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The 3 Child Policy: An Alternate Pathway to Graduate Admission in France

Marie AntoinettePhoto: Photo12/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

We recently received a diploma titled Grade de Master in Elementary Education, with emphasis in Teaching Social Sciences and transcripts for one year of study (60 ECTS) completed at a university in France. For the purpose of protecting the identity of the individual who submitted said documents, we will not disclose the name of the university. We can, however, state that the university is recognized and the Grade de Master was issued by the Ministère de l’Enseignement supérieur, de la Recherche et de l’Innovation (Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation).

What was interesting about this case was that there was a 15-year gap between when the individual had finished high school (Baccalaureat) and started the Grade de Master program. When we asked our applicant to provide credentials for previous university studies, e.g. Licence or Bachelor, we were told they didn’t exist as the individual never studied for a Licence or Bachelor or any other university degree, other than the Grade de Master.

We asked for more information on the criteria for admission to the Grade de Master program as we typically see completion of the three-year Licence or Bachelor as a requirement. We were informed by the individual of the existence of a law in France where a person who is the parent of three children can participate in a special lottery to win admission to the Grade de Master program.

In order to verify this claim, we asked the individual to provide us with the link to the section addressing this three-child policy which would appear in the Bulletin Officiel (B.O.) of the Ministère de l’Éducation Nationale, de la Jeunesse et des Sports of France. The B.O. is the reference for all French education which lists all programs and teaching directives. It is amended many times every year.  The B.O. is very dense and searching for information relevant to the subject one is looking for is best left with the individual who studied in the system. We asked our applicant to point us to the section in the B.O. that addresses the 3-child policy. We were directed to item 6.3 in the B.O. which confirms that an individual with three children but no previous university studies may participate in a lottery and the winner will be admitted to the Grade de Master program.

Image source: Amazon

Courtesy of Google Translate, below is the  translation of the text in item 6.3 of the B.O. concerning the three-child policy applied to those who do not hold a previous university degree for admission to the Grade de Master:

“6.3 Candidates exempt from titles or diplomas

6.3.1 Mothers and fathers of at least three children

In application of the provisions of the modified decree n ° 81-317 of April 7, 1981 may apply for the competitions referred to in this note, without fulfilling the diploma conditions required of candidates, mothers or fathers of families of at least three children they actually raise or raise.

This condition is assessed on the date on which the diploma is required to enter the competition.

6.3.2 Top athletes

Pursuant to Article L. 221-3 of the Sports Code, high-level athletes can apply for state competitions without fulfilling the diploma conditions required.

They must be entered on the ministerial list, established by the Minister responsible for sports, valid on the date on which the diploma is required to sit for the competition.”

You may be wondering how ACEI evaluated this credential? Since we recognize the three-year Licence or Bachelor as comparable to three years of undergraduate study in the United States, we evaluated the one year (60 ECTS) for the Grade de Master as comparable to one year of undergraduate credit at the upper division level.




The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI), was founded in 1994 and is based in Los Angeles, California, USA.  ACEI is a full-service company providing complete and integrated services in the areas of international education research, credential evaluation, and translation. ACEI’s Global Consulting Group®, offers expertise in the following specialties: Media and Branding, Global Pathways, and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) to interested institutions and organizations around the globe. www.acei-global.org

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Filed under credentialevaluation, Credentials, Education, evaluation, international education, international students, Language

Empathy: Is it Teachable?

July 10th, 2014


Empathy: the feeling that you understand and share another person’s experiences and emotions: the ability to share someone else’s feelings. Source: Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

Everyday we wake up to news of shootings in schools, children and teens bullied by their peers, gang violence, violent attacks against women, homosexuals, immigrant-bashing, brutalities inflicted on humans by other humans. We go to sleep to more news of violence around the world and the cycle continues. And, we wonder, who could do such heinous acts? What kind of a human being is capable of inflicting such pain and suffering on the innocent? Clearly, these are individuals unable to feel empathy.

In a recent post on the blog Mindshift the question is raised as to “Why its important to teach empathy to boys.” Why only boys? I believe it is just as important to teach empathy to girls as it is to boys. Here’s why. In a May 26, 2014 article in the Wall Street Journal, it was reported that girls show more aggression than boys in schools because they are “generally more socially developed and verbal than boys.”

