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LES ECHOS

French School Tells Foreign Children They’re Not Welcome

A school outside of Paris has denied enrollment to more than 20 foreign-born students. Amnesty International and other rights groups call it a case of cruel xenophobia. Officials from the town say it’s just a budget problem.

A road sign near a school in France (elPadawan)
A road sign near a school in France (elPadawan)


*NEWSBITES

PARIS - Denying a basic education in the country that invented mandatory schooling? Welcome to modern France! In Rubelles, a small town of 1,900 inhabitants near Paris, more than 20 foreign-born children aged three to 11 have been refused enrollment. Critics call it a case of blatant discrimination.

Rights groups, including Amnesty International, the French Human Rights League and Education without Borders, are up in arms over the affair. The children in question hail from countries such as Chechnya and the Republic of Ingushetia, of the former Soviet Union; Sri-Lanka; and Gabon.

As asylum seekers, these children have already had a difficult path. They dream about being in school but instead must spend their days in one of the town's low-cost hotels. Their parents were denied space in the local homeless shelter, which is too overcrowded to accommodate them.

According to Nicole Fautrel of the French Human Rights League, "these asylum-seeker families did all that was required to send their children to school, but the town council refused to give them the enrollment certificate."

The city's deputy mayor, Michel Dreano, describes the situation as a budget problem. "Also, we can't receive so many non-French speaking children," he said, hinting at the absence of qualified staff to handle the situation.

Nonsense, says Patricia Galeazzi from the local education authority. "There are places left in the Rubelles school and two specialized teachers are here to welcome non-French speaking children." According to one of the school's teachers, it's all the more absurd since "children of that age learn new languages very easily."

In the late 19th Century, France is credited with establishing the first system of free and mandatory public education.

Read the full article in French by Mattea Battaglia

Photo - elPadawan

*Newsbites are digest items, not direct translations

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