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France prepares high school cell phone ban

By Gong Ming (People's Daily)    09:10, January 16, 2018

France is banning the use of mobile phones at school, encouraging students to interact more with one another, January 15, 2017. Photo: Reuters

Paris (People’s Daily) – France education officials are putting the finishing touches on a measure that will prohibit students from using cell phones at the nation’s primary, junior, and middle schools.

France’s Minister of Education, Jean-Michel Blanquer, said last month the measure would go into effect at the beginning of the next school year.

Blanquer wasted no time in rolling out the initiative as it was one of French President Emmanuel Macron’s campaign promises.

Without specifying the details, the Education Minister acknowledged that mobile phones could be used “for educational purposes” and “for emergency situations” and said a study on the subject is underway and could be released this spring.

In 2015, more than eight out of 10 teenagers had a smartphone. In the same study four years earlier, two out of 10 used them.

Mobile phones have a ubiquitous presence at primary and secondary schools. But banning them at school is not a new thing in France.

In 2010, mobile phones were first banned on school campuses as part of the country’s code of education. The measure stated that the use of mobile phones was prohibited “during teaching activities and in places restricted by internal rules” at education institutions.

But teachers and school officials found the regulation too complicated to enforce.

At least half of France’s schools already have a mobile phone ban place, while others allow students to use them during breaks, or at designated areas.

At Geneviève de Gaulle-Anthonioz, a middle school in Loiret, France, the ban has been in place for years.

“Phones will be confiscated when students use them,” said Laurent Foussereau, the school’s principal.

“This ban avoids the temptation to take pictures in the schoolyard or play stupid games on social networks,” said Foussereau.

But implementation offers its own set of challenges, and some have suggested using cell phone jamming devices or providing mobile phone lockers at school.

The Ministry of Education has listed the initiatives used at school’s across the country and has also started looking at foreign examples.

A preferred method of enforcement has not been decided, and schools will have a few options.

Teachers and parents applauded the measure as they felt the mobile devices were a source of conflict among teenagers.

The consensus was that young students should learn how to enjoy playing and interacting with one another rather than always staring at their cell phones.

But some expressed concerns over the efficiency of a new mobile phone ban as the current one in place has not proven to be successful. 

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