The French government is to ban students from using mobile phones in the country’s primary, junior and middle schools. Children will be allowed to bring their phones to school, but not allowed to get them out at any time until they leave, even during breaks.
A proposed ban was included in Emmanuel Macron’s successful presidential election campaign this year.
Jean-Michel Blanquer, the French education minister, said the measure would come into effect from the start of the next school year in September 2018. It will apply to all pupils from the time they start school at age of six – up to about 15 when they start secondary school. Blanquer said some education establishments already prohibited pupils from using their mobiles.
“Sometimes you need a mobile for teaching reasons … for urgent situations, but their use has to be somehow controlled,” he told RTL radio. The minister said the ban was also a “public health message to families”, adding: “It’s good that children are not too often, or even at all, in front of a screen before the age of seven.”
The French headteachers’ union was skeptical that the ban could be enforced. “This new announcement from the [education] ministry leaves us dubious because we’re having trouble understanding what is the real issue here. In general, we’re used to them being logical and pragmatic about things, and here, we can’t find the logic or the pragmatism in the announcements,” said Philippe Vincent, the union’s deputy general secretary.
Outside one middle school in the centre of Paris, pupils asked about the measure seemed unimpressed. “I don’t understand how it will work. Who will take the phones, where will they put them … how will we get them back?” said one 13-year-old boy.
– excerpt and image from ‘France to ban mobile phones in schools from September’, Kim Willsher, The Guardian, 11 Dec 2017