What is the best language to use in science classrooms?
Rabat – The Conference of University Presidents (CPU) has said Moroccan schools should not teach science in Arabic, weighing into the intensifying political debate on which language should be used to teach science in Morocco.
While some scholars, teachers, and politicians prefer Arabic as a language of instruction, others believe that French and English should be given preference in teaching science.
On March 8, the CPU issued a statement on the question.
CPU acknowledged the recent increase of debates in Morocco on the language of instruction at schools.
“The debate crystallizes and intensifies on the language of science in primary and secondary education.”
In universities, however, the question of teaching scientific and technical subjects in Arabic does not arise, because they are taught in French. The statement also remarks that Moroccan universities are increasingly seeing initiatives to introduce English as a language of instruction for science.
The CPU, representing all Moroccan universities, warned that students in public schools are experiencing a “real linguistic divide between high school and university.”
French, English must be used in primary, secondary schools
While students in Morocco study science in Arabic from primary school to high school, they study the same subjects in French in universities. Students who attended government schools, therefore, find it difficult to keep up with courses in French at universities.
The CPU finds it unfair for students from public schools and is urging for primary, secondary, and high schools to use foreign languages in teaching science to bridge the divide.
The CPU argued that 30 percent of students with baccalaureate science degrees have to pursue non-science majors because of the language barrier.
While acknowledging the importance of Arabic and Tamazight (Berber) in Morocco, CPU said that “technology, science, and knowledge are produced in foreign languages, especially English and French.”
“It is not possible, in the current situation to have mastery of information, digitization, artificial intelligence, and technologies related to aviations, cars, and energies without being able to use these languages.”
Get young people ready for world’s expectations
The statement emphasized the need to prepare future generations to cope with the rapid development of professions, of which it said “80 percent” will be evolving in the near future.
Decades after independence from France, the French language is still dominant in Morocco. Some Moroccans are angry French is still the dominant foreign language, believing that English should take its place.
Moroccan scholar Abderrahim Elalam told Morocco World News that English is emerging in Morocco.
Elalame noted that students now go to language centers to learn English. The scholar, however, acknowledged that it would be difficult for Morocco to shift completely towards English.
In January, Minister of Education Said Amzazi said that English cannot replace French as a language of instruction for at least another 10 years because of a lack of teachers.
The CPU concluded that it recommends the “teaching of science subjects in French at all levels of education and training, all by setting up the necessary conditions for teaching these subjects also in English.”