A day after hundreds of university students expressed concern about the deterioration of their quality of life and mental health due to restrictions, the French government launched a series of announcements, including support for a return to classes once per week from the second semester of the year. However, President Emmanuel Macron warned that “there will be no return to normalcy for that period.”
For just over two months, university students were deprived of face-to-face classes, unlike students in secondary or elementary schools. The demonstration, registered in various cities in France, revealed the feeling of injustice experienced by university students.
Emmanuel Macron, who visited the headquarters of the University of Paris-Saclay on January 21, showed his support for university students to be able to return to classrooms in person once a week starting next semester.
“Students who wish to can take their courses at the university again once a week,” Macron wrote on his personal Twitter account.
The students who are souvenir for the future of their courses at the university are for the semaine.
– Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) January 21, 2021
“A student should have the same rights as a worker, who in case of need, can go to class at least one day a week as long as the 20 percent capacity of the classroom is not exceeded,” said the head of state.
Macron’s announcement comes a week after the country’s Prime Minister Jean Castex reported that first-year university students could resume face-to-face tutoring in media groups starting on January 25, a move that could be extended to ” students of other levels if the health situation allows it “.
Meals for one euro as part of financial aid
The restrictions imposed to control infections in the country have generated economic problems in various sectors and university students are not immune to this.
In this sense, Macron announced that at the end of this month students will have the right to two meals in university restaurants for the value of 1 euro.
Macron, during the meeting with the students, pointed out that due to the pandemic many young people have lost their part-time jobs and lack the means to support themselves.
Psychological care, another of the Executive’s proposals
During the march, the students expressed concern about the state of mental health of young people during the pandemic.
According to the Reuters news agency, there have been cases of suicides, or attempts, in universities in France and in other parts of the world due to the confinement.
“We are asking for real help, a reopening of faculties in small groups with a strict health protocol, psychologists and psychiatrists to monitor students. Currently, there is only one psychiatrist for every 30,000 students in France, that is very little while the demand continues. increasing (…) We feel abandoned, ”said Alexandra Mouton, a political science student.
The French Government has shown concern about the “feeling of isolation” of the students and in this sense announced a reinforcement of psychologists and social workers, plus a psychological check-up that consists of financing consultations with a city psychologist for students in difficulties.
“They have to take care of each other,” Macron said, acknowledging that many students were deprived of opportunities to make friends and establish social relationships.
Government action may not be enough
Despite the government effort, the measures were insufficient for the directors of the main student groups. “We have the impression that the government is not measuring the situation,” said Mélanie Luce, president of the National Union of Students of France (UNEF for its acronym in French)
This organization has designed an emergency plan to address the situation valued at 1,500 million euros. Additionally, it asks for an immediate increase in scholarships and aid for housing.
Avec les facs fermées et tou • te • s les étudiant • e • s who live pas proche des campus, sans compter what all points of restoration CROUS are not pas ouverts, cette measure ne va pas toucher l’ensemble des étudiant • is. #etudiantsfantomes
– UNEF (@UNEF) January 21, 2021
On the other hand, through a tweet they pointed out that the average food for 1 euro could not benefit students because many do not live near the university campus and with the faculties closed, more than 50% of university restaurants are not in functioning.
With EFE, Reuters and AFP