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Medal Honouring Napoleon's Education Law of 1802

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FRANCE: Napoleon III (1852-1870) AR medal, ND, 35mm, engraved by Depaulis: Ministere de l'Instruction Pubilque - Loi du 1 Mai 1802 - Bureaux d-Administration des Lycées.


This is a comemorative aniversary medal which was struck in 1862(original strike, bee ponticon), 60 years after the 1802 law was enacted, it was ordered struck by Gustave Rouland the Minister of Education & Religious affairs, who in 1862 was elevated to the rank of Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour. By honouring Napoleon III's uncle Napoleon I's law of 1802, he was perhaps showing his loyalty & gratitude to the Emperor, as well as subtly celebrating his own aggrandisement.

The Law

Napoleon was by now, 1802, Ist consul for life , this law was part of his grand design, though it was introduced by Antoine Fourcroy a member of the Council of State, Napoleon was the driving force "I want to be able to look at a clock at anytime of the day & know exactly what every pupil is studying".


The main objective of the 1802 law was the founding of 45 lycees(high schools, see below if interested in the composition of the 45 schools), the aim was to uniformily, by using set curiculum, military style uniforms, ranks, companies etc, prepare mainly upper & middle class children for loyal obedient service to the State & thereby, by extension, Napoleon & the army. This was also aimed at creating a meritocracy, a policy consistent with his conviction of judging men according to their ability, not according to their birth, social status, or personal beliefs.. There were scholarships available, 2,400 for sons of government officials & military officers, plus 4,000 through competition but in reality for sons of the wealthy. So as always family connections & money never hurt your chances in life.


Though private schools still existed(Catholic Church & municiple, etc) for those families opposed to the military style &/or irreligious aspect of the lycees & for children that could not otherwise gain admission to the lycees, these were brought under State authority, though still private, in 1808 in an attempt to instill the same loyalty to the Emprorer & State as the lycees achieved. Due mainly to many of the teachers being priests this meet with only partial success. At times up to 50% of children attended private schools. A report in 1813 gave the official figure of 68,000 in the lycees & 47,000 in private schools.


In 1809 a final examination, the baccalaureate, was instituted as the prerequisite for entry to higher eduction.


Napoleon's Lycees were so successful they lasted though all the subsequent governments & still exist today.


This was just one part of Napoleon Boneparte's many reforms, which like his Civil Code, helped to lay the framework for the modern French state & its laws.


Key aspects of the Education law of 1802.

It is a law of general organization of school provision based on the definition of four types of schools: primary (municipal), secondary (communal or private), colleges (funded by the Treasury), schools Special (ditto)


Primary schools are not free, but it is possible to exempt one fifth of the students;


High schools are schools that teach "Latin and French languages, the first principles of geography, history and mathematics." Their opening is subject to government approval and are under the authority of the prefect;


In high schools(lycees), 30 in number, are taught: the ancient languages, rhetoric, ethics and the elements of mathematics and physics. Added to the drawing, art amenities, the military exercises.


Special schools: law (10), medicine, natural history, physical chemistry (4), mechanical and chemical arts (2), higher mathematics (1), geography, history and political economy (1), schools of arts and design, observatories (Astronomy);


A special school of 500 students from military high schools.


6400 national students are maintained at the expense of the Republic in high schools and special schools (residents) (2400 of them are for the sons of military or civil servants).

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Great medal and very interesting info. While favoring the privileged it does seem to have laid the groundwork for advanced education.

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