T HB desire to rationalize the system of education is often inter-preted by observers outside France as an indication of theCartesian spirit which is alleged to be an aspect of 'the French character'. The driving forces behind the succession of Plans which have had an increasing bearing upon education have not been simply the expression of a rational cast of mind. More compelling pressures have been the determination to modernize French industry and the desire to regain the prestige of a powerful prosperous nation. 'The first modernisation and equipment Plan was a plan for economic recovery. The problem was to put our productive machinery back into motion, and to wrest the economy from its pre-war stagna.. tion.'! Between 1946 and 1958 when the third Plan was drawn up, new pressures had made themselves felt which drew education into the planners' purview. The school population was increasing very fast, partly because of the phenomenal rise in the birth-rate and partly because more and more pupils were staying on in school beyond the age limit of compulsory attendance.· If this large new school population was to become a dynamic factor in the resurgence of France rather than an encumbrance, plans had to be made for the employment of young people leaving school from 1963 onwards.