French lawmakers ban smartphones in schools

PARIS: French schoolchildren will have to leave their smartphones switched off or at home as the new academic year begins in September after lawmakers voted for a ban on Monday.

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The ban on smartphones, tablets and other connected devices, which will apply to pupils up to the age of 14-15, fulfils a campaign promise by centrist President Emmanuel Macron while being derided as “cosmetic” by the opposition.

MPs of Macron´s centrist LREM party and its allies gave final approval to the bill, while lawmakers on the left and right abstained from the vote, calling the law a “publicity stunt” that would change nothing.

Under the new law, schools may make exceptions for “pedagogical use”, extra-curricular activities, or for disabled pupils.

Secondary schools for their part can decide individually whether to impose a partial or total ban on connected devices.

A previous law, passed in 2010, already prohibited smartphone use during class.

Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer said the earlier law did not apply across the board and lacked teeth, while the new law moves France “into the 21st century”.

“It sends a message to French society” as well as countries around the world, he said.

Nearly nine in 10 French teens aged 12 to 17 own a smartphone.

-AFP

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