CONFERENCE Muslim Private Schools: An educational Offer Like Any Other? November 7-8, 2019 - Campus Saint-Jean d’Angely, Nice




Call for papers


In the process of development over the past fifteen years, Muslim private schools have remained little studied in the academic field of school research[1], juvenile religiosities and, to a lesser extent, scientific research on educational strategies developed by Muslim parents. Each opening of a Muslim private school is presented within a media arena of fears, while the number of schools and pupils are inversely proportional to the suspicions that surround this. Controversies are being raised about the emergence of Muslim socialization in France (Frégosi, Willaime, 2001), and more broadly in Europe. They revive the French passion for secularism, certainly amplified after 2015 and the terrorist attacks in Paris.

According to Dubet’s work on social justice (2010), public schools are central, even sacred in France because of the way they distribute places in society. Perceived as a "common good" in the service of the Nation, the school's mission is to provide political education for the citizenship of the people in a secular school since the Ferry Law of 1882 and the Goblet Law of 1886. The public school is a “State matter” according to the Guizot formula, in that it was historically shaped by the struggle between the political authority and the Catholic church. The denominational school is historically part of a tradition of tension regarding the separation of Church and State (1905 law) and this tension can be currently  extended to Muslim private schools which challenge a secular society. Muslim schools have also emerged in a social context marked by the exclusion of some girls from public schools in 1989[2] because of their religious headscarf worn during school. The recurrence of mobilizations, between supporters of a private school and defenders of secularism, sheds lights on a long debate on the place of religious symbols, including their ban, in public schools under the 2004 law[3].

The late awareness of the presence of immigrant descendants in French society has participated in transforming the issues of schooling and religious socialization of the younger generations into a controversial subject. This controversy contrasts sharply with the number of Muslim private schools and the recent contractualization with the State of some of them over the past decade. Islam and immigration are connected with the growing demand for new needs in community and religious lifestyles. This changing representation requires a new perspective on the reconfiguration of the social sphere. The Muslim Movement of France - MF (formerly Islamic Organizations Union of France - UOIF) has initiated the contract process with the French State by clearly locating Muslim schools in the network of the National Federation of Muslim Establishments (FNEM) in a competitive school market. FNEM officials express the objective of promoting a "French Muslim elite well-integrated into the national society" as reported by Amghar et al. (2010, 32).

The aim of this conference is to establish an overview of the situation of private Muslim schools based on a shared perspective with researchers and other stakeholders in the field (families, teaching staff, academics, community leaders…). Several axes are based on multidisciplinary orientations by proposing to question an intertwining of the multiple educational, social, religious, and political issues in order to consider a comparative approach at national and international levels. By situating parents' educational choices in a private confessional market, we will question, for example, the place of Islam, and more generally of religions, both in the educational process and in the emergence of leadership. In addition, the process of regulating the teaching Islam in a secularized context will be examined, as well as current debates on reforms of private schools.

The various axes and round tables of this international conference can thus make it possible to develop a reflexive analysis of the creation of a new educational order in the process of religious education among young generations who report being Muslim.

Axis 1.  The establishment of private Muslim schools: a new school market in perspective

In this axis, we will consider the situation of private Muslim schools in the educational landscape by comparison with the current organization of Catholic, Jewish and Protestant religious schools. This perspective aims to question a new organization through the various religious groups at the local and national levels according to diverse social models and lifestyle. In this axis, we will consider an assessment of the situation of private Muslim schools in the educational landscape by comparison with the current organization of Catholic, Jewish and Protestant religious schools. This perspective aims to question new forms of school organization through the various religious groups who invest in it at local and national levels.

Axis 2. Pedagogical methods and curriculums through the prism of denomination

An approach to the pedagogical process will allow us to explore teachers' methods, tools and curricula for students. A focus on the pedagogical experiences of teachers of general subjects will make it possible to draw the orientations in comparison with teachers of ethics and religion. In either case, we will ask how the pedagogical relationship is being developed based on school curriculums and corpuses. Does the teaching of religions or ethics courses share similar pedagogical tools and learning methods? Attention will be paid to the profiles, backgrounds and status of teachers. By questioning their experiences as teachers of general subjects, or religion and ethics, we will endeavour to construct in this axis an analysis both of pedagogical practices and of the processes of religious socialization through which values and norms are learned.

Axis 3. Muslim denominational schools: a new educational order in question

Absent from major investigations surveys on religion in education, particularly regarding the educational choices of Muslim parents, it would be interesting to explore the place of Islam throughout their educational choices. Choosing a school is not self-evident and responds to a plurality of expectations (Van Zanten, 2001, 2009). The question is what distinguishes the different types of motivation according to this configuration? We will question what is religious in the educational choices of parents as a socially constructed act within a school sector over-determined by negative stereotypes of Islam. The accusation of "community enclaves"[4] of private Muslim schools condemns the legitimacy of the process and tends to discredit the aspirations of Muslim parents, who until then had been more oriented towards private Catholic schools. Talking about school choice is therefore not neutral and implies paying attention to the assumptions that guide the expression of parents' freedom to want one school over another.



