Eleven Amazigh groups and associations are in favor of schools teaching scientific subjects in French instead of standard Arabic.
Rabat – Eleven Amazigh (Berber) associations and groups have backed the government’s proposed bill to use French as a language of instruction for scientific subjects in schools.
The associations and groups gave a joint statement regarding the draft Law 51.17 for education, arguing that those who stubbornly advocate for the teaching of scientific and technical subjects in Arabic are driven by ideology.
“Their move,” read the join statement, “will have adverse effects on the the quality of education.” The groups stressed that attempting to maintain the teaching of science in Arabic contradicts the essence of science and is only for political point scoring.
The controversy surrounding the language of instruction, which has up until now been standard Arabic, at middle and high schools has created a wide rift between decision makers.
The draft Law 51.17 was set to be voted on in the first meeting of an extraordinary session on Monday, April 1, but it was later put off indefinitely. Members of the ruling Justice and Development Party (PJD) turned against the bill, which had already been approved by the heads of political parties.
PJD deputies especially dispute Article 13 of the draft bill, and do not want scientific subjects to be entirely taught in French.
On the grounds of opening up to other languages and cultures, the groups and associations expressed support for embracing foreign languages at lower levels of education, while endorsing the teaching of literary subjects in Morocco’s two official languages, Arabic and Tamazight (Berber).
The organizations are calling on the Ministry of Education to ground their curricula in what best highlights Morocco and the Moroccan identity, while giving primacy to the two official languages without favoring one over the other.
It especially emphasized free education to ensure equal access to education to all members of society, while protecting the dignity of all teachers.
Former Head of Government Abdelilah Benkirane has publicly condemned the draft law calling it the “Frenchification” of Morocco’s education system, urging the government to abandon French and continue using Arabic instead.
He considers the bill a dishonor to the decades-long Arabization process that began after independence in 1956.