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EDUCATION

French and European flags to fly in classrooms of schools in France

The French parliament has voted in favour of a bill proposing that the flying of the French and European flags be made obligatory in all classrooms in France.

French and European flags to fly in classrooms of schools in France
Photo: AFP
* For language learners: we've highlighted some useful vocabulary in this news story. You'll find the French translations at the bottom of the article.
 
Part of the new education reforms presented to parliament this week, the bill was added as an amendment by MP Eric Ciotti and would also make it obligatory for every school child to know the words to the national anthem (la Marseilleise). 
 
The European flag had not initially been included in the amendment proposed by Ciotti but it was added later, with the MP calling it “an important step forward”.
 
The move would make it mandatory for “each of the classrooms across establishments, public and private” all the way up from Reception Year to high school classes. 
 
“[The measure] will be applied in a very simple way [with] all costs covered by the ministry,” said France's Minister for Education Jean-Michel Blanquer. 
 
Despite already having been approved by parliament, the measure will only come into force once Blanquer's entire education bill has been voted through. 
 
However the measure has been criticised by left-wing politicians in France who said that they had not been given enough time to express their views on it. 
 
An MP from far-left party La France Insoumise Michel Larive said that it was having flags on the front of schools was a sufficient way of showing respect for the country “without drifting towards nationalism”.
 
“Schools are not [army] barracks,” he added. 
 
 
 
French vocab to learn
 
bill – un projet de loi
obligatory – obligatoire
national anthem – un hymne national
flag – un drapeau
classroom – une salle de classe
Reception Year – la moyenne section
high school – un lycée
to approve – approuver
left-wing – de gauche
 
We're aiming to help our readers improve their French by translating relevant vocabulary from our news stories of the day. Did you find articles like these useful? Do you have any suggestions? Let us know.

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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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