School uniforms yes or no? The rift that now divides French politics

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The school uniform has never been compulsory for all schools in France. Now, in the name of fighting consumerism, religious clothing or simply to erase social differences, some politicians promote their use, while others strongly oppose it.

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The French first lady, Brigitte Macron, a former high school teacher, is decidedly in favor: “Erases the differences, saves time and money, compared to brands,” she claims.

The education minister, for his part, refuses to legislate on the matter for the time being. The right and the far right support it, but the left doesn’t want to know anything about an initiative that is being discussed this Thursday in the National Assembly.

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The uniform “makes it possible not to show social differences”, far-right deputy Laurent Jacobelli (National Group) told RFI at a time when the use of Islamic clothing (veils or long dresses) is fueling controversy in schools.

For the legislator, it is a question of “fighting against a form of attack on secularism today led above all by radical Islamism”, hence this role”.

In the same sense, Senator Bruno Retailleau, of the conservative Republican party, argues that it is “a cause on which we can all agree”.

“Preserve our children, both from communitarianism and consumerism. We will bring this proposal to the Senate very soon,” he explained on Twitter.

From the pro-government side, whose group is currently studying the possibility of drafting a pro-uniform bill opinions are divided. When questioned on Sud Radio, the deputy Sacha Houlié declared himself “profoundly against”.

“It carries no measure of equality, none (and) in terms of secularism, this quite severe and definitive measure will encourage high school and college students to do just the opposite,” he said.

voices from left

The far left doesn’t believe the uniform will change much.

“What INSEE (National Institute of Statistics) shows us is that there is a non-mixing school which is establishing itself (and which) is getting worse and deepening,” refuted LFI deputy Alexis Corbière to France 2 Thursday. “There are 20% of children who attend public school (and) the social positioning index shows that the private sector welcomes the most privileged categories. Wearing the same shirt and the same skirt does not solve the problem,” he said he.

“To reduce educational inequalities it is not necessary to create a uniform, just invest massively in public schools and pay teachers well,” environment deputy Sandrine Rousseau tweeted.


The school uniform has never been compulsory in all public schools in mainland France.

Many kids wore tracksuits to school, mainly to avoid ink stains when using quill and inkwell, recalls the educational historian Claude Lelièvre, in his book “L’école d’aujourd’hui à la lumière de l’histoire”.

It started to disappear in the 1960s with the development of ballpoint pens.

Instead uniforms, or the uniform blouse, were rather worn in public schools or certain selective public schools.

Source: Clarin

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