The Matignon Accords and Kanak Education in New Caledonia
Signed in June 1988, the Matignon Accords have been credited with bringing peace and development to the French Pacific territory of New Caledonia. For the indigenous Kanak population, however, the Accords have led to demobilisation, division and disillusionment in an independence movement that had shown considerable unity and strength. This paper examines the political origins and consequences of the Accords and discusses concerns about the development model upon which they are based. It outlines the educational promises of the Matignon Accords which were devised in response to growing Kanak dissatisfaction with and mobilisation against French education. The paper shows that, in the face of fundamental critiques Kanak people have made of French education in New Caledonia, the orientation of the territory's educational authority, the Vice-Rectorat, remains unchanged. It also highlights attempts by the Vice-Rectorat to downplay and even conceal the failure of the school system to address the underachievement of Kanak pupils. The paper presents a critique of a number of educational and training initiatives that have been introduced in line with the Matignon Accords including the introduction of Kanak languages into the curriculum, the production of locally oriented school text books, the Programme d'Enrichissement Instrumental and Operation 400 Cadres. It argues that these programmes are an integral part of an approach to development that is leading not towards Kanak independence but to the strengthening of French control and influence in New Caledonia.