French students to be banned to use mobile phones in school

French school students will be banned from using mobile phones anywhere on school grounds from September after the lower house of parliament passed what it called a detox law for a younger generation increasingly addicted to screens.

The centrist president Emmanuel Macron had promised during his election campaign that he would outlaw children’s phones in the nursery, primary and middle-schools, until around the age of 15.

The new law bans phone-use by children in school playgrounds, at breaktimes and anywhere on school premises. Legislation passed in 2010 already states children should not use phones in class.

During a parliamentary debate, lawmakers from Macron’s La République En Marche party said banning phones in schools meant all children now had a legal “right to disconnect” from digital pressures during their school day.
 



Some in Macron’s party had initially sought to go even further, arguing that adults should set an example and the ban should be extended to all staff in schools, making teachers surrender their phones on arrival each morning.

But Macron’s education minister, Jean-Michel Blanquer, brushed this aside, saying it wasn’t necessary to extend the ban to teachers and staff. The minister said that the school phone ban for children would “make us all reflect on our phone use in society, including adults”.

But the leftwing MP Hervé Saulignac pointed out that, during the debate about children being dangerously addicted to phones and unable to concentrate on their studies, scores of lawmakers were sitting through the session absent-mindedly tapping away on their own phones.

Opposition parties warned that major questions remained about how to enforce the ban, which will affect millions of children. The details of how schools could put the law in place have been left deliberately open.

Politicians estimate that more than 90% of French children aged between 12 and 17 have a phone. Blanquer had previously suggested that children could place their phones in lockers when they arrive at school in the same way that government ministers “place their phone in a box before cabinet meetings”.

But some schools have complained that setting up individual lockers in huge schools would be costly, impractical and difficult to police. Rights groups warned that schools would not have the legal right to confiscate phones.

 

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