The Law Prohibiting Electronics In School

December 4, 2018

It is a law that changes only one sentence in the education code but could profoundly affect the daily lives of school children and high school students at the start of the 2019 school year.

On Thursday, June 7, 2018, The National Assembly adopted a bill that prohibits the use of laptops in schools and colleges. The new article 511-5 stipulates that the smartphone becomes non-grata "except for the places where, under the conditions it specifies, the internal regulations expressly authorize it". 

This reform aims to translate Emmanuel Macron's campaign promise into action. Shortly after its adoption, the Minister of Education Jean-Michel Blanquer welcomed "a law of the 21st century" that sends "a signal to the French on this issue of society", providing for an "effective ban" on electronics.

This new prohibition aims to fight against the "bad uses" of electronics, such as cyber-harassment, pornographic site visits, and addiction to screens.

But the opponents have denounced a law would serve no purpose. It would be a "tartufferie"/hypocritical, assured Rep. Patrick Hetzel, former director of higher education with Valérie Pécresse, while the Communists have judged the law "absurd".

Their main complaint: the ban already existed. In fact, the old version of Article 511-5 allowed school directors to ban electronics from the school grounds.

Advocates of the reform argue that there is one important difference: the ban, which was previously the exception to the rule, becomes the norm. "Some people try to tell us that this law is useless," replied Jean-Michel Blanquer, but "go to a beach where it is forbidden to bathe except when it is allowed, or a beach where it is allowed to bathe except when it is forbidden, you will find that you will not bathe with the same frequency, "he said.

But this reform does not address the problems with the sanction. Indeed, high school principals have become accustomed to confiscating mobile phones; however, this sanction "is illegal because it is not part of the measures provided for in the code of education", assures the Parisian, Valerie Piau, lawyer and specialist in the law of education. Such a sanction may, in fact, be considered as an infringement of the right of ownership.

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