France’s equivalent of the Leaving Cert began today, but details on the philosophy paper were leaked a bit prematurely
As if students sweating over their future in the summer heat hadn’t already enough on their plate with the current rail strikes, one website got into further hot water with the Ministry of Education for publishing details of the philosophy paper online before the press embargo of 09:30.
At 08:00, the baccalauréat (commonly referred to as “le bac“) began for 329,000 students sitting the philosophy exam. Barely a few minutes later, details of the paper were published online. The editor of the unnamed site specialising in training and education said that he received various texts from teachers in his network within a couple of minutes and he “did my job: I had news and I broadcast it.”
A quarter of an hour later, the French Ministry of Education were on the phone from Paris. The editor said that he had a very sobering conversation with the Ministry official: “I was made to understand that I was running the risk of legal action being brought against me by letting that information remain on the site. We’re just a small publication and in the face of such pressure, I decided that the wisest course of action would be to take the stuff down from the site.”
Although the site has been publishing information on the bac papers well before 9am for three years now, there are particular mitigating circumstances this year: The ongoing rail strike means that the risk of students arriving late to their exam and seeing these details on their mobiles before they reached the exam hall was a real one.
“I understand the particular context this year because of the transport strikes but it’s all a bit hypocritical. The Ministry wants to control what is really not controllable any more. Before we published them, the subject details on the philosophy paper were already on Twitter, on the accounts of the students.”
It seems that the Education Ministry was on top of its game as it turns out: one female student who had tweeted the subjects that came up on the paper got a frosty response from a Ministry press attaché. Later that morning, she had deleted her Twitter account.