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LE MONDE, L’EXPRESS, LA CROIX, EUROPE 1 (France)

Worldcrunch

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.

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Geopolitics

Patronage Or Politics? What's Driving Qatar And Egypt Grand Rapprochement

For Cairo, Qatar had been part of an “axis of evil,” with anger directed at Al Jazeera, the main Qatari outlet, and others critical of Egypt after the Muslim Brotherhood ouster. But the vitriol is now gone, with the first ever visit by Egyptian President al-Sisi to Doha.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi met with the Emir of Qatar in June 2022 in Cairo

Beesan Kassab, Daniel O'Connell, Ehsan Salah, Hazem Tharwat and Najih Dawoud

For the first time since coming to power in 2014, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi traveled to Doha last month on an official visit, a capstone in a steadily building rapprochement between the two countries in the last year.

Not long ago, however, the photo-op capturing the two heads of state smiling at one another in Doha would have seemed impossible. In the wake of the Armed Forces’ ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood government in 2013, Qatar and Egypt traded barbs.

In the lexicon of the intelligence-controlled Egyptian press landscape, Qatar had been part of an “axis of evil” working to undermine Egypt’s stability. Al Jazeera, the main Qatari outlet, was banned from Egypt, but, from its social media accounts and television broadcast, it regularly published salacious and insulting details about the Egyptian administration.

But all of that vitriol is now gone.

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