A Closer Look

France | A generation of desperate youngsters

Boualem Ben Moussa has delivered pizzas, worked on a building site, washed dishes in a restaurant and delivered more pizzas.

School was not his thing, he says. Now 28, he dropped out at 16 and has since stumbled from short-term contract to short-term contract.

But things are looking up. In Lormont, a dreary suburb northeast of Bordeaux, he and a dozen other young men of mainly immigrant origin are refurbishing two apartments in a complex of 1970s housing blocks, part of a second-chance education project.

As they adapt the residences for senior citizens, they learn new skills as masons, tilers, electricians and painters. Ben Moussa wants to become a plasterer.

Ophelie Latil is also 28 and she liked school. She has a double master’s degree in law and management, and specialised in intellectual property. But despite her higher education, she too has never had a permanent contract, alternating between periods of unemployment and short-term jobs unrelated to her skills.

Ben Moussa and Latil represent the two faces of a generation of desperate French youngsters.

Some 150,000 pupils leave France’s ruthlessly selective education system every year with no diploma whatsoever. Many end up in bleak suburbs around the big cities, where youth unemployment is high and crime is rife.

“Those who cannot follow in school are left behind, that’s how it works. They just don’t take care of you,” Ben Moussa said…


Read More @ Young, French and desperate | Reuters.

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