French school pupils will do 30 minutes of sport per day from September

All primary school pupils in France will do “30 minutes of sport per day" when the new school year starts in September, Emmanuel Macron has announced.

French school pupils will do 30 minutes of sport per day from September
French President Emmanuel Macron (C) a school in Marseille. (Photo: Sebastien Nogier / POOL / AFP)

The boost in physical activity classes for children aged six to 11 was due to come into effect in 2024, the year Paris hosts the Olympic and Paralympic Games, but has been brought forward after it was adopted as one of Macron’s campaign promises in the Presidential elections in April.

The move comes on the back of a government study that estimates four out of five children and adolescents in France do less than the recommended minimum of an hour’s physical activity every day – increasing their risk of developing chronic illnesses in later life, such as diabetes, cancer or cardiovascular disease, by 30 percent.

READ ALSO REVEALED: France’s new holiday dates for the 2022/23 school year

The study also claimed that young people in France have lost about a quarter of their cardiovascular capacity over the past 40 years.

Half an hour of planned physical activity a day can limit these risks and improve all-round fitness, it said.

Some schools already offer 30 minutes per day of activity, but this will become the case in all schools from September. In schools where the measure is already in place, it has been found to improve attention and concentration in class. 

The periods will be developed and organised by individual schools based on equipment and space at their disposal, but could including activities such as ball games, relay races or skipping. Importantly, for cash-strapped households, sportswear will not be required for these sessions.

Macron also announced that maths would return as an option for all students in Première class when they head back to lycée for the start of the new school year after being removed from the mandatory core curriculum in 2019.

“As I promised during the campaign, we will reintroduce the chance to choose mathematics as an option in the Première year of lycée,” Macron said during a visit to Marseille.

“There will still be the math specialty, but there will be the possibility offered to all students to have an hour and a half of maths that had been taken out of the common core,” he added.

The subject had been removed from the core subjects list for older students in the education reforms of 2019, becoming an option for pupils who chose to specialise in science-based topics. Previously all children took maths as a mandatory subject.

But, in March, an expert report recommended reintroducing mathematics into the core curriculum from  Première, at the rate of one and a half to two hours more per week. Macron has stopped short of reintroducing it as a compulsory subject for now.

“I think we must also get out of this dilemma, before it is mandatory. Let’s give freedom to children and families,” he said. “We’re going to offer them this freedom that corresponds to my commitment.”

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‘Public opinion is ready’ – These French senators want to legalise marijuana

A group of 31 French senators of the Socialist, Green and Republican parties have come together to write a statement calling for the legalisation of marijuana in France.

'Public opinion is ready' - These French senators want to legalise marijuana

France is known for having some of the strictest laws regarding marijuana consumption in Europe – while simultaneously maintaining one of the highest rates of cannabis usage in the EU. 

A group of French senators – coming from the Socialist, Green and centre-right Les Républicains parties – are trying to change those laws, and have come together to call for marijuana to be legalised in France.

The group of 31 co-signed a statement published in French newspaper, Le Monde, on Wednesday, August 10th.

In the statement, the senators promised to launch a ‘consultation process’ to submit a bill to legalise marijuana “in the coming months.”

The proposition was headed by Senator Gilbert-Luc Devinaz, a member of the Socialist Party, and gained support from the party’s leader, Patrick Kanner.

READ MORE: The long and winding road towards changing France’s cannabis laws

A report by the Assemblé Nationale, which was published in May 2021, estimated that nearly 18 million French people (more than 25 percent of the population) had already consumed marijuana, and that an additional 1.5 million consume it regularly.

This, coupled with the 2019 finding that nearly one in two French people (45 percent) said they were in favour of legalisation, according to a survey by the French Observatory of Drugs and Drug Addiction (OFDT), helped strengthen the senators’ position.

“Public opinion is ready, the legislature must act,” they wrote.

Their senators argue that legalising marijuana in France will allow the authorities to better protect French citizens, saying that legalising would not require “minimising the health impacts of cannabis consumption” but rather would allow regulation similar to “public policies for tobacco, alcohol or gambling.”

For the group of 31 senators, the benefits of legalisation would involve a better control over the “health quality of products consumed,” “curbing trafficking in disadvantaged areas,” developing large-scale prevention plans,” and finally the taxation of cannabis products and redirection of law enforcement resources. Decriminalisation – in their opinion – would not be sufficient as this would simply “deprive authorities the ability to act,” in contrast to legalisation. 

READ MORE: Is France moving towards legalising cannabis for recreational purposes?

“In the long term, new tax revenues would be generated from the cannabis trade and from savings in the justice and police sectors”, which would make it possible to mobilize “significant resources for prevention as well as for rehabilitation and economic development,” wrote the senators.

In France, the conversation around cannabis has evolved in recent years – former Health Minister (and current government spokesman) Olivier Véran said to France Bleu in September 2021 that “countries that have gone towards legalisation have results better than those of France in the last ten years,” adding that he was interested in the potential therapeutic use of cannabis.

Currently, the drug is illegal in France. Previously, it fell under a 1970-law of illicit drug use, making it punishable with up to a year prison and an up to €3,750 fine.

However, in 2020, the government softened the penalties, making it possible for those caught consuming it to opt for an on-the-spot fine of €200.

There is also an ongoing trial involving 3,000 patients to test the impacts of medical marijuana usage, particularly with regard to pain relief.