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Class on Wednesdays divide the French

AFP

The French government has added an extra half-day to the school week for primary students, a decision that has divided educators and parents.

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Currently, primary school students in France have Wednesdays off, but from September, students will go to school on Wednesday mornings, bringing the school week to 4.5 days.

However, each school day will be shortened by 45 minutes. The number of school days per year will increase from 144 to 180.

The move thus reversed changes implemented in 2008, when the previous government introduced the four-day school week with longer daily hours, but a shortened school year overall.

The French Education Minister, Vincent Peillon, said the reforms will reduce fatigue and learning difficulties. Up until now, French school students had the longest school days in the European Union.

French students have underperformed in international student rankings compared with other EU countries such as Finland and Germany.

However, Michelle Olivier from the parents’ association SNUipp told RFI the reforms aren’t enough to improve student performance.

“President François Hollande has said that education is priority. That’s great, and there has been action taken. But it’s the ensemble of how the education system functions that needs to be looked at again. It’s not just because we send the children to class on Wednesday mornings that all of a sudden their international test results are going to improve,” she said.

On Tuesday, teachers in Paris went on strike over the reforms, claiming teachers will be forced to work longer hours.

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