France to 'experiment' with introducing uniforms in schools

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France to 'experiment' with introducing uniforms in schools

As France's schools return from the summer holidays, the education minister has announced that he wants to 'experiment' with something that is already common in many countries - imposing a school uniform.


The vast majority of school pupils in France do not wear a uniform - and schools that do have a uniform tend to be private religious schools or military schools.

However, this could be set to change as newly appointed education minister Gabriel Attal announced that he wants to set up a pilot scheme for uniforms in selected schools.

He told radio station RTL: "I am very much in favour of a trial so that it can advance the debate. The best way to get an idea is to test things out in schools."


He added that he did not think that uniforms were a "miracle' solution" but that the idea deserves to be tested.

He outlined an idea for a selection of schools to begin testing wearing a uniform, with further details of the experiment to be announced "in the autumn".

The idea of a school uniform is particularly popular with politicians on the right and far-right and several politicians including the head of Les Républicains Eric Ciotti and the far-right mayor of Beziers Robert Menard have called for the introduction of a uniform in schools.

It's an old debate, but the latest round takes place in the context of Attal's decision to ban the long, loose robe or dress known as the abaya.

He says that the garment is associated with Islam and therefore contravenes the country's secularism laws which ban the wearing of religious garments in schools. However France's Muslim Council say that the garment is worn by people of all faiths across the Middle East and much of Africa. 

READ ALSO Why the abaya is at the centre of France's latest secularism row

The abaya rule is to be enforced as schools return from September 4th, with the education ministry saying that 513 schools are "potentially" affected.

Supporters of a uniform say that it would prevent issues such as this, as well as combating inequality.


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