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The Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, 252 Bloor Street West, Toronto, Canada M5S 1V6 Morocco, like other countries, faces large national problems. The national language question is one of the most important because it is central to national unity. Recently, the Moroccan government has devoted considerable effort to crafting a careful and elaborate multi-sector language policy, with particular significance for the educational system, which aims at promoting Arabic as the language of literacy and wider communication. The paper examines the background to the new policy and its implications.
The Moroccan Linguistic Situation
Located at the crossroads of Greater Maghreb (Algeria, Libya and Tunisia), Europe, and the rest of the African continent, Morocco has, throughout its history, been the target of repeated invasions and conquests by Greeks, Phonecians, Arabs, and more recently Western Europeans. All these civilisations have deeply influenced Morocco and contributed to its linguistic and cultural diversity to produce what is today a complex, multilingual profile. Although little is known about the language demography prior to the coming of Islam in the seventh century, at least three languages were in use. First, Berber, the language native to the majority of the population, was used in the interior. Second, Latin was the language of administration, and later became restricted to liturgical usage until it was replaced by Arabic (Hammoud, 1982: 19). Third, a hybrid combination of Greek, Latin and Semitic elements was evolved in Carthage (Khalafallah, 1960: 568). Today, two native languages, Berber and Arabic, and an international language of wider communication, French, are predominant in Morocco.
The native languages
Tamazight (Berber) Berber was the indigenous language spoken by the inhabitants of Morocco before the Arab invasion. It belongs to the Hamito-Semitic group of languages (Brunot, 1950). In Morocco, as well as in other countries of North Africa, the people who speak Berber call themselves Imazighen, in the singular Amazigh, which means ‘a free man’. The feminine complement Tamazight denotes the language. Although the word Tamazight is usually used to designate a single language, in fact, the word covers a number of widely different dialects which are not entirely mutually comprehensible. In Morocco, Tamazight is used in reference to a particular variety of Berber, of which there are three dialects: Tarifit spoken in the Rif mountains of Northern Morocco; Tashlehait spoken in the South
0790-8318/98/02 0195-9 $10.00/0 LANGUAGE, CULTURE AND CURRICULUM ©1998 R. Redouane Vol. 11, No. 2, 1998
Of these languages. other subjects such as arithmetic and language arts have been added to the curriculum as a result of the ‘1968 reform of Koranic schools. such as English and German are more commonly taught as foreign languages in the public and private schools. is the official language. Other languages. Classical Arabic. It is the language of everyday conversation and folkloric literature which is transmitted orally. with the coexistence of Tamazight and the two varieties of Arabic. The foreign languages Of the several foreign languages that have had an influence in Morocco. French. 1982: 34).196 Language. Thus. and Tamazight spoken in the Middle Atlas and the eastern half of the high Atlas mountains (Bentahila. It is learned only in a formal educational context. endorsed by King Hassan II. before the French colonisation. on the other hand. Two varieties of Arabic are used. It is a three tier system operating in Classical Arabic. Culture and Curriculum West of Morocco especially in the Souss Valley. Classical Arabic was the language of the traditional education system. 1982: 28). is acquired by most Moroccans as their mother tongue. which was introduced in 1912 through colonisation. ‘it is now only marginally used by the local population’ (Hammoud. Moroccan Arabic. that is two varieties of the same language existing side by side. Standard Arabic. to alleviate overcrowding in regular public primary schools’ (Hammoud. Arabic schools The traditional system was well established before the French Protectorate. having a written form. each enjoying a particular status and fulfilling different sociolinguistic functions. Morocco’s language situation was already complex. Arabic Arabic was introduced to Morocco in the seventh century. 1959). More recently. Even though Spanish once played an important role in Northern Morocco throughout the Spanish occupation. 1983: 1). as in other Arab countries — Classical Arabic or its modern version. The second tier comprises the Koranic secondary schools known as madrasa or . comprising the Koranic primary schools. and still exists today in a slightly different form. and Moroccan Arabic. known as masjid or jama. where students are taught to read and write and memorise the Koran at a young age. is by far the most dominant. The Pre-independence Educational Policy During the French occupation. This too will be later considered with reference to the different educational systems that existed before independence. They were in direct opposition to each other and continue as a contemporary source of conflict between the Arabo-Islamic tradition (mediated through Arabic literacy) and Western culture (mediated through French monolingualism or Arabic-French bilingualism). the traditional and the modern educational systems coexisted. The two varieties of Arabic can be said to stand in a diglossic relationship (Ferguson.
