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.
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.