PARIS (Reuters) – French far-right candidate Eric Zemmour on Monday attacked anti-racist and anti-homophobia groups in schools, saying they were brainwashing pupils, as he urged a return to a more conservative education system.
Zemmour is competing with the more established far-right candidate Marine Le Pen and conservative Valerie Pecresse to challenge center-right President Emmanuel Macron in April’s presidential election. He currently polls fourth.
“Over the past 40 years, our children have been indoctrinated,” Zemmour, who has been convicted for inciting racial hatred, told reporters. “Schools cannot be the place where LGBT and anti-racism ideologies brainwash our children.”
The career journalist and political commentator, who emerged on the political stage over the summer, has pegged his campaign on nostalgia of an idealised past, which was highlighted as he outlined his education plan.
Children, he said, would need to wear a smock in primary schools, something that was quite common decades ago. And he would re-establish a “certificat d’etudes” diploma at the end of primary school, a requirement largely scrapped more than 50 years ago as children increasingly made it to high school.
Foreign language classes would be dropped from primary schools so children can focus on French and maths, and the study of Greek and Latin in high school would be promoted.
School benefits would be suspended for parents of unruly children.
Zemmour, 63, is socially conservative, against gay marriage, and has said his presidential bid was aimed at “saving France” from decadence.