Primary education is a five-year cycle. The third tier is the Islamic university. and mathematics. which they then imposed in the cities and certain selected rural areas as ‘the only language of civilisation and advancement’ (Bourhis. The European system is comprised of the three cycles of primary. they build schools (p. 1982: 14). and Koranic interpretation (Hammoud. Only Moroccan children from the elite upper class were admitted to these schools. and Free schools). and higher education. often located in the city. In all these three types of school. The curriculum includes a variety of subjects such as philology. Madrassa. Secondary education spans seven years.Arabisation in the Moroccan Educational System 197 zaouia. and Classical Arabic as a ‘foreign language’. The colonisers strategy was best summed up by Gordon (1962) who noted that: When the Portuguese colonized. Both the primary schools and universities still exist today in their original form. The first two types are part of the public sector and the last one remains private. This modern system contained three kinds of school: (European schools. the modern system comprises several private ‘free schools’. philosophy. secondary. which means ‘school’. Islamic law. they built trading stations. with curricula identical to those used in France. 1982: 34). The ‘écoles des fils de notables’ were primary schools in urban areas. biology. French schools The modern system of education introduced alongside the traditional Moroccan system was based on the one that existed in France. The ‘écoles rurales’ were for country children. 216) — spreading their language and values by educating Moroccans to believe in the universality and superiority of the French culture and language. According to Ezzaki and Wagner (1992). The second type of school was the Franco-Islamic schools. the French colonisers ‘pursued a policy based on what they perceived to be their mission civilisatrice’ (p. The European schools were reserved mainly for children of the colonising French community. which typically offers a more versatile education. . The curriculum in these institutions includes Arabic language and literature courses. such as the University of Karaouine. and introductory courses in theology. The elite were encouraged to reject everything that belonged to their own culture and to substitute French mores. reserved for a limited number of upper class children. of which there were several types based on the social class of the students’ parents. 7). In addition to these two types of public school. but secondary schools have now been integrated into a modern system. French was instituted as the language of instruction. when the French colonize. Franco-Islamic schools. some arithmetic. when the British colonized. Zaouia is its rural equivalent. Only a limited number of students from both types of schools were allowed to go on to secondary school. subdivided into two cycles (first and second). many of which are now under government control. they built churches.
and thereby erode the cultural and linguistic solidarity that existed between Arabs and Berbers. as quoted by Zartman 1964. Thus. 1982: 30–31). Culture and Curriculum Moreover. and to contrast sharply with the traditional Moroccan system of education with which it co-existed. under the colonial administration (Hammoud. they set up private Islamic schools in the major cities called mada:ris al hurra or ‘free schools’ which offered a modern curriculum using Arabic as the medium of instruction. (Hammoud. A basic objective has been to restore Morocco’s pre-colonial culture through a development of the national. Arabic in its language and Muslim in its spirit’ (King’s speech from the throne. Discontented with the archaic type of education dispensed in the age-old Koranic institutions. national language in Morocco. the colonial administration. Current Language Planning in Morocco: Arabisation Since Morocco obtained its Independence in 1956. 155–56). the cadres trained in these free schools were to assume leadership positions and to make the prospects of Arabisation concrete and politically legitimate (Damis. 1970). and intensify the separation between the two ethnic groups. designate commissions to improve education and assess ways to introduce Arabic language and culture and Islamic studies into the mainstream curriculum. This was done through the Dahir Berbere (Berber Decree) of 1930 which created yet another type of school. designated to multiply the types of schools. several individual Moroccan nationalists defied the school system and the language allocation set up by the Protectorate.198 Language. 1958. The insistence of the ‘free schools’ on using Classical Arabic as the medium of instruction in mathematics and the sciences reflected a strong desire to see it ultimately in use as a fully-fledged official. After Independence. the French educational policy weakened the status of Classical Arabic (the perceived symbol of national and cultural identity) by promoting the Berber dialects and the Arabic vernaculars through formal teaching. where Arabic was excluded and only French and Berber were taught. (pp. the ‘free schools’ did more than simply maintain the Arabic language by promoting it as a language of modern knowledge. In the 1940s. the French system of education in Morocco before Independence was as Bentahila (1983) stated: ¼ a vehicle for the policy of divide-and-rule. and by closing Arabic (Koranic) schools in Berber-speaking regions. it has been a national priority to decrease the amount of French used in Morocco and to promote Arabic as a component of national identity. By providing a viable alternative to the French educational system. 9–10) ‘Free schools’ In the early 1920s. and as the language of literacy and wider communication. to encourage the separation of Arabs and Berbers. 1982: 31). under pressure from the nationalists. in reaction to this divide-and-rule policy. culturally unique educational system — one that provides ‘an education that is Moroccan in its thinking. The ‘free schools’ also provided the Moroccan nationalist movement with an important crucible for dissemination and growth. The aim was to prepare a new generation of Berbers integrated into the French Christian culture instead of the Arabic Islamic one. .
