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The French government will be implementing a ban on mobile phone use in schools starting September.
Nursery, primary, and middle school students will be banned from using phones within the school property, including playgrounds. Students will also not be allowed to use their phones during break time. However, the devices can be used for emergencies or for educational purposes.
Emmanuel Macron [ee-MAHN–oo-ehl mak-ROHN], president of France, proposed this ban as part of his manifesto in order to address the issue on students’ frequent phone use in class.
Although the ban will be implemented soon, opinions about it are divided.
Philippe Vincent [fee-LEEP vin-SON], the representative of the French head teachers’ union, found the ban impractical. His main concern is the fact that schools might have no place to store all the students’ phones. A French parents’ association also expressed its reluctance about the ban because details on how it will be implemented are not yet clear.
Despite these reservations, Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer [zhahn mi-SHEL bluh n-keh] backed the president’s decision. According to Blanquer, children should spend their break time playing instead of using phones. Likewise, Patricia Greenfield, a professor, believes that having enough face-to-face interaction is integral to children’s social development.
The French government is not the first to implement a phone use ban in schools. Uganda already barred phone use in classrooms in 2013. The country’s head of the Ministry of Education and Sports cited malpractice like cheating, which is done by leaking exam answers through phones, as the primary reason for the ban.