Petroleum workers from all corners of the globe moved in, including many French speakers. Elf had discovered Frigg and begun to build up an organisation in Stavanger. Many people were brought from France, and a number had their families with them. Most would be in Norway for two-five years, and needed educational provision for their children. The French school opened in 1972, leasing the premises from Kampen school which it still occupies. Although it was the arrival of the oil industry which prompted the creation of this facility, neither Elf nor other companies had anything directly to do with its establishment or operation. It represented a fantastic provision for Elf employees. Children who had gone to school in France, or who were to continue their education there, could attended classes with a French curriculum and teaching.
A privately-owned institution, the school falls under Mission Laïque Française, an organisation which runs schools outside France where major French companies operate.1 The teachers are French, and come to work in Stavanger for three-year periods.
The school was attended by 100 French children and young people in 1977. During the 1980s, a Norwegianisation of the oil industry occurred as locals acquired the necessary expertise to take over. This reduced the need to import personnel for the industry. That also applied to Elf. Fewer French families came to Stavanger, and the number of pupils at the school declined. To prevent its closure, Norwegian children were invited to apply for the further education stage. The only requirement was that they had studied French in secondary school – essential since all teaching is in French.
Today, the school has 60-70 pupils, both French and Norwegian, in classes from primary level to the first year of further education. A nursery section caters from children from three to six.
Unlike Stavanger’s French-Norwegian Cultural Centre, which is subordinate to the French embassy, the school is independent. But it cooperates closely with the centre. The latter’s media facility is much used, and the pupils also use the centre’s premises to exhibit art they have created in class.
1According to the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the object of Mission Laïque Française is to spread French language and culture by encouraging dialogue between cultures.
1Mission Laïque Française er en organisasjon som driver skoler utenfor Frankrike hvor store franske firma opererer. Formålet er å spre fransk språk og kultur ved å oppmuntre til dialog mellom kulturer. Minestère des Affaires Ètrangères.