the process of Arabisation has still not been fully completed.Arabisation in the Moroccan Educational System 199 Arabisation In the early years following Independence. Problems But Arabisation was halted in the mid-sixties. French still plays a big part in the socioeconomic life of Morocco. There are important areas of the education system. when the conservative Istiqlal Party. According to Hammoud (1982): the convenient long-term reliance on French as an advanced language of wider communication and a medium facilitating access to the modern world of science and technology has made Arabisation harder and harder to achieve. The Party’s position on language policy preferred a return to old ideals and the reinstating of a national Arab-Islamic identity in Morocco. For this reason. By the end of 1990–1991. But. Today. resulting from total Arabisation. as teachers and funds were available. gained power and was faced with the task of national reconstruction’ (Hammoud. 1988: 10). where French continues as an important medium of instruction. For example. and is now taught as a foreign language. 1982: 31). 228) . Alongside the state schools. The Arabisation process intensified ‘in the wake of political independence in 1956. (p. During the second year of Independence. which played a major role in winning independence. which have now adapted their programmes to correspond to those of the state schools. Arabic has been introduced into the curricula. because officials apprehend with fear that linguistic isolation. Arabisation was completed for all primary and secondary levels in the state schools. The other private European schools which have ben preserved are now organised by the Mission Universitaire Culturelle Française. a consensus supported Arabisation as one of the principal goals of educational policy. complete Arabisation of the first year of primary education was accomplished. In these European schools. While widespread support for this principle was politically inevitable. however. These include the original schools created by the Nationalists during the Protectorate. particularly in the domain of science and at the more advanced levels. The pace and scope of Arabisation has depended largely on which of these groups has had more power in the government at a given time. would have a negative consequence on the country’s socioeconomic growth (Ennaji. there are private schools. and put on a back burner until the 1970s. during which students were given 15 hours of Arabic instruction and 15 hours of French per week (progressing in later years to 20 hours a week of Arabic and only 10 of French) and where elementary natural science and arithmetic were taught through the medium of Arabic. its implementation has proven an arduous process. A bilingual policy was adopted for the remaining four years. the history of Arabising the school curriculum has been marked by ambivalence and discontinuity. a politically charged and sustained debate developed between the proponents of a modern and Westernised trend who favour balanced bilingual education and the supporters of the Arabo-Islamic culture who advocate radical Arabisation. It was at first implemented sporadically.
These people are inspired mainly by political and ideological motives. Little effort seems to have been made to carry out any objective assessments of the implications of change. non-political Moroccans for their views on Arabisation. but. there are members of the elite. for practical purposes. Many claimed that there are other factors which have been considered a hindrance to successful Arabisation. a source of conflict and confusion. Hammoud (1982) found that: one of the setbacks Arabisation has suffered is a remarkable lack of consistency and continuity in its execution. want French to remain in use. mostly bilingual Moroccans. Culture and Curriculum Laroui.200 Language. etc. These people are in favour of bilingual education in two languages (French and Arabic). 229) The fact that policies tend to come direct from the ministry. many of them directly involved in decisions to promote Arabisation. 1983). and that the country can only re-establish its authentic identity by operating solely in Arabic. Attitudes to Arabisation Both Bentahila (1983. adds that no significant changes would happen. Bentahila. It has been at the mercy of changing ministers and coalitions until pronouncements were made about it by the king. Hammoud (1982). a Moroccan historian (1973). individuals do not always maintain a consistent attitude towards Arabisation. But complete dependence on French is not the only factor that has made Arabisation harder to achieve. sociology. who nevertheless send their own children to French schools. To illustrate this point. Some Moroccans hold a favourable attitude toward Arabisation. and plans often seem motivated by political considerations rather than concern for educational values. and political foundations made French language education inappropriate for the real life of the country (Laroui. and Ennaji (1988) have argued that inconsistencies in policy. (p. Within these two groups of Moroccans. and that there is an obligation for them to uphold the value of Arabic. Some of these will now be examined Major Factors Delaying the Implementation of Arabisation Laroui (1973). or professional educators and specialists in areas such as education. 1987) and Ennaji (1988) argued that the problems Arabisation has been encountering are also attributable to contradictory attitudes held among policy makers and ordinary Moroccans. Others. They feel strongly that the use of French in Morocco is a scar left by colonisation. 1973). until the social. economic. 1982. as well as lack of coordination among the offices and public administrations have been the biggest problems for efficient language planning in education. while preaching Arabisation as best for the masses. While such people may publicly . feeling that using Arabic is somehow the right thing to do. without reference to any independent sources of expertise is also considered to be another factor (Hammoud. El-Biad (1985). Bentahila (1983). who have a working knowledge of the system . Also little effort seems to have been made to consult ordinary. may value the principles underlying Arabisation. inadequacy in planning by the ministry of education.
