Divisive French education bill gets green light

25th March 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, March 25 (AFP) - The French Senate early Friday gave the final go-ahead to a controversial education bill that has prompted angry marches by thousands of students through the streets of French towns and cities.

PARIS, March 25 (AFP) - The French Senate early Friday gave the final go-ahead to a controversial education bill that has prompted angry marches by thousands of students through the streets of French towns and cities.

The bill, adopted on Thursday by the lower house of parliament, was to go into effect in the autumn, Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin had announced earlier this month.

Some 130,000 teenagers joined countrywide demonstrations against the school bill, despite a recent agreement by Education Minister Francois Fillon to suspend its most contentious provision - an overhaul of the baccalaureat high school-leaving exam.

Ministers insisted that the bill - which is meant to halt a decline in standards that today results in 150,000 18-year-olds leaving school with no qualification - was not open to significant further change.

A poll published in early March showed that 71 percent of the public was in favour of a reform of the school system, and that a clear majority backed the ideas contained in the Fillon bill. These include an extension of foreign language teaching and guaranteed extra tuition for failing students.

But behind the students' campaign lie more general grievances concerning funding, staff levels, deteriorating premises and the right of police to enter schools in search of drugs or weapons, union leaders said.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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