It’s too much pressure ”, admits Ouissal. When the results are announced, tears of joy or disappointment bead. This experience made them grow up, and also wonder about this stratified society. A sensitive documentary that questions the limits and dead ends of French meritocracy.

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