Two main reasons offered are: first. and second. it allows Arabs from different countries to communicate and understand each other. and the extent to which it is different from the Moroccan dialect that children are exposed to and learn before they go to school must not be under-estimated. dealt extensively with the subject and asked for ‘a methodical Arabization with prior linguistic simplification and elaboration’. and the fact that it is the language in which the cultural heritage of Moroccans is maintained. and that this form can most readily substitute for French. the status of Standard Arabic as the medium for religious matters. He investigated problems of corpus planning and examined foreign lexical borrowings into Modern Standard Arabic (Saad. the Modernists who are less involved with Arabisation because their main concern is to secure an efficient education which would make Moroccans disposed to a modern world. 1994: 50). According to him ‘Classical arabic is backwards compared to French and that its lexicon is poor and sometimes inaccurate’ (quoted by Ennaji. Fourth the Bureaucrats who acknowledge the importance of Arabisation but are also aware of the problems it involves. in some respects. So. Third the Nationalists whose attitudes towards Arabisation are connected with ideas of defending their country and who consider Arabisation as a political and post-colonial problem rather than a cultural and economic one. Standard Arabic is judged fundamental to the cultural unity of the Arabs because. 1983: 129). Gains notwithstanding. it must be taught through formal education. teachers still find it necessary to resort to vernaculars in teaching and explaining Standard Arabic to students. with the same rigour as French or any foreign language (Bentahila. many have considered a further source of problems. the written language which is learnt in school. this being the nature of Arabic itself: the coexistence of two divergent varieties: Standard Arabic. Bentahila (1983) came up with four groups who have contradictory attitudes towards Arabisation: First the Traditionalists whose aim is to maintain the Arabic language and to protect the cultural heritage of Morocco. former director of the Institute for Arabisation in Rabat. For them. Of equal importance is the impoverishment of Arabic. Many students of this problem feel that Standard Arabic should be used as the vehicle for Arabisation. But nevertheless. albeit with a net gain in terms of Arabic culture. Lakhdar-Ghazal (1976). replacing French totally by Arabic is not a feasible and practical proposal (Bentahila. Linguistic factors Apart from these practical factors. unlike the dialects. Second. Standard Arabic is not the students’ native language. replacing French with Standard Arabic simply substitutes one non-native language for another.Arabisation in the Moroccan Educational System 201 express support for the teaching of traditional culture in schools. and the unwritten colloquial variety which is the mother tongue. they are at the same time reluctant to abandon the advantages of knowledge of French language and culture for their own children. 1988: 12). . The Arabisation process may heighten the problems which are posed by the coexistence of these two varieties and the need to determine which should be used for what purpose. 1983: 123–4).
