Mobile phones will be banned from schools in France from next September, the country’s education minister has announced.
Jean-Michel Blanquer said the move – which was mooted in President Emmanuel Macron’s election manifesto – would encourage children to play outside during break and lunchtime, and may also help combat cyber-bullying.
“These days the children don’t play at break time anymore, they are just all in front of their smartphones and from an educational point of view that’s a problem,” Mr Blanquer was quoted as saying.
“It’s important that children under the age of seven are not in front of these screens.”
Pupils are already barred from using their mobiles in the classroom, but the new restrictions will also prevent them from taking them out at break, lunch and between lessons.
Mr Blanquer – who described the government’s decision as a matter of “public health” – admitted the practicalities of the ban had not been worked out, but suggested that schools could provide lockers for children to store them during the day.
“We are currently working on this and it could work in various ways,” he continued.
“Phones may be needed for teaching purposes or in cases of emergency so mobile phones will have to be locked away.”
The government’s proposal only applies to primary schools and middle schools, with high schools – where children between 15 and 18-years-old are taught – continuing to allow students to use their phones.
Mr Macron’s culture minister Francoise Nyssen made another announcement about the future of the country’s schools on Monday – choir singing is to be added to the curriculum.
Children will have the opportunity to practice for two hours a week, with the plan to roll classes out to all French primary schools over the next two years.