French schools must display Republican motto

Liberté, egalité, fraternité, the famous motto of the French Republic must be displayed on the facade of all French schools and the Tricolour flag must also be on show outside all establishments, the French Senate ruled on Wednesday.

French schools must display Republican motto
File photo

France’s Education Minister Vincent Peillon stressed recently his desire to instil the values of the French Republic in the country’s school children.

Well his quest will have been helped with a ruling in the Senate this week, which states the French Revolutionary motto of Liberté, Egalité and Fraternité should be proudly displayed on the facade of all schools, including private ones that are "under contract" with the state.

Not only this, but the Senate ruled that the French Tricolour must be flown outside each establishment and the 1789 “Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen” must also be “visibly” on show at each school.

The new rulings were part of an amendment to the education reform bill, that senators began reviewing on Wednesday.

Many French schools already fly the Tricolour flag but there is currently no obligation under law for them to do so.

“This is to reaffirm the bond between the school and the nation and to contribute to the pupils’ learning of the foundations of the constitution,” said Peillon.

President Francois Hollande vowed to make young people the focus of his presidency before his election last year. The education bill put for forward by Peillon includes a commitment to create 60,000 new jobs in education.

However France’s national audit office, the Cour Des Comptes issued a strongly worded report this week criticizing the management of teachers, saying this was the reason behind a decline in student achievement and a crisis in teaching.

“The creation of 60,000 new jobs will be in vain if the management rules are left unchanged,” the report said.

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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.