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EDUCATION

Why French school pupils are among the happiest in the world

France is known for a rigid schooling system, but French students may be happier than their foreign counterparts, according to a new study.

Why French school pupils are among the happiest in the world
Photo: Racorn/Depositphotos
French 15-year-olds ranked as the 6th most satisfied with their life among the 35 OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries, and 15th of the 72 OECD and partner countries, beating the US and UK. 
 
Only 7.4 percent of French pupils say they are dissatisfied with their life, compared to a 12 percent average in an OECD study of well-being among 15-year-olds among some 72 countries, this comes as the third instalment of the PISA 2015 study. 
 
French pupils scored an average of 7.63 out of 10 on the life satisfaction scale, just below Switzerland, with Mexico coming top (data was unavailable for some countries like Australia).
 
Why so many smiling students?
 
Here are a few reasons to feel relieved you're sending your child to a school in France. 
 
Less time studying (and better grades)
 
One reason more French 15-year-olds may be skipping to school is that they spend less time chained to the text books, leaving more time for extra-curricular activities.
 
French students spend less time studying than the OECD average, with 10 percent of students spending at least 60 hours a week studying in and out of school compared to the average of 13.3 percent. Comparatively, 20 percent of US students spend 60 hours a week or more studying. 
 
But surprisingly, less time on the books doesn't lower performance in France.
 
Indeed, France is among a small section of counties where students have above average life satisfaction as well as above average performance, at least when it comes to science. 
 
However previous studies have noted that French students struggle with maths. 
 
 
Photo: AFP
 
 
Less schoolwork stress
 
French pupils score below the average for motivation to achieve, which might sound like a bad thing, but they also scored below average on schoolwork related anxiety. The US and UK scored above average on both counts.  
 
Less bullying
 
Students in France are safer from bullies in the school yard, placing below average for exposure to all types of bullying.
 
Only 3 percent of pupils said they had been hit and pushed around at school at least a few times a month compared to the OECD average of 4.3 percent. 
 
But…
 
France's pupils were far from top of the class in all the areas that are thought to decrease well-being, such as low engagement in sports and internet addiction.
 
French 15-year-olds showed lower than average engagement in sports and around 80 percent said they would be very upset if their internet connection was broken – significantly higher than the OECD average of 54 percent, putting them in the top three below Taipei Chinese and Swiss students.
 
 
 
 
By Rose Trigg

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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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