towards Algeria’s multilingualism. In the ﬁnal section, it will beargued that the opposition of the Algerian leadership to linguisticpluralism remains the major obstacle to the process of nation-building.
Educational System in Crisis: Reforms and Reactions
Since the early 2000s, the issue of languages in the educational sys-tem has been the subject of considerable debate in Algeria: shouldschools continue to favour monolingualism in Arabic or shouldthey adopt Arabic–French bilingualism? Arabo-Islamists, who sup-port the policy of arabisation (monolingualism), are opposed to‘‘Modernists’’ (mainly secular and/or francophone members of thepopulation and the elite) who call for the implementation of Ara-bic–French bilingualism. The debate reached its climax in 2002when opponents to bilingual education issued a
against sup-porters of educational reforms (Abdelhai, 2001: 7) and consideredthe defenders of bilingualism as the ‘‘enemies of Islam and theArabic language’’ and the ‘‘supporters of forced Westernisation of Algerians’’*
(Djamel, 2001: 3). Due to be implemented in Septem-ber 2001, the reforms were suspended by the Ministry of the Inte-rior on 3 September 2001.This strong opposition came as a reaction to the recommenda-tions made in mid-March 2001 by the National Commission forthe Reform of the Educational System (CNRSE in French) set upin May 2000 by the newly elected Head of State, President Abdela-ziz Bouteﬂika. In March 2001, the CNRSE recommended thatFrench be reintroduced as the ﬁrst mandatory foreign language inGrade Two (for 6–7 year olds) of the primary cycle instead of starting it in Grade Four (for 8–9 year olds) as had been the casesince the late 1970s. The CNRSE also suggested that scientiﬁc dis-ciplines be taught in French instead of Arabic in secondary schools(Sebti, 2001). The obvious intended outcomes are bilingualism andbiliteracy as ways of improving student achievement. It requires aclear shift from a ‘‘weak’’ bilingual education – French taught as asubject – to a ‘‘strong’’ form of bilingual education which involvesstudents learning content (scientiﬁc disciplines) through Arabic andFrench.
Quotes marked by an asterisk were translated from Arabic or French by the presentauthor.
language-in-education planning in algeria