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The French intolerance on smartphones

Posted December. 28, 2017 08:47,   

Updated December. 28, 2017 08:58


The 1968 French Revolution was triggered by a university’s rule to ban male students from entering female dorms. Students at Nanterre University of Paris claimed the “freedom to love,” standing up against the authority and control of the university. The most important value among “liberty, equality and fraternity,” the motto of the French Revolution in 1789, is “liberty” to the French. The French believe that tolerance should be at the foundation for liberty. In France, the speed limit is often tolerated to 150 kilometers per hour in a highway where the limit is 130. The difference is seen as “tolerance.”

France, the nation of tolerance, however, has announced intolerance. The French government is pushing ahead to ban students from using mobile phones on school grounds from September next year. When the policy is adopted, students will be forbidden to use mobile phones on school grounds, including class time, recess and lunch time. French adolescents aged 12-17, of whom nine out of 10 use smart phones, regard the policy as absurd, but the government is adamant.

France is no exception to the worldwide fad of adolescents’ obsession to smartphones. Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer has lamented that students are so occupied with their phones that they no longer play during break time. The obsession of smartphones is a concern to students’ physical health as well as an educational issue. A parent association has objected the gesture, questioning the feasibility of installing boxes equal to the number of students to collect and store mobile phones during school time. However, the education minister stood firm, answering that if French politicians were able to put their phones away during council of ministers meetings, it is possible for any group, including a class, to do the same.

Meanwhile, Korea runs counter to the French policy. Last month, the National Commission for Human Rights issued a recommendation of improvement to a middle school in Gyeonggi Province, which forbade use of students’ use of mobile phones on school grounds. The commission advised that teachers, students and parents should discuss the issue to agree on a guideline befitting the situation of individual schools. The commission also told the Gyeonggi Office of Education to examine schools within its jurisdiction under the same discipline. It is an irony that Korea, known for respecting courtesy and traditional values, is going in a completely different direction from France, a country known to respect individual freedom. It is a question to be answered to determine who is right.