The Minister of lustructiou, secoudcd by the Guveruinent educational Inireaus and inspectors-general, directs public and controls private schools. The Superior Council of 58 members has deliberative, administrative and judiciary functions, and a Consultative Committee advises respecting the working of the school system, bnt the inspectors-general are in direct com- munication with the Minister. For local educatioual administration France is divided into 17 circumscriptions, called Academies, each of which has an Academic Council whose members comprise a certain number elected by the professors or teachers. The Academic Councils deal with all grades of in- struction. Each is imder a Eector, and each is provided with academy inspectors, one for each department except Nord which has two (one being for primary instruction), and Seine which has eight (one being director of primary instruction), besides primary inspectors of schools, usually one for each arrondissemcnt, 20 inspectors (male or female) for the department of the Seine. Each department has a council for primary educational matters, the prefet being president, and this body has large powers with respect to the inspection, management and maintenance of schools and the opening of free schools.
Since 1878 primary instruction has been entirely reorganised and great progress has been made. The law of August 9, 1879, rendered obligatory for each department the maintenance of two primary normal schools, one for school -masters, the other for school-mistresses ; there are two higher normal schools of primary instruction: one at Fontenay-aux-Roses for professors for normal schools for school-mistresses, the other at St. Cloud for professors for normal schools for school-masters. The law of June 16,1881, made instruction absolutely free in all primary public schools; that of March 28, 1882, rendered it obligatory for all children from 6 completed to 13 years of age. The law of October 30, 1886, is the organic law of primary instruction now in force ; it established that teachers should be lay ; for infant schools it sub- stituted ecoles maternelles instead of salles d'asilc ; it fixed the programmes of instruction, and established freedom of private schools under the supervision of the school authorities. The laws of July 19, 1889, and July 25, 1893, March 1 and Dec, 30, 1903, and April 22, 1905, determined the payment of the teachers, who are nominated by the })refet on the recommendation of the Academy inspector under the authority of the minister, and who (except in towns of more than 150,000 inhabitants) are paid directly by the State, which itself receives the eight ' additional centimes ' for primary instruction, formerly collected on behalf of the communes and departments.
The application of the law of July 1, 1901, as regards the teaching congregations, resulted in 1902-03 in the refusal of authorisation to the congregations applying for it and the closing of many private establishments, A law of July 7, 1904, decided on the suppression of all congregationist teaching within a period of 10 years.
The following table shows the condition of primary instruction at various dates (in the figures of 1876-77 Algeria is not included ; it has been included since 1887-88) :—