French Teachers Protest Longer School Week04:14
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A school teacher holds a banner reading " No to the 4.5 days school week" as they demonstrate against changes to their pupil's school week, in Lille, northern France, Thursday, Nov. 14, 2013. (Michel Spingler/AP)
A school teacher holds a banner reading " No to the 4.5 days school week" as they demonstrate against changes to their pupil's school week, in Lille, northern France, Thursday, Nov. 14, 2013. (Michel Spingler/AP)

Over the past week, there have been teacher strikes and street demonstrations across France to protest new education reforms, which require all public elementary school students — for the first time in nearly a century — to go to school five consecutive days a week.

In recent years, younger children have attended school four days a week, but the school days were longer. Originally, the schedule was a concession to the Catholic Church, which convinced the government that children should have a free day midweek to study the catechism.

In today's secular France, the day was used more for sports practice, tutoring and music lessons. For some working parents, it was also a day that forced them to scramble for alternative childcare.

Here & Now's Jeremy Hobson discusses the reforms with Francoise Repussard, a retired French schoolteacher who taught for more than 40 years.

Guest

  • Francoise Repussard, retired French schoolteacher who taught for more than 40 years.

This segment aired on November 19, 2013.

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