SOCIALIST senators have withdrawn a proposed law making schooling obligatory from three instead of six.
The move came after a battle between the right-wing UMP-led government and the Socialist majority in the Senate which proposed the law and changes to the text which the left said had “completely distorted it”.
Education Minister Luc Chatel tried to block discussion of the text, invoking a constitutional rule that states that a proposed law is unacceptable if it causes an extra financial burden to the state.
The application of the rule led to the text being shorn of its central element – leaving only peripheral matters like new guidelines on the training of infant school teachers and on the schooling of two-year-olds (in cases where they are enrolled, on their parents’ choice, in an infants’ school).
The left accused Mr Chatel of an attack on democracy; however, he said the measure would have involved an extra 700,000 or more children being enrolled in school, at a cost of an extra €1.3 billion.
The proposal was made because the Socialists said studies show children do better in school and are less likely to drop out the earlier they start and that in any case many children already start at three, so the measure would just standardise this.