Home Education Ministry of Education on Alert as Controversy over Darija Continues

Ministry of Education on Alert as Controversy over Darija Continues

Ministry of Education on Alert as Controversy over Darija Continues
Said Amzazi, Moroccan Minister of Education.

Rabat – Minister of Education Said Amzazi, taking El Othmani’s recommendations to heart, has held several meetings to explain the inclusion of Darija in school books.

Amzazi held several meetings with officials within the Ministry of Education on Monday, September 10, according to Le Site Info.

The aim of the meetings was to prepare explanations and answer citizen’ questions about the use of Darija (Moroccan Arabic) in school books.

The debate around the use of Darija in Arabic school books is still raging one week into the start of the new school year.

In the new Arabic primary school textbooks, some Moroccan traditional words were written in Darija. Pictures of school book sections were posted on Facebook, causing uproar among Moroccan society who rejected the use of Darija content.

The inclusion of Darija in textbooks was confused by some Moroccans who spread photos on social media of fake school book pictures. The photos include some popular Moroccan children’s songs in Darija, transliterated into Latin characters, and sections with inappropriate content, such as innuendos and bad words.

El Othmani neutralizes towards Darija

Head of Government Saad Eddine El Othmani first reacted strongly, saying that Darija cannot be used in education “because first, the official languages recognized by the Constitution are Arabic and Tamazight.”

The content of textbooks in Moroccan public primary schools are either in standard Arabic, Tamazight, or French.

“We cannot admit expressions, sentences or paragraphs in Moroccan dialect in textbooks,” El Othmani told Maghreb Arab Press Sunday, September 9.

However, El Othmani’s most recent public statements seem to contradict his position on the use of words and expressions in Darija.

The head of government said Tuesday, September 11, in an interview with Le360 that the first priority should be given to educational reform, which could be interpreted as support for the new books. He stressed that no governmental officials had the intention to go as far as to make Darija “a language of school textbooks.”

“The use of some words and expression in Darija is another debate between specialists to be decided on,” he added.

Darija words could be left in new books

Although El Othmani said previously, “We cannot admit expressions, sentences or paragraphs in Moroccan dialect in textbooks,” he also said the issue “does not affect the essence of textbooks. It’s only about words not expressions, sentences, or paragraphs.”

In contrast with his previous statement, the head of government said, “We have no problem to give up these school books after a potential consultation with concerned actors.”

The official stated that some words in Darija could be used in textbooks. “If there is a need to use some words in Darija, we will use them just like we use the word ‘cinema’ which is not an Arabic word but a French and Latin word,” El Othmani said today.

“We should discuss this issue sedately and in a scientific and objective manner for the benefit of Moroccan education and its quality,” he added.

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