Amazigh activists have long claimed that their language face marginalization.
Rabat – The House of Representatives unanimously adopted draft law 26.16, which defines the process of adopting Tamazight (Berber) as an official language, its integration into the education system and into Moroccan public life.
The draft law, adopted on Monday, was also approved by the Committee on Education, Culture and Communication at the House of Representatives last Monday, June 3, after several years of consultations and debate.
The new draft law confirms that the Tamazight language is to be written in the Tifinagh alphabet, characters specific to written Tamazight. It also stipulates the importance of the integration of Tamazight into the education system and public life.
Article 1 of the draft law describes the Tamazight language as the dialects spoken across the country, as well as linguistic and lexical works created by institutions. It also confirms that Tamazight should be written and read in “Tifinagh.”
The second article of the draft law mandates that Tamazight be taught throughout Morocco and across all levels of education. Tamazight was integrated in public primary schools in the July 2011 Constitution and must be considered as an official language along with Arabic.
In November 2018, the Ministry of Education reported that nearly 600,000 primary students had studied Tamazight in the 2018-2019 academic year.
In June of last year, Head of Government Saad Eddine El Othmani announced the government’s determination to preserve the use of Tamazight in Moroccan schools, emphasizing that teaching Tamazight in primary schools is mandatory.
He added that 4,200 primary schools in Morocco teach Tamazight, while more than 500,000 students study the language.
The decision to adopt the draft law comes amid a tense debate between the Moroccan government and Amazigh activists, who condemned Morocco’s decision to cancel an amendment seeking to allow the Bank Al Maghrib to issue Amazigh banknotes and coins.
It remains to be seen whether activists will re-open the campaign for Amazigh banknotes now that Tifinagh has become official.
Some Amazigh activists claimed that the decision is a violation of the 2011 constitution.
The activists have also expressed concerns regarding a lack of justice with regard to their language and culture.