Monday, 9 September 2013

French Education Bill: ... Secular and Scientific ... Not Religious


... forbids pupils from questioning teachers "in the name of their religious beliefs".

Education Minister Vincent Peillon says his new secular charter, which was revealed on Monday after 10am, is designed to promote "absolute respect for freedom of conscience". 
The document is to appear in a prominent place in every school, and remind teachers and pupils of a list of secular, Republican principles.
The charter, which contains 15 articles, was officially unveiled in a special ceremony at a Lycée in Ferté-sous-Jouarre in the Seine et Marne department, near Paris.
The document itself contains a number of broad, philosophical principles, that have already provoked a backlash.
Article 9 states: "Secularism implies the rejection of all violence and all discrimination, guarantees equality between girls and boys, and rests on a culture of respect and understanding of the other."
While the charter allows for pupils' free expression, article number 11 states that "Staff have a duty of strict neutrality. They must not show their political or religious convictions in the exercise of their duties."
Article 11 emphasises the famous French Enlightenment values of scientific inquiry, and appears to prevent any possible disputes over evolution or sex education. "Lessons are secular...No subject is a priori excluded from scientific and pedagogic questioning. No student can invoke their political or religious convictions, in order to dispute a teacher's right to address a question on the syllabus."
Of course, the charter affirms France's 2004 law, which banned the wearing of all "ostentatious religious symbols," and Article 13 appears to emphasise the point, perhaps as regards activities like sports and athletics.

"Nobody can avail of their religious affiliation in order to refuse to obey rules applicable in our schools."

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