Hope in the Suburbs


It sounds like the title of a soap opera, but ‘banlieus’ or ‘suburbs’ has a totally different connotation in Paris. As some banlieue residents have noted in the past, “If I put the name of the suburb where I live on a job resume, chances are I won’t get a return phone call”.

Hope, or ‘Espoir’ is the title of Nicolas Sarkozy’s new plan for distressed Parisian suburban residents. According to today’s Le Figaro news, 150,000 French youth graduate from school each year without the adequate qualifications to find a job. Sarkozy has proposed two themes – flood the suburbs with police to create a presence on the streets, take the streets back from the gangs. He insists that government’s first responsibility is to provide security. Then he wants to offer a ‘second chance’ to youth – who are willing to ‘get up in the morning’.
(If that is not an insinuation – that some of the unemployed don’t really ‘want’ to get up in the morning, maybe I’m not reading French so well these days).

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So, hope is being offered – next to be considered, does the money to fund these progams come from heaven?
There is some skepticism that the plans for additional education and job training may not materialize into Euros as quickly one would hope.