France wants to bolster secularism and republican values at schools, the government said Thursday, seeking to prevent vulnerable youths from becoming radicalized.
The plan, which prioritizes training 1,000 additional staff for schools nationwide by July and will cost 250 million euros (289 million dollars) over three years, comes after three Islamist extremists killed 17 people in Paris earlier this month.
“Schools are and will be the firm, discerning and pedagogical front lines against challenges to the Republic – that is their identity and profound mission. The schools and the Republic are inseparable,” Education Minister Najat Vallaud-Belkacem said.
The measures include strengthening French-language instruction, bolstering programmes aimed at vulnerable population groups, mitigating the number of school drop-outs and “reinforcing the transmission of values of the Republic.”
More than 200 incidents were reported at schools across the country in which students disrupted moments of homage to the victims of the terrorist attacks.
Many of the students were reportedly protesting the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, where 12 were murdered, which has published cartoons of the prophet Mohammed.
Prime Minister Manual Valls decried what he characterized as a “social and territorial apartheid” this week, referring to suburbs where unrest and disenfranchisement are rampant.
Speaking after Vallaud-Belkacem’s announcement, Valls said that he would convene an interdepartmental committee in March aimed at fighting marginalization.
The announcement came one day after an address by President Francois Hollande, during which he called for greater citizen participation in the education system.