A decade since its establishment by Xavier Niel in Paris, École 42 has duplicated its groundbreaking educational model internationally. Aimed at addressing the tech industry’s talent shortage, the school targets 25,000 students globally by 2025. Recent campus openings include Luanda, Angola in July and Antananarivo, Madagascar in September.
Since 2013, École 42 has made a name for itself with its pedagogy based on teamwork and the absence of teachers. It offers free coding education to underprivileged youth. As a tool to repair the “social elevator” in the digital industry, the institution invites all profiles, without prerequisites on diploma, origin, gender, or age. To date, it boasts training 37,000 students, including a 22% female contingent.
The success of École 42’s unique educational approach has seen it exported beyond its seven locations in France. Today, it boasts 50 campuses worldwide, all funded by local partners. These span various regions from America (Quebec, Sao Paulo) to Asia (Tokyo, Seoul, Kuala Lumpur, Abu Dhabi, Bangkok), Europe (Rome, Berlin, London), and as far as Morocco and Australia.
Xavier Niel, the founder of École 42, and the founder of Iliad Group (Free’s parent company), notes that the global expansion has been remarkable. “In the beginning, we thought it would only work in France. The first schools abroad didn’t even have the name 42,” Niel told AFP. He adds that the school’s challenging month-long entrance exam, known as “piscine,” has become well-known to tens of thousands of people across 29 countries.
Mr. Niel’s educational endeavors are also a key diplomatic tool. He was often part of President Emmanuel Macron’s state visit delegations, such as the one in Algeria, where the announcement of a new 42 school was made. This diplomatic role signifies his growing “soft power” and helps to propagate French influence globally.
The need for specialized coding training is high as the tech industry continues to grow. The Montaigne Institute estimates that France alone will need to train 845,000 new people between 2023 and 2030 to meet the employment market’s needs. Other French-origin educational initiatives, such as Le Wagon and Simplon, also extend their programs internationally, enhancing French educational influence abroad.
The results speak for themselves. Sophie Viger, École 42’s general manager, confirms a 100% employment rate among the school’s graduates. Many students are scouted by headhunters even before they complete their studies, particularly in burgeoning sectors like artificial intelligence and cybersecurity.
Among the standouts of the 400 startups created by École 42 alumni are Alexis Barreyat and Kévin Perreau, co-founders of BeReal. This social network app was the most downloaded mobile application in the United States in early September, outpacing Instagram, TikTok, and others.