School Education in France

The Secularism Charter - La Charte de la laïcité

Sharing the Republic's values with children is one of the primary missions entrusted to Schools by the state.The School Secularism Charter has been developed for staff, pupils and the broader school community. It sets out the meaning and implications of the secularism principle, how it fits into liberty, equality and fraternity within the French Republic and in a school setting.

This charter serves as a reminder that the teaching of the Republic's values is a role entrusted to Schools by the state. It makes clear and easily understood by all how important secularism is for a society based on common values and the freedom of expression and thought. It presents the secularism of a school's teaching staff, teaching methods and curriculum as a guarantee for all students to be able to access any intellectual and cultural resources necessary for them to forge and fulfil their own unique, individual personalities.

The French Republic is secular

  • France is an indivisible, secular, democratic and social Republic. It ensures the equality of all of its citizens before the law. It is respectful of all beliefs.
  • Within the secular Republic, religions are separate from the State. The State is neutral in terms of religious or spiritual convictions. There is no State religion.
  • Secularism safeguards freedom of conscience for all. Everyone has the freedom to believe or not to believe. Secularism allows individuals to express their convictions freely, in such a way that is respectful of others and within the confines of public order.
  • Secularism promotes a form of citizenship which balances individual freedom with equality and freedom for all in the public interest.
  • The Republic ensures each of these principles is adhered to in schools.

Schools are secular

  • Secularism in schools provides the conditions for pupils to shape their personality, exercise their free will and learn about citizenship. It protects them against any proselytism or pressures which could prevent them from making their own choices.
  • Secularism gives pupils access to a common and shared culture.
  • Secularism gives pupils the opportunity to express themselves freely within the framework of the smooth running of their school, respect for the values of the Republic and the pluralism of beliefs.
  • Secularism means rejecting all violence and discrimination. It safeguards gender equality and is based on a culture of respect for others and mutual understanding.
  • It is the responsibility of all staff to share with pupils the meaning and the value of secularism , as well as the other fundamental principles of the Republic. They enforce these principles within the school setting. It is their responsibility to make parents aware of this charter.
  • Staff have a strict duty of neutrality: In performing their duties, they must not show their political or religious convictions.
  • Lessons are secular. In order to ensure pupils are given the most objective perspective possible in terms of different ways of seeing the world and the range and accuracy of knowledge, no subject is excluded from scientific and pedagogical discussion. No pupil may dispute a teacher's right to teach a topic on the syllabus on the basis of a religious or political conviction.
  • No one can use their religious conviction as a justification for refusing to observe the rules applicable in schools of the French Republic.
  • In state schools, the rules of conduct in various areas, set out in the rules and regulations, are respectful of secularism. It is prohibited for pupils to wear signs or clothes which conspicuously show their religious affiliation.
  • In their thinking and activities, pupils help to breathe life into secularism within their school.
Mis à jour le 24 décembre 2013
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