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France to Ban Cell Phone Use in Schools in 2018

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According to a report by The Guardian, the French government has announced that students will be banned from using cell phones in the country’s primary, junior and middle schools, starting September next year. While children will be allowed to bring their phones to school, they will not be allowed to get them out at any time until they leave, even during breaks.

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The measure, which was proposed in Emmanuel Macron’s successful presidential election campaign this year, will apply to all students from the time they start school at age of 6, up to about 15 when they start secondary school. Jean-Michel Blanquer, the French education minister, revealed that some education establishments already prohibited students from using their mobiles. 

“Sometimes you need a mobile for teaching reasons … for urgent situations, but their use has to be somehow controlled,” Macron said. The minister said the ban was also a “public health message to families”. The French headteachers’ union however remains skeptical about enforcing such a ban.

“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.

Parents seemed uncertain too. “It’s probably a good idea when the kids are in school, but they can’t ban them bringing them to school,” said Sabine. “My daughter goes to school and comes home on her own, and at this time of year it’s dark so early, so I want her to have a phone with her. It’s reassuring.”

Local education officials are now studying how the mobile ban can be put into effect.

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