Education (French Culture and Language).

Oral Answers to Questions — British Army. – in the House of Commons on 7th May 1940.

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Photo of Sir William Davison Sir William Davison , Kensington South

asked the President of the Board of Education whether his attention has been called to the circular which has just been issued by M. Sarraut, the French Minister of Education, to French universities and schools, suggesting the setting up of a British cultural section in each, and further recommending that attention should be paid to English lessons in French higher schools, and that all schoolchildren should in future attend two lectures a month on the British Empire and its traditions; and whether he contemplates taking similar action with regard to the French language and French culture in this country?

Photo of Mr Herwald Ramsbotham Mr Herwald Ramsbotham , Lancaster

I have received a copy of the circular to which my hon. Friend refers, and I should like to take this opportunity of expressing my appreciation of the steps which the French Minister of Education has taken to promote in the French schools a deeper study of England, its language, tradition and culture. I can assure my hon. Friend that it is my intention to do everything that is possible to promote a fuller and deeper knowledge of French life and thought in our schools, and that appropriate steps to achieve this purpose are already being taken in this country. My hon. Friend will, of course, realise that, as our educational system is less centralised than that of France, our procedure for increasing Anglo-French understanding in our schools must necessarily differ from that of our Allies, but I feel certain that the result will be as far-reaching.

Photo of Sir William Davison Sir William Davison , Kensington South

While thanking my right hon. Friend for his statement, might I ask whether we are to understand that the Board are getting into touch with local authorities so that this rapprochement between the two countries shall be brought into effect at the earliest possible moment?