French Assemblée votes to put flags in every classroom

The government bill would make it mandatory to fly the French and European flags in all classrooms

The French Assemblée Nationale has voted in favour of the mandatory flying of French and European flags in every educational class, from maternelle (Reception) level up to lycée (high school).

Should it be adopted into law, the bill would also make it mandatory for all students to know the words of the national anthem (La Marseillaise), as part of the government’s project dubbed “confidence at school”.

MPs voted for the amendment proposal, presented by Eric Ciotti MP, which will concern “each of the classrooms across establishments, public and private under contract”.

Minister for National Education, Jean-Michel Blanquer, who is in favour of the move, said: “[The measure] will be applied in a very simple way [with] all costs covered by the ministry.”

Mr Ciotti had initially suggested that classrooms install the French flag only, but later accepted the European flag too, called the move “an important step forward”.

Yet, some left-leaning MPs criticised the vote, and said they had not been able to express their views on the issue enough, as the debate had been left “too late”.

Socialist MP George Pau-Langevin denounced the measure, saying it could be seen as “defiance” towards teachers that are in charge of their classes.

Michel Larive MP (from La France Insoumise party) said that it was “enough” to have flags on the front of educational establishments, which showed “respect for the country without drifting towards nationalism”.

He added: “Schools are not [army] barracks.”

In the wake of the debate, Bruno Studer (La République en Marche party), President for Cultural Affairs and Education, has demanded a second discussion on the amendment.

This is set to happen at the end of the week, after the proposal’s text has been fully examined.

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