Secularism charter in French schools “La charte de la laïcité à l’école” in English

At the beginning of this school year, (September), France rolled out this poster, which is to be placed in every school classroom across the country:


For all of my english-speaking friends, I thought I would make a brief attempt to translate it. (Brief because I am currently hanging out in an airport lounge!)

Charter for secularism in schools
The nation entrusts to schools the mission to share with students the values of the Republic.

The Republic is secular
School is secular

1) France is an indivisible, secular, democratic and social republic. It ensures equality before the law, in the entirety of its territories, to all its citizens. It respects all beliefs.

2) The secular Republic is organized with the separation of religions from the State. The State neutral with regard to religious and spiritual convictions. There is no State religion.

3) Secularism guarantees freedom of conscience for all. Everybody is free to believe or not to believe. This allows the freedom of expression of one’s convictions, in respecting the convictions of others and while remaining within the limits public order.

4) Secularism allows the exercise of civil rights, in combining the freedom of every individual with equality and brotherhood for everyone, keeping in mind the public interest.

5) The Republic makes sure that every school establishment upholds each and every one of these principles.

6) Secularism in schools offers to the students the conditions necessary to develop their personalities, the exercise of their own free will and to be a student of what it means to be a citizen. It protects them from all forms of proselytism and pressure which would stop them from making their own choices.

7) Secularism ensures that students have access to a shared and common culture

8) Secularism allows the freedom of expression of students, within the bounds of the schools functioning: such as republican values and pluralism of convictions.

9) Secularism rejects all forms of violence and discrimination, guarantees the equality of girls and boys, which is founded on the respect and the understanding of others.

10) It is the responsibility of all personnel to communicate to students the values and the meaning of secularism, as well as the fundamental principles of the Republic. They are to watch over their application within the school framework. They are also charged with the task of making parents aware of this charter.

11) Personnel are required to maintain a strict neutrality: they must not express their personal convictions (religious or political) while exercising their role.

12) The curriculum is secular. In order to guarantee that the students may have the most objective openness possible to the diversity of the views of the world, as well as an extensive and precise knowledge, and that no subject is outside the realm of scientific and educational questioning. No student can evoke a religious or political conviction in order to contest the teachers right to treat a topic or question.

13) No one can use their belonging to a religion as a reason to refuse conforming to rules of the school or the Republic.

14) In each public school, the rules for the life of certain spaces as defined internally are respectful of secularism. The wearing of signs or clothing conspicuously expressing a religious affiliation is forbidden.

15) By their reflections and activities, students contribute to the living out of secularism in their establishiment.

I have no words. Discuss!

2 thoughts on “Secularism charter in French schools “La charte de la laïcité à l’école” in English

  1. Thank you very much for translating this for your anglophile friends, Lauren!
    There is much here to discuss, to be sure, but I think the foremost question is:
    Do they not recognize that the establishment of any law (such as this poster demonstrates) is itself a moral-religious stance, born out of a particular worldview?

    1. laurenjayne84 25 Mar 2014 — 10:57 pm

      Hey Scott, thanks for your comment! Yes, in some contexts people do realise that this is a new sort of religion. It is even referred to as the”Republican Religion” (not republican meaning the political party, but republican mean the French Republic Religion). This poorly translated article explains it pretty well. The minister for Education would like to see a Spiritual & Moral Revolution, explaining that the French Revolution took back the political power that the Catholic Church had, but let the Church keep the moral and spiritual authority. He thinks its time to finish what the Revolution started.

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