Psychologists and educators are increasingly noticing children as early as kindergarten or even younger forming cliques and intentionally excluding others and displaying acts of aggression toward those excluded. Steps are being taken to curb this behavior by teaching empathy in elementary schools in order to diminish “relational aggression” which is a psychological term to describe “using the threat of removing friendship as a tactical weapon.” In addition, children are also receiving guidance on how to stand up for themselves against bullies and helping others subjected to social exclusion.


Which leads me to ask the next set of questions: is it up to schools to teach empathy? Are we to assign teachers and schools the responsibility to teach our children to develop the positive character traits such as kindness, compassion, helpfulness, generosity, and consideration? Does empathy start at the school or at the home? What about the parents? Who teaches them empathy? Who teaches the teachers?


Is empathy something we’re hardwired with at birth or can it really be taught? In that same note, if some humans are hardwired with the ability to be empathic are some, such as psychopaths, hardwired to be void of empathy? Psychopaths are defined as individuals who suffer from a personality disorder characterized by a lack of empathy and remorse.

As a non-scientist but a layperson interested in neuroscience and involved in education, I’ve always been fascinated with the question as to why some people are able to experience empathy while others are not. I look at our politicians some of whom display some elements of altruism while others proudly demonstrate their lack of empathy with their matter-of-fact slashing of social programs intended to help the needy and underprivileged, or the bankers who glibly make fortunes through the cleverly plodded loopholes and lets not forget those who brought the country to an almost economic collapse during the recent mortgage crisis, I still remember a banker interviewed on the radio as to whether he felt any remorse for what the banking industry had done to which he replied an emphatic NO! His rationale was simple, he saw himself as the smart one, the one who was able to figure a way to make boat loads of money. I’m paraphrasing here, but he basically said something to the effect of “suck it up people, we’re just smarter than you, that’s all.”

In his book, The Psychopath’s Test, Jon Ronson, explores the characteristics of psychopathy and how a psychopath is not necessarily the cold hearted serial murderer, but it is also the cold-hearted CEO or political leader who is capable of inflicting psychological harm on his/her employees or constituents.

Up until now, I was under the impression that you’re either capable of experiencing empathy or you are not. That is, you’re either born with it or you’re not. In a study published in the open-access journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, reports that “when individuals with psychopathy imagine others in pain, brain areas necessary for feeling empathy and concern for others fail to become active and be connected to other important regions involved in affective processing and decision-making.” Yet, new research by the Netherlands Institute of Neuroscience shows psychopaths in fact have the ability to switch on and off the ability to feel empathy ‘at will’. Given the discovery of this “on” and “off” switch has led the researchers to conclude that therapists can in fact teach psychopaths to be more empathic.


According to the scientists involved in this research study, “the human capacity for empathy is rooted in the operation of ‘mirror neurons’ which are parts of the brain that activate when we do something but also when we observe someone else doing the same thing.” In other words, if we see someone getting hurt it triggers in us the vicarious sensation of pain which causes us to refrain from inflicting pain on another and prevents us from engaging in antisocial behavior.

Children need guidance from an early age to help them develop empathy otherwise they can become callous adults who are oblivious to the hurt and pain they cause others. Empathy, according to researchers is something that must be learned and an important role for parents is to guide their children from infancy by setting an example of empathetic behavior. Parents are in fact, their children’s best emotional tutor.

Several years ago I attended a three-day workshop lead by Rabbi Michael Lerner who spoke about a “New Bottom Line.” According to Rabbi Lerner, we need a new bottom-line instead of the old paradigm where money and power represent success. In this new paradigm, money and power are not the sole barometers of efficiency, productivity and success at corporations, governments, public institutions, and schools “but to the extent they maximize love and caring, ethical and ecological sensitivity, and our capacities to respond with awe and wonder at the grandeur of creation.” This is empathy. One of his ideas for progress had to do with our school system. Much of our public schools resemble factories and even the process of educating our children looks like an assembly line. Rabbi Lerner suggests that we allow older children to serve as mentors or tutors for the younger ones. He mentioned a school in NYC that had adopted this technique and the results were phenomenal. The older children felt responsible for the younger ones and were there to help them with their homework and school-related projects. The cooperation and camaraderie between them encouraged a friendlier and more harmonious school environment. It helped build the character traits that bring about empathy.

