Rabat- Today many people are more interested in their own cultures, history and identity than ever before. This fact makes it mandatory for schools to parallel societal attitudes in order to maintain students’ culture and enhance their pride in the history of their country.
To maintain the importance of culture for students,, some aspects of it are adopted in school through educating students on cross cultural awareness. This allows schools to often meet learners’ interest and needs.
In Morocco, some aspects of culture are also taught. Yet, because Morocco represents a multicultural and bilingual society, the Tamazight movement, mainly in almost the last three decades, started struggling and asking for the incorporation of the Tamazight language in schools as a language rooted in the culture, identity, and history of Morocco. Such a request is supported by the education system because education is especially relevant for the preservation of cultural heritage.
The incorporation of Tamazight was realized, as it is considered an official language in the constitution. But the objective of incorporating it in schools has not yet been met. Some provinces in the kingdom, such as Khnifra, have gone back-wards and greatly hindered the teaching of Tamazight in their schools. However, people continue to struggle and strike again and again for the protection of their language and the cultural authenticity of Morocco.
In this article I’m interested not only in teaching Tamazight as a language, but in using it as medium of instruction in other academic subjects as well. As it is known, Moroccan Amazigh students start learning the Arabic language, which is not their mother tongue, at an early age. Thus, it becomes for them very difficult to follow the explanations and illustrations of teachers.
According to some human rights articles, it’s a violation of students’ rights when you teach them in a language they do not understand. Students in this case will try not only to understand the content of classes such as physics or mathematics, but they must also learn to understand the language of the teacher as well. Thus it’s not practical, not valid, and not reliable to use an incomprehensible medium of instruction when the objective of the lesson is to enhance students’ knowledge of specific academic subjects.
According to ‘Teaching Literature in the Mother Tongue: Its Impact on the Learning Process & Appreciation of One’s Culture’ by Bernardita B. Riñon, the right to learn in one’s own language promotes literacy because it facilitates the learning process and the children are able to understand what the teacher is saying; they are able to think and clearly ask questions. (N.A. 2011).
Therefore in order for students to not lag behind in content areas like mathematics, science, and social studies, a Transitional Bilingual Education theory is adapted by many countries. This theory emphasizes the fact that the fluency in a second language is determined by the fluency first in the native language. Based on this theory, Dual Two-Way or Dual Language Immersion Bilingual Education program are incorporated into class in many countries, For example, Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain, Argentina, Australia, Canada ,China ,and India.
Additionally, in some cities, such as Hong Kong, two languages, English and Cantonese, are used. This has encouraged some researchers to investigate to what extent students, who learn in their native language or in English, understand and achieve proficiency in academic subjects. Therefore, they conducted research on the adoption of the mother tongue in giving instructions in academic subjects. They came up with the fact that teaching in the native language is more effective than teaching students with the second language.
A research project conducted by Lei Xuan emphasized that the schools that adopted Cantonese in teaching allowed students to achieve higher proficiency in academic subjects. On the other hand, in schools that adopted English as a language of instruction, students could not achieve a higher proficiency in academic subjects, except for in English.
Tong Choi Wai ,who is an assistant professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at the Chinese University, said, “As an educator, I support the policy of applying mother-tongue teaching. The learning process will be easier by using Cantonese.”
Furthermore, based on the national charter of education and training, and its major objectives, school should offer and equip society with competent and qualified citizens who will contribute to the constant development of their country in all levels and aspects.
Thus, without native language skills in some academic subjects, society will lose some of its best talent and skillful students who might drop out of school because they do not understand what the teacher says. Therefore, it’s necessary to help students from the lower classes understand and improve their level in the academic subjects.
At the same time, when the native language is adapted, students will be proud of their culture and history, and will have high self-esteem. The mother tongue is the only language that can enhance students’ patriotism and love for their country, but when the language of instruction at school is totally different from the language of home and society, students will feel that their school is strange and has no relationship to their life.
Moreover, educationally speaking, it’s known that teachers should always start from the prior knowledge of students. Teachers should always try to activate their students’ schemata, starting from what they already know; so if the teacher does not know much about their students’ culture and language, he or she will have difficulties explaining or motivating students to participate in the learning process.
In conclusion, it is necessary for the education system to be useful and learner based, rather than policy based. For the development of our country, our languages and cultures should be valued taught to the young generation. We should not think that by adopting only one language we will make people more unified. The contrary is right; we should always respect the citizens’ background, so that they will be proud of their country and work for its development. It will never work when we only consider policy based education. Schooling cannot give us all the education that students need because other institutions are there for the same reason.
Edited By Anna Jacobs
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