By Véronique Hélénon (auth.)

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The level of general morality would gain everything by perfecting itself. 48 To these Masons “the superior elite . . ”49 Despite egalitarian principles, even at the primary level the school system was not exempt from selection. Students from the rural areas were least equipped to perform in this environment. To attend school, one was expected to invest in proper attire, and it was common to see children in the countryside walking barefoot for long miles to spare their only pair of shoes that they held in their hands until entering their school building.

This latter option prevailed, and by the decree of November 23, 1889, the Ecole Coloniale became a mixed institution with two distinct sections: one for the colonized only, the indigenous section, and one for French only, the French section. The indigenous section progressively became a matter of secondary importance, and officially closed in 1927, while the French section became the Ecole Coloniale itself. Earlier attempts to train French students for colonial service had been made with the Collège des Stagiaires, opened in 1874 in Saigon under the leadership of Etienne Aymonier.

World War I interrupted education as the school closed in 1914. It was decided that time spent under the military flags would count as service accomplished in the colonies,119 and the decree of June 2, 1919, reduced the academic year 1919–1920 from two years to one for students who had passed their competitive examinations before August 1, 1914, but who had not been able to complete the curriculum. 121 A list of 61 students killed in action published in the Bulletin de la Société des anciens élèves de l’Ecole coloniale,122 reveals the names of six French Caribbeans: Osman Attuly, Auril, Blondel de la Rougerie, Butel, Eutrope, and Le Merle de Beaufond.

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