Talk about courting the youth vote. French President François Hollande has proposed banning homework as part of a series of policies designed to reform the French educational system.
"Education is priority," Hollande said in a speech at Paris's Sorbonne University. "An education program is, by definition, a societal program. Work should be done at school, rather than at home."
The justification for this proposed ban? Inequality. According to a statement from an official at the French Embassy, "When it comes to homework, the President said it should be done during school hours rather than at home, in order to establish equal opportunities." Homework favors the wealthy, Hollande argues, because they are more likely to have a good working environment at home, including parents with the time and energy to help them with their work.
Hollande's education proposal is not limited to a homework ban. According to the embassy, Hollande has also pledged to add 60,000 teaching jobs in the next five years. He has also expressed support for extending the school week by establishing a model in which children would attend school for nine half days a week. Schools would be able to decide if this is spread over four, five or even six days, in consultation with local authorities and parents.
French children typically go to school for 36 weeks out of the year. The school day is roughly as long as an American workday, lasting from 8:00 to 4:00 or later. However, in most schools the week is only four days, with Wednesdays off in addition to Saturday and Sunday.
Hollande's proposals are not official yet; they're part of an ongoing national debate about reforming the education system, which is, according to the 2009 Program for International Student Assessment, ranked 21st in reading, 22nd in math and 27th in science among countries in the OECD (Organisation for Economic Development and Co-operation). The United States ranks 17th, 31st, and 23rd in those respective categories.