In a recent international conference, Chinese academics proved their fluency in Arabic, on the contrary of their Moroccan counterparts.
Rabat – A group of Chinese academics criticized the Modern Standard Arabic (Fus’ha) fluency of their Moroccan counterparts during a scientific conference.
Modern Standard Arabic refers to a variety of Arabic that developed in the Arab World in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It is one of Morocco’s official languages and it is taught in Moroccan schools.
“We thank our colleague for his intervention, despite not understanding anything,” said a Chinese moderator in fluent Arabic, following the French-spoken intervention of a Moroccan economist.
The moderator’s comment created laughter among the international attendees.
“I do not speak French, I only speak Chinese, Arabic, and some English. I don’t know anything about French,” continued the Chinese academic, while the audience’s laughter started to fade out.
An online footage, uploaded recently, shows the scene and captures the embarrassment of the Moroccan professor who could not make an intervention in Arabic.
The scene took place during the 5th International Academic Conference between China and Morocco, an event moderated in Arabic. Academics from China and Morocco participated in the conference.
In a second clip, another Chinese moderator asks a Moroccan professor to present his intervention in Arabic, the language of the event. However, the Moroccan academic expresses his inability to do so. He asks a second participant to interpret his speech from French to Arabic.
The videos attracted several mocking comments, criticizing Moroccans for not being fluent in their “native” language.
While Modern Standard Arabic is taught in Moroccan schools and used in administrations, it is not what Moroccans speak in daily life. The mother tongues in Morocco are Darija, an Arabic dialect, and Amazigh, in its different variations.
The academic conference took place on November 23 at the Hassan II University library in Casablanca. It discussed the role of Morocco as a strategic partner for cooperation between China and Africa.
The nonfluency of Moroccans in languages, including Arabic, can be linked to Morocco’s education system.
A recent report from the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) placed Morocco 75th out of 79 countries that participated in an international assessment that evaluates students’ abilities in reading, mathematics, and science.
While Moroccans ranked far below the international average in all three criteria, Chinese students ranked at the top of each one of them.
Another report, published in November 2018 by the World Bank, outlined deficiencies in Morocco’s educational system. The organization noted that the learning method used in Moroccan schools makes students unable to exhibit a basic understanding of day-to-day knowledge application.