Emmanuel Macron won the backing to force schools to fly the French and EU flags in classrooms
MPs voted in favour of the rule as part of the French President’s campaign to overhaul the education system, which has already seen mobile phones banned and homework scrapped. Children will also have to learn to chorus to La Marseillaise, the country’s fiery national anthem. Lawmakers are currently rewriting some of the country’s education laws, following Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer’s call to create “écoles de confiance,” or “schools of trust”.
The amendment was put forward by conservative MP Eric Ciotti, who had urged for France’s tricolour bleu, red and white flag to be displayed inside all classrooms alongside the European flag.
Mr Ciotti was also the one to call for the lyrics to the national anthem’s famous chorus to be displayed in both “state and private schools”.
The initial provision stated schools were under the obligation to display the French flag, but not the European one. Mr Ciotti welcomed the addition as “an important step forward”.
Writing on Twitter he said: “I very much welcome the vote in favour of my amendment making it compulsory for schools to display the French flag in every single classroom.
Revamping France’s monolithic education system was one of President Macron’s key campaign pledges
“The values and symbols of the French Republic belong to all French people, and these values should be instilled in them from an early age.”
Mr Blanquer, who is also in favour of the amendment, said that the new measure would be “very easy” to implement and relatively inexpensive, stating that the flags would be paid for using government funds.
But the provision sparked an outcry from leftist MPs, who claimed the amendment marked a worrying drift towards populism.
MP Michel Larive, a member of the far-left France Unbowed (La France Insoumise) party, said that flying the flags outside schools was “enough”, and that it was possible to “respect the homeland” without falling into the trap of “nationalism”.
Children will also have to learn to chorus to La Marseillaise, the country’s fiery national anthem
The amendment was put forward by conservative MP Eric Ciotti
He said: “Schools are not military barracks.”
MP Elsa Faucillon, of the French Communist Party, accused parliament of blurring the lines between “identity” and “equality”, stressing that the education reform should focus on the latter issue.
Socialist lawmaker George Pau-Langevin slammed the measure as futile and said that it could be seen as a provocation by some teachers.
Revamping France’s monolithic education system was one of President Emmanuel Macron’s key campaign pledges, despite fears that any effort to modernise the infamously rigid system risked to upset teachers, parents, employers and union bosses.
Lawmakers are currently rewriting some of the country’s education laws to create “schools of trust”
n December 2017, Mr Blanquer announced that pupils would be barred from bringing their mobile phones into school, saying that the move would encourage them to take part in healthier playground activities, such as football.
Teachers welcomed the ban, saying that phones had become a “distraction” in classrooms. Some nine out of ten French teens aged 12 to 17 own a smartphone.
The ban also aims to protect children from harmful online content such as violence or pornography, as well as cyberbullying.
It also makes it easier for teachers to confiscate phones if necessary.
Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer
In 2017 Mr Blanquer announced that pupils would be barred from bringing their phones into school
The education chief has also scrapped “traditional” homework, insisting schools should instead run after-hours homework clubs run by retired or practising teachers, or university students. He has argued that children should have finished all of their set work before going home.
“Homework is important,” Mr Blanquer told the French daily Le Parisien daily when discussing the education reform in June 2017.
“We need to do exercises, to learn things off by heart. But at the same time, homework can develop inequalities between families because the conditions are not always the same … it can also poison family life on a Sunday evening.”
School children are under no obligation to attend the homework clubs but are strongly advised to do so, and teachers have been offered overtime pay to run them.