Mobile Phones Banned in French Schools
Jean-Michel Blanquer, France's Minister of National Education, announced on Sunday that the government will institute a total ban on student mobile phones in primary and middle schools. The ban will go into effect at the beginning of the next school year in September 2018. This new restriction is the culmination of a promise made by Emmanuel Macron during his campaign for president.
Currently, French students are allowed to use their phones during lunch and breaks. However, the new ban would prevent them from using their devices except in the case of emergencies. The ban is being implemented as a part of a public health initiative to encourage children to exercise and socialize more during breaks rather than play games or use social media. The Ministry of National Education is particularity concerned with the effects of excessive mobile phone usage on children under the age of seven. They also hope to control cyber bullying by keeping phones out of the students' reach during the school day. However, the ban will not apply to high school students.
Teachers and parents have expressed skepticism at the new plan, as already existing classroom phone bans are commonly broken. However, the government is basing their plan on research conducted by the London School of Economics that showed increased productivity and test scores in schools where similar bans were implemented. The study demonstrated that classroom phone bans benefited lower performing students the most. Schools are still trying to decide how to best implement the ban as many parents want their children to have access to a phone while coming and going from school. Blanquer suggested that the phones could be kept in a lockbox and be given back to the students at the end of the day. However, teachers have countered that many schools don't have additional room for extra lockers.
In addition to the ban on mobile phones, the government also announced that choirs will be established in every French middle school by the beginning of 2019. The French government has set up a fund of $23.5 million to help jumpstart this new musical program. Unlike the ban on mobile devices, membership in these new school choirs will be voluntary and will not replace already existing music classes.
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