LE MONDE, L’EXPRESS, LA CROIX, EUROPE 1 (France)
PARIS - Speaking to a group of 600 educators at the Sorbonne, France’s 700-year-old university, President François Hollande declared last week that he hopes that his government will become known as the “education administration,” Le Monde reported.
One of Hollande’s most talked about reforms was the banning of homework for elementary school children. Although written homework was actually banned in a 1956 decree, reports Europe 1, this regulation is never actually applied.
Homework is a factor of social inequalities, said the government. The subject has been a sore point for working or immigrant parents, who often cannot help their children with their assignments. It is not know yet whether the new proposal will also target oral homework: lessons and poems learned by heart.
Another pivotal change -- that may be less popular than the homework ban with students themselves -- will be an increase from four to four and a half days of school per week, reported L’Express.
French elementary school children currently have Wednesdays off for extra-curricular activities. This has been criticized by experts, who believe this mid-week break is disruptive to what they call “scholastic rhythms.” Under the new proposal, there will be an extra half-day of school, on Wednesday mornings, starting from the 2013 school year.
Education is among the only fields not feeling the pinch of austerity measures. La Croix newspaper called the Education ministry the “teacher’s pet.”
The only idea missing from Hollande’s proposal is the controversial plan to reduce the two-month-long summer school holiday. French children currently go to school for fewer days than any of their counterparts in Europe, because of many holidays during the school year.
School days, however, are very long. Middle and High School usually starts at 8:00 a.m. and ends around 6 p.m.
For those aiming to serve the Islamic Republic of Iran as experts to train the public morality agents, there are now courses to obtain the "proper" training.
Iran will create new "master's and doctorate" programs to train state morality agents checking on people's public conduct and attire, according to several Persian-language news sources.
Mehran Samadi, a senior official of the Headquarters to Enjoin Virtues and Proscribe Vices (Amr-e be ma'ruf va nahy az monkar) said "anyone who wants to enjoin virtues must have the knowledge," the London-based broadcaster Iran International reported, citing reports from Iran.
The morality patrols, in force since the 1979 revolution, tend to focus mostly on young people and women, particularly the public appearance for the latter. Loose headscarves will send women straight to a police station, often in humiliating conditions. Five years ago, the regime announced a new force of some 7,000 additional agents checking on women's hijabs and other standards of dress and behavior.
The traffic police chief recently said women were not allowed to ride motorbikes
New academic discipline
Last week, for example, Tehran police revealed that they had "disciplined" agents who had been filmed forcefully shoving a girl into a van. Such incidents may increase under the new, conservative president, Ibrahim Raisi.
Speaking about the new academic discipline, Samadi said morals go "much further than headscarves and modesty," and those earning graduate degrees would teach agents "what the priorities are."
Iran's Islamic regime, under the guidance of Shia jurists, continuously fine tunes notions of "proper" conduct — and calibrates its own, interventionist authority. More recently the traffic police chief said women were not allowed to ride motorbikes, and "would be stopped," Prague-based Radio Farda reported.
Days before, a cleric in the holy city of Qom in central Iran insisted that people must be vaccinated by a medic of the same sex "as often as possible," and if not, there should be no pictures of mixed-sex vaccinations.
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