|Photo: Lionel Bonaventure / AFP / Getty Images|
French parents and teachers have been up-in-arms again about the government’s reforms to the education system. Not to a drastically changed school curriculum, but to the new system that means that the French scholarly weekly calendar will now be five days.
That age-old system that gave primary school French children Wednesdays off was done away with last year, causing quite a furore amongst teacher trade unions and the parents who felt that the longer school week would prove to be too disruptive to their little ones’ lives.
Protests last year failed to change opinions in any way with 25% of the country’s schools adopting this system. This year more schools are implementing the new system, and again this has sparked off more unnecessary debate. Unnecessary in light of a country whose students are lagging behind their European counterparts, and who still get their two-and-a -half month long vacances, even with the four day week.
I would absolutely understand if the protests were by the service providers. Service providers of the extra-curriculars like music, tennis, golf, art, English lessons, taekwondo – I could go on forever. Now with their clientele having to stay in school – this means there will be less time for extra-curriculars, as they now have to be squeezed in between school classes, and this definitely changes the business models of many of these providers.
I do not get the arguments from parents about the disruptive nature of the five day week to their petits. Was the mid-week pause not disruptive? For working parents surely this is a good thing? No more taking Wednesdays off because your little one does not have school and you don’t have a child minder? For companies, I would think this is a great thing for those unproductive Wednesdays that will be a thing of the past – what with the economy doing as it is at the moment? For the teachers grumbling about longer working hours…that could be an entire discussion on its own.
From all points of view though, there is a feeling that the status quo needed to change, but now that it is happening it is earning Hollande’s already embattled Socialist ruling party the ire of his people, from both the left and the right.
Hoping your rentrée was a good one. Here’s to another year!