Kiosque, Friday, 23 August 2013
The start of a new school year is coming up, and French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault is talking about it as if his government had to pass an exam in the weeks to come. ”This will be the first one for which my government will assume full responsibility,” he says in Le Figaro. “It will be particularly scrutinized.” One of the major issues is the reform of the school calendar or “the scholastic rhythm,” as it’s called, which dictates much of the rhythm of French family life for three-quarters of the year. Primary school students traditionally spend four very full days a week in class, but now Wednesdays off. Now they have class on Wednesday mornings and the rest of the week they will finish earlier in the afternoon. Minister of Education Vincent Peillon, also wanted to shorten summer holidays from 8 to 6 weeks, but he ran into fierce opposition on that score.
Ayrault also announced the state would be granting tenure to 24,000 school care-givers (“auxiliaire de vie scolaire” or “AVS”), to help handicapped children to pursue a normal education.
Other measures are aimed at the problem of juvenile delinquency.
Saint-Denis, in the North of Paris, has just imposed a curfew: 70 establishments frequented by kids now have to close at 8:00 p.m., ostensibly to limit the drug trafficking and the illicit sale of alcohol to minors. Some residents find this measure reassuring, Manuel Marques told Le Parisien ”this is a very good idea… to close the places where dealers are used to meeting up can only improve things.” But many firmly disagree with this measure, especially owners of the establishments that are targeted. Ali Amrouche, the patron of a bar complains to Le Parisien, “I start having clients at 7:00 p.m. and I’m supposed to close an hour later?”
How better to start a new school year than with a new set of controversies?
— Alice Guilhamon