it . it would seem reasonable to make sure that enough teachers at the higher levels are given timely preparation. Most Arabic textbooks that have been used to teach Arabic are mainly based on written materials. Providing competent teachers in Arabic and suitably trained ones who could work through the medium of Arabic would help achieve an effective Arabisation. and alleviates some of the problems facing the students in learning Standard Arabic. We believe an alternative approach to the teaching of Arabic which is based on the integration of the dialect in the classroom context would help smooth the transition from a bilingual education to a complete arabised one. Teaching Arabic should introduce textbooks that deal with everyday life situations. and whose advancement now necessitates mastery of a second language! Upgrading methodology for teaching Standard Arabic in the schools would be another worthwhile step for successful implementation of the Arabisation policy. they do not reflect the modern world (Ibaaquil. This has made teaching Arabic a difficult task for teachers and a boring subject for students. rather than daily life situation. The content is grammatically-based. Many argue (Salmi. This latter must begin with the preparation of competent teaching staff. and the achievement of successful Arabisation. serious Arabisation should be gradual and should be preceded by a renovation of classical Arabic’ (Ennaji. they should use communicative and integrated drills and activities to make Arabic more attractive and lively. Teachers should be supplemented with interesting and authentic materials. we should renovate Arabic and develop an adequate terminology compatible to the modern world. Most texts tend to deal with the distant past. Attitudes to the language are also to blame. 1978). but it is formally taught in school. People feel that Arabic should remain unaltered and kept safe from any foreign interference. upon attaining a more advanced level in their education. Lakhdar-Ghazal (1976) claims that Classical Arabic is under-developed as a means of instruction and as an instrument of communication with the external world. Zizi. Moreover. A significant merit of this approach is that it takes advantage of the fact that Colloquial Arabic and Standard Arabic are varieties of the same language which share a number of linguistic features. more attention should be paid to the way Arabic is presented to the students. 1984) that word formation processes of Arabic are not the only source of the problems in developing an appropriate terminology. Teachers would alternate between the dialect and the Standard in instructing and explaining the language in order to facilitate students’ understanding. do not find qualified teachers to teach them in the language in which they have up to now continued their studies. Last but not least. since it is not their first acquired language. Moreover. Culture and Curriculum Possible solutions In the remaining pages of this paper I will suggest some steps towards the resolution of these issues with respect to the nature of Arabic.202 Language. not contextualised. Additionally. 1987. 1988: 12). and teachers use excessive translation and pattern practice techniques. Before making use of Arabisation at the lower levels. so that the teaching of a subject in Arabic can continue throughout the system. As it is characterised as a privileged and sacred language. ‘For him. This would avoid the problem of Arabised students who.
In Bouchard Ryan and H. (1987) Language and schooling in Morocco. (1988) Language planning in Moroccco and changes in Arabic. Buffalo. Pellats and Schachts (eds) Encyclopedia of Islam. (1982) Language policies and language attitudes: Le monde de la francophonie. A. Bourhis. 325–40. M. A. Gilles (eds) Attitudes Towards Language Variation: Social and Applied Contexts. Lewis. (1970) The free-school movement in Morocco: 1919–1970. 216–29. R. Lamalif 95. (1959) Diglossia. A. Conclusion So how. 50–3. the author is solely responsible for any inadequacy of English and any error at any point. A. L. Saad. The kind of Arabisation that I am advocating would be able to function in a lively modern Standard Arabic. In B. M. PhD dissertation. Brunot. Borrowings can be seen as a threat to the status of Arabic (Bentahila. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics 12. J.S. Salmi. Zartman. Cambridge. (1964) Morocco: Problems of New Power. Daniel A. Ennaji.W. and Wagner. Acknowledgements I am indebted to Professor Ian McDougall for his valuable comments on the English usage. Applied Arabic Linguistics and Signal Information Processing (pp. (1950) Introduction à l’arabe marocain. 34–46. Rabat: Institut d’Études et de Recherches pour l’arabisation. 1987). 561–601). Word 15. can an effective Arabisation be achieved? I have argued that the nature of Arabic itself is at the root of the problem. (1976) Méthodologie Générale de l’Arabisation de Niveau. Islamica 1. ‘Arabiyya’ (pp. Boston. Needless to say. and that a solution lies in improving Arabic. London: Edward Arnold. MA: Harvard University Press. State University of New York. PhD dissertation. Ibaaquil. (1983) Language Attitudes in Morocco. El-Biad. Laroui. in a word. Damis.Arabisation in the Moroccan Educational System 203 is very difficult for people to accept the kind of change which are normal in the evolution of other languages. Austin. C. (1982) Arabicization in Morocco: A case study in language planning and language policy attitudes. 9–39.D. (1973) Cultural problems and social structure: The campaign for Arabization in Morocco. 235–7). M. L. 21–31. (1985) A sociolinguistic study of the Arabization process and its conditioning factors in Morocco.Y. PhD dissertation. Leiden: Brill. D.A. Bentahila. Columbia University Teachers College. Hammoud. Paris: Maisonneuve et Cie. J. (1991) Language and literacy in the Maghreb. M. PhD dissertation. University of Texas. Ezzaki. (1984) L’enseignement des sciences entre deux langues. A. The International Journal of the Sociology of Language 74.C. (1978) Le Discours scolaire et l’Idéologie au Maroc. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters. Le Français dans le monde 189. J. Zizi. Khalafallah. Ferguson. Lakhdar-Ghazal. Tufts University. Gordon. (1962) Africa’s French Legacy 1954–1962. New York: Alberton Press. International Educational Development 7. Zohra (1994) Language planning and policy attitudes: A case study of Arabization in Algeria.. B. . (1987) Language attitudes as an obstacle to arabisation. References Bentahila. (1960) Early Middle Arabic. A. Washington: Hemisphere Publishing Corporation.
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