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France's Hollande promises pupils ‘no more homework’

AFP

French President François Hollande pledged to ditch homework on Tuesday as part of wide-ranging reforms aimed at improving standards for over-worked French pupils, especially those in disadvantaged areas.

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French President François Hollande potentially won the hearts of millions of future voters on Tuesday when he announced plans to abolish homework and reduce the number of pupils forced to repeat school years.

The comprehensive reforms will also increase the number of teachers across the country, boost aid to disadvantaged areas and target absenteeism. The school week would return to four and a half days rather than four – a change introduced under the former administration as a cost-cutting measure.

“Education is priority,” Hollande said at Paris’s Sorbonne University on Wednesday. “An education programme is, by definition, a societal programme. Work should be done at school, rather than at home,” in order to foster educational equality for those students who do not have support at home., he added.

He also promised incentives for teachers willing to work in “difficult areas”. Children will also be able to attend school at an earlier age in highlighted zones.

Following his election in May, Socialist Hollande vowed to make education a key focus of his five-year term and outlined his proposals in the speech on Tuesday. He has promised to employ some 60,000 teachers over five years, after Nicolas Sarkozy cut tens of thousands of jobs during his own mandate.

French children’s test scores are above the European average, but they suffer some of the longest working days on the continent, leaving school only at 5pm or 6pm.

(FRANCE 24 with wires)

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