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Morocco: Berber to be taught in all schools

Morocco: Berber to be taught in all schools
People wave Amazigh flags in Rabat, Morocco, 6 November 2016   -  
Copyright © africanews
Abdeljalil Bounhar/Copyright 2016 The AP


Morocco intends to gradually extend the teaching of the Amazigh (Berber) language in primary schools, a decision that will affect 4 million pupils by the end of the decade, the education minister announced on Thursday.

"The teaching of the Amazigh language will benefit some 4 million pupils in 12,000 primary schools by 2030," said National Education Minister Chakib Benmoussa at a press briefing.

This measure is in response to a long-standing demand by Amazigh activists, with a view to preserving the language, which is currently taught to only 330,000 schoolchildren.

Mr Benmoussa added that its widespread introduction would "require an increase in the number of specialist teachers and bilingual teachers from the start of the next school year".

The Amazigh language was recognised in 2011 as an official language in the kingdom's new Constitution, alongside Arabic.

In 2019, an organic law made its use official in the administration, local authorities and public services, as well as in public and private education.

One of the most notable consequences of this legislation was the appearance of the "tifinagh" alphabet - recognised as the original Berber script in North Africa - on public buildings, alongside Arabic and French.

However, Amazigh activists have criticised the slow roll-out of the language, particularly in education.

At the beginning of May, King Mohammed VI established the Amazigh New Year as an official paid holiday for the first time, celebrated every year on 13 January, another demand of the Berber movement.

In addition, the Moroccan government has decided to extend the teaching of English from the first year of secondary school in the public sector, in order to promote linguistic diversity in this country where French is a widespread but unofficial language.

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