The education minister announced on Thursday that 160 families have had their welfare payments stopped as a result of their children continuing to play truant from school.

"/> The education minister announced on Thursday that 160 families have had their welfare payments stopped as a result of their children continuing to play truant from school.

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EDUCATION

Benefits cut for families with truant kids

The education minister announced on Thursday that 160 families have had their welfare payments stopped as a result of their children continuing to play truant from school.

Benefits cut for families with truant kids
Bohdan Piasecki

The controversial new policy of scrapping benefits for families who fail to get their children to show up in school was introduced in January this year.

The policy, known as the Loi Ciotti (Ciotti Law), stipulates that an unexplained absence of four half-days in one months is enough to trigger the process. 

If families are unable to get their children to return to school, all welfare payments that are linked to the child will be terminated.

Education minister Luc Chatel claimed the tough policy had been a success.

“There were 32,000 families who were warned because their children were playing truant,” he told news channel i-Télé on Thursday. 

Those families were invited to meetings with school authorities and “half the cases were resolved after this first meeting,” he said.

The remaining families were invited to a second meeting, after which “only 160 resulted in the suspension of benefits.”

The minister said the policy had worked for 99.5 percent of the families concerned.

“This shows that the threat of stopping welfare payments, which was heavily criticized, works,” he said. 

“It makes the parents responsible and forces them to realize that they must get involved in the education of their child.”

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EDUCATION

Schools to close as French teachers strike over Covid rules

Around three-quarters of French teachers plan to go on strike onThursday to protest the government's shifting rules on Covid testing for students, forcing the closure of half the country's primary schools, a union said Tuesday.

Schools to close as French teachers strike over Covid rules
Photo: Fred Tanneau/AFP

The strike led by the Snuipp-FSU union, the largest among primary school teachers, comes after the latest of several changes on testing and isolation requirements for potential Covid cases announced by Prime Minister Jean Castex late Monday.

After seeing long lines of parents outside pharmacies and labs in recent days to test children in classes where a case was detected, Castex said home tests could now be used to determine if a student could return to school.

But teachers say class disruptions have become unmanageable with the spread of the highly contagious Omicron coronavirus variant.

“Students cannot learn properly because attendance varies wildly, and a hybrid of in-house and distance learning is impossible to put in place,” the Snuipp-FSU said, adding that absent teachers are not being replaced.

It is also demanding the government provide facemasks for staff, including the more protective FFP2 masks, and CO2 monitors to check if classrooms are sufficiently ventilated.

“Not only does the current protocol not protect students, staff or their families, it has completely disorganised schools,” the union said, claiming that classes have effectively been turned into “daycare centres.”

Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer has said the government is doing everything possible to avoid outright school closures that could cause havoc for parents and jeopardise learning for thousands, especially those in low-income families.

“I know there is a lot of fatigue, of anxiety… but you don’t go on strike against a virus,” Blanquer told BFM television on Tuesday.

As of Monday some 10,000 classes had been shut nationwide because of Covid cases, representing around two percent of all primary school classes, Blanquer said.

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