By Mohamed Oukaai
By Mohamed Oukaai
Morocco World News
Errachidia, Morocco, Dec 3, 2012
As a student of the English department, I have struggled to find books, magazines or newspapers to read in English. This is simply because I cannot find them in Moroccan bookstores or bookshops. By stating this I hope to bring attention to the scarcity of English materials to read in Moroccan context. Since Morocco is a “francophone” country, the dominant foreign language in all the countries’ sectors is French. This justifies why most of mass media in the country use French as primary language.
Still, regardless of the fact that Morocco is a francophone country, the dominance of French language in various Moroccan sectors can no longer be justified. This is unacceptable in an era when the number one language in the world is English. By stating this, I do not have any preference for one language over another, but I hope to explain this from a “pragmatic” point of view.
The number of registered students in the English departments in most Moroccan universities has remarkably risen in the past few years. This shows the great interest of Moroccan students in learning English. Yet, future career prospects cannot meet the expectations of such a huge number of students learning English. In actuality, the number of options offered to such huge number of students is very limited. These students mostly work as teachers in the Ministry of Education or work in the sector of tourism as guides or translators. This means that Morocco has not responded appropriately to what is occurring internationally as far as English is concerned.
Some research states that English foreign speakers outnumber native English speakers and that around 80 percent of scientific research is published in English. If so, Morocco needs to reconsider its policies concerning the use of foreign languages in different sectors, especially in mass media.
The use of English in Moroccan mass media has become a necessity, yet there is still no governmental policy to towards this. For the use of foreign languages in Moroccan mass media, one can have access to newspapers, magazines, news bulletins, talk shows, movies, TV series, and radio shows broadcasted solely in French and rarely in Spanish. On the other hand, it is hard, if not impossible, to gain access to any of the aforementioned mass media items broadcasted in English. In my opinion, given the crucial role of English today in the world and the growing number of Moroccans learning English, it is an aberration not to have the option of the English language in our Moroccan mass media. I try to think of a reason why English is not used at least in Moroccan mass media, but I find no explanation.
In this respect, I would like to highlight the fact that Morocco is now more than ever in need to enhance the use of English in different sectors particularly mass media. I focus on mass media, because Morocco needs to develop its means to communicate with the worldwide audience. Morocco has many issues and problems that need to be tackled and addressed to the world so as to bring as much attention as possible to them.
For instance Morocco’s conflict with Polisario in the Sahara needs more enlightenment inside and outside Morocco, and one of the means to bring awareness to the issue is to broadcast it in English. Morocco has made huge changes in that region- initiating self-autonomy governance as a solution, for example–but the wayit has addressed this issue in mass media is inefficient. I highlighted this example of Moroccan Sahara to clarify the point that the use of foreign languages is still not effectively used in Moroccan policy towards a number of critical issues.
Fortunately, there is still hope since Internet has revolutionized the world enabling people to communicate easily with each other, and to have access to other peoples ‘languages and cultures. Internet has enabled people to make their own decisions and express themselves freely beyond the bureaucracy or any other constraints of the state. In this respect, I would like to refer to an important initiative which is “Morocco World News website.” This website has paved the way mainly for Moroccans to express themselves and tackle different issues in their daily life using English. In Moroccan context, such initiative is interesting as it allows many English speaking Moroccans to express themselves in that language.
In relation to what I have mentioned above, this website has revived the use of English among Moroccan speakers (students, teacher, journalists and scholars…). It has given them a space in which they can express themselves freely and openly. Since the launch of this website, I have noticed a growing number of articles and essays published by Moroccans. A website like MWN represent an instance of what I mean by engaging English in Moroccan mass media, and in other fields. I believe that the huge budget spent on teaching English should be better exploited via enhancing English in different administrative sectors.
I would like to end this article by bringing attention to something I find bizarre which is the fact that no Moroccan TV Channel broadcasts at least one news bulletin in English. This explains that Moroccan mass media is still so closed-minded in its perspective. It is time to rethink the different ways to develop Moroccan mass media. One of the solutions I suggest is enhance the use of English in Moroccan mass media via using it in Moroccan TV channels, radios and newspaper etc. Such a step is likely to broaden Moroccan perspective and make it accessible to the broader international public opinion.