French President Hollande promises pupils ‘no more homework’
Wide-ranging reforms to improve standards for over-worked and disadvantaged pupils in France has included a surprising pledge to ditch homework.
Following his election in May, French President François Hollande has announced plans to abolish homework and reduce the number of pupils forced to repeat school years.
Hollande vowed to make education a key focus of his five-year term, and so outlined a set of ambitious proposals in his speech last Tuesday.
The comprehensive reforms will increase the number of teachers across the country, boost aid to disadvantaged areas, and target absenteeism.
A cut in school days was introduced by the previous administration as a cost-cutting measure, but Hollande’s new plan will see school days return to four and a half from four.
While French children’s test scores are above the European average, they suffer some of the longest working days on the continent. Children often only leave school between 5pm and 6pm.
Hollande addressed the country at Paris’s Sorbonne University on Wednesday, calling education a “priority”. He stressed the importance of fostering fairness for students who did not have support at home, saying, “An education programme is, by definition, a societal programme. Work should be done at school, rather than at home.”
He also promised incentives for teachers willing to work in “difficult areas”. Children will be able to attend school at an earlier age in highlighted, disadvantaged zones.
Hollande plans to employ some 60,000 teachers over five years, after Nicolas Sarkozy cut tens of thousands of jobs during his own mandate.
A no-homework policy has proven globally popular, with some schools in the US also adopting it. In lieu of assigning homework, teachers at Gaithersburg Elementary School in Maryland ask students to spend 30 minutes a night reading. Back in Europe, a German high school banned homework in an effort to help students unwind.