AMGHAR, S. (2010). L’enseignement de l’Islam dans les écoles coraniques, les institutions de formation islamique et les écoles privées. Programme de recherche, Institut d’Etudes de l’Islam et des Sociétés du Monde Musulman ;  Répéré sur
BOURGET, C. (2019). Islamic Schools in France. Minority Integration and Separatism in Western Society. Palgrave Macmillan Eds
BOWEN, J. R. (2011). L'Islam à la française. Issy-les-Moulineaux: Steinkis
BOWEN, J. R. (2014). L’islam un ennemi idéal. Paris : Albin Michel
DUBET, F. (2010). La République des idées. Paris: Seuil
FERRARA, C. (2012). Religious Tolerance and Understanding in the French Education System. Religious Education, 107, pp. 514-530.
FREGOSI, F., WILLAIME J.-P. (dir.). (2001), Le religieux dans la commune. Les régulations locales du pluralisme religieux en France. Paris : Labor et Fides
PORTIER, P. (2016). L'état des religions en France. Une sociologie historique de la laïcité en France. Rennes : PUR
TREMBLAY, S. (2012). Les écoles privées religieuses : un cas de conscience pour les démocraties libérales. Dans G. G. al, Polémiques à l’école. Paris: Armand Colin

[1] Some studies by researchers on the subject from outside of France should be mentioned here (Bourget, 2019; Bowen, 2011; Ferrara, 2012; Tremblay 2012; Zuhdi, 2018).
[2] See the "Cherifi report" (2005), mediator of the national education system, for whom 4 academies concentrate, according to her, the difficulties related to the headscarf with headmasters of public schools: Lille, Créteil, Montpellier and Strasbourg.
[3] The law of 15 March 2004 bans the wearing of “signs or dress through which pupils ostensibly indicate which religion they profess in public primary, middle and secondary schools”.
[4] As we read from many discussions on the veil and on the identity issues of the multiculturalist-type model of a society as opposed to a republican conception. See J. R. Bowen's (2014) analysis on this subject.

How to submit proposals?

The closing date for submitting proposals of papers in French or English (1500 typographic signs max) is 15/07/2019 via this web site:

Deadline for sending proposals: July 15, 2019

Please specify:

- Names and surnames of the author(s)
- Institutional affiliation
- Email address
- Title of the paper
- Reference to an axis
- Summary

Authors will be informed of their selection by 07/09/2019 at the latest. The closing date for sending the full text of selected papers is 21/10/2019.


Practical Information

The conference, with an international focus, is open to all social science and humanities disciplines.



They are no registration fees. But speakers are expected to pay the costs of their travel and accommodation. (A list of hotels located in the vicinity of the international conference will be available soon on the website).



Steering committee

  • Rania HANAFI : Côte d’Azur University – University of Nice Sophia Antipolis (ESPE) – URMIS
  • Jean-François BRUNEAUD : University of Bordeaux – College of Human Sciences - LACES EA-7437
  • Zineb RACHEDI : INSHEA – GRAHPES - University Paris Lumières
  • Iman BEN LAKHDHAR : doctoral student in Sociology of Education - Côte d’Azur University – University of Nice Sophia Antipolis - URMIS
  • Nancy DELICAT MOUNDOUBE : doctoral student in STAPS - University of Bordeaux – College of Human Sciences - LACES EA-7437
  • Mohamed ELHADDADI : doctoral student in Educational Sciences - University of Bordeaux – College of Human Sciences - LACES EA-7437

Scientific committee

  • Catherine BLAYA: HEP Canton de Vaud - Director of LASALE, Switzerland
  • Jean-François BRUNEAUD: University of Bordeaux - LACES, France
  • Rania HANAFI: Côte d'Azur University - University Nice Sophia Antipolis (ESPE) - URMIS, France
  • Vasséko KARAMOKO: Félix Houphouët-Boigny University - Abidjan - LAASSE, Ivory Coast
  • David KOUSSENS: University of Sherbrooke - Director of the NRC, Canada (Quebec)
  • Béatrice MABILON-BONFILS: University of Cergy-Pontoise - Director of BONHEURS, France
  • Charles MERCIER: University of Bordeaux (ESPE d'Aquitaine) - LACES, France
  • Jean-Luc PRIMON: Côte d'Azur University - Associate Director of the URMIS, France
  • Fabien SABATIER: University of Bordeaux (ESPE d'Aquitaine) - Director of LACES, France

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