French teachers should work harder: Royal

10th November 2006, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Nov 10, 2006 (AFP) - The Socialist favourite in France's presidential race Ségolène Royal caused more dissension in the ranks Friday after she was shown in a video chastising teachers for not working hard enough.

PARIS, Nov 10, 2006 (AFP) - The Socialist favourite in France's presidential race Ségolène Royal caused more dissension in the ranks Friday after she was shown in a video chastising teachers for not working hard enough.

In a clip circulating on the Internet, Royal is seen telling a meeting that "revolutionary ideas" are needed to reform the French education system, and that teachers in secondary schools should spend 35 hours a week on the premises as opposed to 17 hours at present.

"I am not going to sing it from the roof-tops, because I don't want to come under attack from the teaching unions," she says on the video, which was filmed in January in the western town of Angers.

She described it as an "absurdity" that many state sector teachers use their spare time to give private tuition via "companies that are quoted on the stock exchange".

"We need to take a step, perhaps with the new generation (of teachers) if the current lot say — sorry, we've got our rights, 17 hours and then we are off home," Royal says.

Royal's spokesman Gilles Savary confirmed the video was genuine, but said its broadcast on the Internet was "an underhand attack" ahead of next Thursday's vote by Socialist party (PS) members to designate a candidate in April's presidential election.

Teachers make up a large proportion of the party's 200,000 card-carrying members and are likely to be angered by her remarks.

Royal is the favourite of the three contenders to win the PS nomination, but must get 50 percent of the vote next week if she is to win outright against former ministers Laurent Fabius and Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

If she fails to reach 50 percent, there will be a two-way second round with the runner-up on November 23.

Posing as an outsider willing to take on the party establishment, Royal has made a number of pronouncements that her critics say are at odds with official policy — calling for example for tough discipline for juvenile delinquents and "popular juries" to monitor the performance of politicians.

These initiatives have led to mistrust among many inside the party but have reinforced her appeal among the electorate, polls show.

The 53 year-old head of the Poitou-Charentes regional council emerges consistently in surveys as the Socialist leader with the best chance of beating the likely right-wing contender for the presidency, ruling party chief Nicolas Sarkozy, 51.

The latest poll — released by CSA Friday for Marianne magazine — suggested she will beat Sarkozy by 51 percent to 49 in the two-way second round of the election.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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