Rabat - Darija, the Moroccan dialect of Arabic, does not need to be taught in schools, according to writer Tahar Ben Jelloun, who made the comments Sunday night on the 2M show “Press Confidences.”
Rabat – Darija, the Moroccan dialect of Arabic, does not need to be taught in schools, according to writer Tahar Ben Jelloun, who made the comments Sunday night on the 2M show “Press Confidences.”
When asked about efforts to introduce Darija curriculum in schools, Jelloun said “there is no need for this” since it is the “language of everyday” and is primarily learned at home.
“I do not see a Moroccan talk to the grocer in classical Arabic, it is used for special and specific needs,” he added.
The Fez-born writer described Arabic as a “prestigious language” that “needs to be preserved.”
Jelloun is best known for his French works and has previously been nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature.
The North African country has debated incorporating Darija in the national education curriculum in the past, but the discussions have not led to further development.
In February 2015, Head of Government Abdelilah Benkirane issued a statement categorically rejecting the notion of using Darija as a medium of instruction in Moroccan preschools.
Benkirane’s ruling Justice and Development Party (PJD) said “campaigns in favor of teaching Darija…are designed to limit both national languages [Arabic and Amazigh] and pave the way to the hegemony of foreign languages.”
Some North African dialects, including Moroccan Darija, have been infused with French words and grammar over the course of the region’s colonial period under France.
Despite the PJD leader’s criticism of the “hegemony” of foreign languages, Moroccan students begin learning French at the preschool level.
In secondary and post-secondary institutions many instructors speak in Darija while discussing sociological, economic and even mathematic concepts, students said.
A new initiative by the government will introduce enhanced English curriculum for students of all ages in Morocco as well.