Empathy is, therefore, a learned behavior that can be taught. As humans, we are, after all, social animals. We learn by observing. Parents, older siblings, peers, and teachers can teach the children from an early age the basic character traits of kindness, goodness, generosity, compassion, consideration, helpfulness and by setting an example through demonstrating how to feel empathy.


Steve Taylor, a lecturer in psychology at Leeds Metropolitan University and the author of several best-selling books on psychology and spirituality says it best: “Just as the lack of empathy makes cruelty and oppression possible, the presence of empathy heals conflict. The ability to empathize makes us truly human, and the wider it stretches – from victims to offenders, from one ethnic group to another, from nation to nation and religion to religion – the less brutal and more harmonious a place the world will become.” Yes!


Jasmin S. Kuehnert
President & CEO ACEI

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Filed under Creativity, Education, Gratitude, Human Interest

Whatever Happened to Music Education?

December 1, 2011


In writing a recent blog, inspired by LA Philharmonic’s Music Director Gustavo Dudamel’s orchestral version of a popular Puerto Rican band’s hit song, I began to muse on the subject of music education: in Venezuela and the U.S.

There are a million kids enrolled in Venezuela’s music system, called El Sistema. Some of them, like Gustavo Dudamel, rise to the top. Then there was the at-risk kid, Edicson Ruiz, who got off Caracas’ dangerous streets and joined El Sistema. He learned the bass from scratch and won an audition for the Berlin Philharmonic. No small feat. Watching Dudamel conduct the huge Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra is truly inspiring. Classical music isn’t boring when played with that kind of energy and passion. And by kids, no less, which makes it even better. And many of these kids were rescued from a life of crime and gang warfare. Sounds like a good idea for U.S. cities.

Music education is important: it gives kids a chance to develop another language, a chance to explore another part of their minds.

I’ve done hundreds of interviews with musicians over the past 30 years and I’ve often noted that these artists were not verbally gifted. They didn’t give great interviews either. But when playing music an altogether different voice spoke up: eloquent, elegant, compelling. Charlie Parker, when given a Down Beat magazine award by the late critic Leonard Feather, sounded downright dumb. When Jean Paul Sartre told Parker he liked his new bebop music, Parker replied “I like your music too”. He had no clue as to who his famous philosopher fan was. But look at his music. Parker was not only a genius musician who blew everybody else away, but he, like Bach, invented awhole new musical language. Ditto for even the great Coltrane, not exactly a man of many words. Thelonious Monk was even more elliptical with speech, but he was a genius composer of evergreen jazz classics.

Back in the day when I was a kid, there was music education in public schools. Kids got instruments and didn’t have to pay for private lessons their parents might ill afford. That is largely gone now. And sadly. The creativity involved in music making can help kids find outlets, purpose, and keep off the streets. Away from mindless pursuits like video games and TV. Music can organize and improve young lives, be participatory rather than just passive. Without music education, otherwise gifted youth can wind up in mediocre jobs, gangs, or even prison. There could be thousands of gifted musicians we’ll never know about who could make positive contributions as teachers and role models in sharing the gift and joy of music. Like the ex-con who’s now playing with the Berlin Phil.

We see such good things happening in Venezuela. Whether or not you like Hugo Chavez or not, he’s spending his oil money on something priceless. Gustavo Dudamel has brought some of that enterprising musical education spirit here, as the following Huffington Post article demonstrates, but we could surely be doing much more. There’s much more in life for young people than just following Justin Bieber’s every move.

Here is the link to the Huffington Post article about El Sistema. The video is really great.

Tom Schnabel, M.A.
Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres
Host of music program on radio for KCRW Sundays noon-2 p.m.
Blogs for KCRW (rhythm planet / KCRW)
Author & Music educator, UCLA, SCIARC, currently doing music salons

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Filed under Education, Music