The education authority
With 8 catchment areas and 78,000 pupils, this is one of the smallest education authorities in France but nevertheless the most extensive (83,846km2), as well as one of the least populated (250,000 inhabitants). Youngsters represent a large proportion of the Guyanese people, with half of the population under 25 years of age.
Geographically located in South America, French Guiana is unusual in that it falls within the reassuring administrative framework of Europe.
Bordered by Brazil and Surinam, two places that you simply have to visit during your year abroad French Guiana is a shining example of diversity and tolerance.
There are, in fact, over ten different communities that co-exist today with some forty or so nationalities, meaning that multilingualism is an integral part of the country's educational landscape. Regional languages are used on a daily basis alongside French and other languages used by immigrant populations (English, Spanish and Portugese).
With its relatively humid tropical climate, you will be astounded by the power of French Guiana’s tropical rainstorms and the strength of its sunshine. French Guiana is characterised by its unbelievable biodiversity, with 96% of its land taken up by one of the richest and least ecologically fragmented tropical rainforests in the world.
Tourist and cultural attractions
Immersed in the Amazon rainforest, French Guiana has an invigorating oceanic coastline and offers a very wide range of sporting activities (kite-surfing, cycling, quad-biking, canoeing, ancient woodland hiking, etc.). The sheer wealth and diversity of its luxuriant, captivating wild fauna and flora is truly mesmerising, whilst the remains of the bagne (forced labour camp), should you wish to visit them, will certainly prove to be an emotionally-charged experience, just like the launch of the Ariane, Vega and Soyouz rockets!
The Carnaval, meanwhile, is one of French Guiana’s key events and is guaranteed to please. Taking place between January and March (depending on the dates of epiphany and Ash Wednesday), the Carnaval is very characteristic of the country and incorporates elements of the Creole, Brazilian (Rio carnival) and Asian (dragons) cultures, symbolising the cultural diversity of the region.
The place of the teaching assistant within the education authority
An assistant in French Guiana earns around €1,100 a month. This is higher than that of assistants assigned to schools in mainland France in order to compensate for the rather high cost of living in French Guiana . Assistants should allow €300-450 a month for accommodation alone (the standards of which are not always the same as in Europe). The cost of food is also high, although local fish and vegetables are nevertheless reasonably priced. The lack of public transport should also be borne in mind, and we would recommend that if you have a bicycle you bring it with you.
If you like nature, rural life and authentic, age-old lands and cultures and enjoy sharing, challenge and adventure, then French Guiana is the place for you! So what are you waiting for? Why not come and share your culture and your talents with the children of French Guiana and take advantage of the opportunities that await you here...
'Assistant de langue sur le fleuve', a video about language assistants in French Guiana.