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LIVING IN FRANCE

‘Anti-French’ Facebook comments lead to man being refused residency permit

A man has been turned down for a French carte de séjour residency permit because of 'anti French' sentiment he had expressed on Facebook.

'Anti-French' Facebook comments lead to man being refused residency permit
Photo: AFP

The case became public after the Court of Appeal upheld the refusal by his local préfecture to extend the man's titre de séjour residency permit, and comes as Facebook agrees to work more closely with French authorities.

The man's comments on Facebook posed a “threat to public order” the Court of Appeal concluded, and he has now been ordered to leave the country within one month.

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Photo: AFP

The 31-year-old Moroccan man was originally turned down for an extension to his residency permit by the Préfecture de Police, which handles carte de séjour applications for people living in Paris, in July 2018, but he had appealed the decision.

Now the Court of Appeal upheld the refusal and concluded that the man was “a threat to public order because of his conduct and his words and writings”.

The court heard that his Facebook account revealed an “anti-Western, conspiratorial and anti-French social discourse”.

In addition he had published on Facebook a photograph of a handgun as well as “photographs of women taken without their knowledge on public transport or in public space”.

The man was known to police, and had been arrested while in France, but was never charged with a crime.

In recent months Facebook has committed to working more closely with French authorities, in particular in disclosing the details of users who post racist, homophobic or antisemitic content.

While generally applications for residency merely require a person to be legally resident in France and fulfill certain income criteria, the test for citizenship is sterner and requires people to prove that they are fully integrated into French life and uphold French values.

As well as a language test (for people aged under 60) citizenship candidates are required to undertake an interview at the préfecture where they will be tested on their knowledge of France, French values and French history, and also asked to confirm their commitment to France and its ideals.

And the authorities have the discretion to turn down anyone they don't feel is sufficiently integrated.

In 2018 a woman who had successfully got through the application process was turned down at the last minute for refusing to shake hands with local officials during the citizenship ceremony.

While earlier this year a nurse was denied citizenship for 'working too much' – or working more hours per week than specified in French working regulations.

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EDUCATION

Fees to class sizes – what you need to know about private schools in France

In many countries, private schools are the preserve of the wealthy elite, but France has a wide network of private schools that are well within the financial reach of ordinary families - James Harrington explains more.

Fees to class sizes - what you need to know about private schools in France

The education system in France has its problems – at the start of the new school year some 4,000 teaching posts were unfilled and the government has launched an ‘emergency plan’ for English language lessons – but there’s no doubting there are wonderful schools and wonderful teachers making every effort to ensure children from aged three to 18 get the education they deserve.

However the country also has a sizeable network of private schools and around 15 percent of French children go to a private school. While some are undoubtedly expensive and elite, others are surprisingly affordable and provide an extra option for parents when deciding on  a school for their children.

Here’s what you need to know; 

Different types

There are two types of private school – sous contrat and hors contrat.

Sous contrat schools, of which there are about 7,500 in France, are part-funded by the state – teachers are paid by the Department of Education, for example – but also charge fees. France’s numerous Catholic schools, or regional language schools are usually sous contrat.

Hors contrat schools – which number about 2,500 – must still meet general education requirements but can choose their teaching methods and have no state funding. Private international schools found in most big cities, such as the American School of Paris, are hors contrat, but still follow mainstream teaching methods.

For comparison, there are around 60,000 state schools in France.

Prices

Yes, there are expensive private schools in France. Sending your child to the exclusive Ecole des Roches Private Boarding School, for example, will set you back more than €12,000 a term – not quite Eton or Winchester-level fees, but still well out of the reach of a large portion of the population. But, like Eton and Winchester, they’re not the norm. 

On average, fees for a day pupil – one who goes home at the end of the school day, rather than one who boards at the school – are in the region of around €2,250 a year. Meals are not included, and are generally charged at a slightly higher daily price than at state schools.

Financial aid, including scholarships, may be available for less well-off families.

READ ALSO French school canteens to cut cheese course as inflation bites

Boarding and hours

A large number of state and private schools offer Monday-Thursday boarding. It is not uncommon for pupils who excel at certain subjects or sports to attend collèges or lycées some distance from home, and board during the week.

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Daily school hours, meanwhile, are broadly similar, with children generally starting their school day at around 8am and finishing soon after 4pm on school days. Collège and lycée pupils also go into school on Wednesday mornings, and some may have classes on a Saturday, too.

Popularity

Smaller class sizes and a reputation for “better” results means that private schools are increasingly popular. The number of French private schools has increased steadily over the last decade, and now 15-20 percent of pupils go to a private establishment of some form. 

On the whole, private schools tend to do better in results league tables – perhaps in part because of the additional investment from parents, but also because class sizes tend to be smaller, which allows for more one-to-one education. Smaller class sizes and more individual attention mean they may also be a better option for children who struggle in big schools.

READ ALSO What kind of school in France is best for my kids?

Qualifications

State schools and sous contrat schools teach to the national curriculum, which leads, in turn, to brevet and baccalaureate qualifications.

In contrast, some hors contrat private schools offer different qualifications, including American High School Diplomas and SATs, British GCSEs and A-Levels, or the international baccalaureate.

Religion

Although many sous contrat schools are Catholic, most readily accept non-Catholic children and are not allowed to indoctrinate the Catholic faith. Hors contrat schools, on the other hand, may include a religious element to their teaching.

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