A personal story from Patrice Petitqueux about why he turned towards Open Recognition.

I belong to this category of people whose career and educational path is rather atypical and far from a straight line! I belong to this category of people who like to construct themselves through experiences and encounters rather than training: informal comes first, formal second.

At the end of my high school years, I did not really know where to go. I liked numbers and mathematics but I liked sports too. By necessity, I turned to a training in accounting. Three years during which I had more pleasure rubbing shoulders with my fellow students than absorbing the knowledge taught! After graduation, I wanted to change direction.

As part of my civil service, I joined the Fédération des Oeuvres Laïques (Federation of Lay Works), where I worked for two years and obtained a diploma of animator. This exhilarating experience, accompanied by my volunteer involvement in the community, has given me “new” aspirations: youth, sport and popular education.

After four years working with a young audience as agent d’animation et de développement  (animation and development agent), during which I obtained a state diploma of sports educator, I joined the university – through a VAE (Validation of Acquired Experience) – where I got a Bachelor in Training and Sport Management yet without much professional prospects.

I later found a temporary job as administrative and education assistant in a school, an employment that allowed me to get ready for the competitive exam to become a teacher. Six years trying to access the Holy Grail! But nothing worked ! It is clear that I am not a competition machine. But this experience was not in vain, because every experience is beneficial, whatever one may say. The links created during my job and the skills developed have allowed me, through a combination of circumstances (Ah! Hold on, at least one competitive exam I have been successful!), to find a new job … as a teacher!

The start of my search of recognition

In 2010, Switzerland – and more precisely the Vallorbe College in the canton of Vaud – opened its arms. To me, as to others, who did not have the benefit of a professional title, and what is more, in a profession as locked by institutions! I can only be infinitely grateful to the people who gave me their trust and those who accompanied me on this journey. Because, indeed, it is at this same time of my life that will start my “search of recognition (institutional)”!

Here is the story:

The Vauders’ State Personnel Act (LPers) allows a limited accumulation of fixed-term contracts, particularly in the case of untrained personnel. Thus, thanks to the support of the management of my institution, I was able to exercise “freely” between 2010 and 2014 my duties in nearly 7 different disciplines … with only my professional experience and the few theoretical contributions resulting from my preparation for teacher competition in France. It took hard work and a lot in the first two or three years, with the help of caring colleagues! But the game was worth it because I was able to prove the value of the work done and affirm my pedagogical, didactic and human skills with my management and my collaborators. The Director of the time therefore maintained his confidence in me for the years that followed and, thus, we were able to negotiate with the Directorate General of Compulsory Education (DGEO), a contract of indefinite duration (CDI). This contract, however, included a two-part resolutive clause that ultimately required me to obtain a pedagogical title to continue performing my duties (which, all in all, makes sense if one wants to simply comply with the laws! ). And to obtain this permanent contract, I had to manage to enroll in a teacher training in Switzerland. And that’s where the gear gets caught first time!

In a desire to perpetuate my position, I had already undertaken – between 2010 and 2014 – an approach to integrate teacher training at the HEP Lausanne. But the university program I had chosen in France and my personal background did not allow me to benefit from full recognition in terms of ECTS credits. Thus, in order to be able to access the pedagogical training necessary to obtain my CDI, I had to (re) pass the bagatelle of 15 modules of sports training to the university. Resigning myself to the idea of following these modules, I applied for registration at UNIL. My request was rejected and I was declared “not registrable” for the following reason :

“After reviewing your file, we remember that you obtained your license after a single year of study at the University of Burgundy, since you were admitted directly into the third year through a VAE procedure. Your curriculum therefore has a substantial  difference compared to the bachelors programs offered by the University of Lausanne, which require the acquisition of 180 ECTS credits, ie the successful completion of 3 years of university studies, without a VAE.

Your license is not deemed equivalent to a bachelor’s degree awarded by the University of Lausanne.In view of the foregoing, the Registration and Registration Department finds that you  unfortunately do not fulfill the conditions for admission to the additional training program and therefore decides to refuse your application “.

A dead end

What do you mean? My license is not considered equivalent by the University of Lausanne? However, when I formulated my application to enter the Haute Ecole Pédagogique of Lausanne (HEPL) to integrate the teacher training of the secondary 1, the analysis of my file specified: “The license science and techniques of the  physical activities and sports, mention sports training of the University of Dijon,  obtained in 2003 is recognized as equivalent to university a bachelor issued by a Swiss“. What was it then necessary to understand? Quite simply, probably, that access to training in the canton of Vaud, in view of my “atypical” or unconventional situation, was a dead end.

So I turned with hope towards the neighboring canton of Neuchâtel, because there was my CDI in the key. We are in 2014. And there, surprise! While my efforts in the canton of Vaud took more than two years to reach the unfortunate conclusion mentioned above, the formalities undertaken at the HEP of BEJUNE and UNINE took only three weeks! And, what’s more, they have been successful! The teacher training in the sports field at the HEP BEJUNE (Berne Jura Neuchâtel) is a multidisciplinary training (two or three teachable disciplines), unlike the canton of Vaud. If my French license was validated for the sporting part, I still had to register at the University of Neuchâtel (UNINE) to obtain 36 ECTS in mathematics and 40 ECTS in geography allowing me to fill all the conditions of admission to the HEP. But, positive, I finally signed my CDI! However, the joy was only short-lived, the gear seized a second time!

Indeed, to follow such busy training complements, juggling a 75% occupied teaching position and a family life with 3 young children, seemed to be the most direct route to total burnout. On all the plans! Especially since my first university-level mathematics classes not only plunged me into profound moments of loneliness (of those that will be remembered years later), but gave me the feeling of being meaningless ! “These are not university supplements that I need, but to directly  integrate a pedagogical training! I have been teaching for 5 years now! ” I said then. And when we try too hard to row against the current, we often end up being carried away by the waves. For my part, I preferred to leave the boat before drowning!

So I tried a gallant last stand (at least I thought) to save my situation and keep my job. In 2017 – year-end of the first part of the training clause specified in my contract – I try again to access the HEP Lausanne by requesting an entry on record. I therefore address directly to the board of directors of this institution highlighting my seven years of teaching (with mastery of class) and the satisfaction of my two consecutive directors (letters in support). After having suffered shortly before a categorical refusal by the DGEO relating to a request for renegotiation of my contract, I was refused again entry to the HEPL! The ways of formation were indeed closed!

Recognition of informal skills

I could have let go! But as long as there is life, there is hope! So have I engaged my last strength in what I will call “the ultimate administrative recourse”: the Department of Training, Youth and Culture. We can easily guess the answer obtained by reading this passage from the letter written on June 23, 2017 from the head of the DFJC of the moment:

“[…] Furthermore, neither your skills nor the quality of your work are in the occurrence in question with regard to the documents annexed to your letter.

Nevertheless, the legal framework lays down the principle of the pedagogical title recognized by the CDIP. It follows that, given the current state of legislation, the practical skills acquired in the field can not compensate for the absence of the required title.

Indeed, the DGEO values the professional experience of its employees, firstly to the commitment, when setting the initial salary and, then, every year by granting an additional step according to the rules provided by the regulations. and directives on wage policy in the State  of Vaud. […] “

My story ends with the few lines that say a lot about what can be the institutional recognition of informal skills …

Patrice Petitqueux

Stock photos from Unsplash and Pexels

This post is also available in: Français (French)

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