IFF Europe : How do our students cope ?

Agnès Teynié - IFF Europe : For months now there has been a growing revolt within me against what the students are going through. Admittedly, the first confinement was understandable, and relatively well accepted by all, despite the ban on resuming face-to-face classes at the end of the year in higher education (whereas high schools and middle schools were reopening their doors in modified conditions). At the end of October, higher education (with the exception of classes préparatoires aux grandes et écoles and BTS) was back to distance learning. While the shops opened again in December, students were forbidden access to their establishments before the 5th of February at the latest. The spectre of a third confinement puts the student population at risk of being in lockdown again and again.

The appearance of the hashtag #EtudiantsFantômes allows us to hear the growing and very worrying distress of many students: massive dropping out of school, depression, anxiety, suicidal ideas, impoverishment of those who need a small job to help them take charge of their lives, often in the restaurant business ... In one year, they will have benefited at best from a month and a half of face-to-face classes! Everyone tries to do their best, but when the days follow each other between classes with the video camera off (when it is not just a teaching aid to be read), meals alone in a student's room, and confinement in the evening, it is difficult to keep up the time, to remain mobilised. Especially when you haven't had time to make friends and network.

Yes, I hurt for our students. For all our students, whatever their schools, whatever their universities.

What about the confinement at IFF Europe?

At IFF Europe, how do we live it?

Our students tell us about their personal, family and academic difficulties in the face of this forced isolation. The return to the same mode in January was very difficult. And yet, out of 129 young people, we don't have any dropouts due to this situation. There's nothing magical about it, just a few elements for which we are putting all our energy into. Adaptation of timetables to limit the duration of the visions, courses that are as participatory as possible, an open camera for all to see each other and to be together, regular individual and group support (and for those who are weakened, closer monitoring and sometimes contact with a therapist). We also give priority to work that puts students in working groups, even at a distance. We always encourage links, exchanges and collective work. This is essential. And then, with realism but hope, remain turned towards a possible future. Our students go on work experience and almost all of them have found a host organisation, which marks a real intergenerational solidarity in society (in which parents and former students have also played their part). And then of course, we hold with them the end-of-year solidarity projects, places of commitment in the service of others, essentially in France this year. With all our strength, faced with the withdrawal into ourselves caused by the situation, we link, support, accompany, and encourage people to get involved. Because commitment with others, for others, saves from the misfortune of being alone.