After 60 years of French, a new language joins the schools of Algeria

The Council of Ministers allocated a space to discuss educational programs, after a deep study of the language issue, which took into account the historical, political and scientific aspects.

It is scheduled to include the English language starting from the third year of primary school, while reducing the area of ​​teaching the French language, which continued to dominate primary education, as it will be relegated to a non-binding third language starting from the next academic year.

According to experts’ estimates, the Algerian primary school needs more than 15,000 teachers to teach English in this new form.

The issue of language has made one of the forms of ideological conflict in Algeria for 60 years, amid the rejection of the Francophone movement, which fought the imposition of Arab identity in education.

One form of rejection was embodied in 1992 when he pushed the former Algerian Minister of Education, Ali bin Ahmed, to resign after the baccalaureate questions were leaked.

Bin Ahmed said at the time: “The process of overthrowing me was because I thought about including the English language, after I made the decision and collected 2,000 English language teachers in coordination with British universities.”

In view of the great spread of the French language in Algerian circles, the International Organization of Francophonie ranked Algeria tenth in the world in terms of the number of French speakers, as the French National Assembly considered it a francophone country with distinction.

Despite the important place that the French language occupies in Algerian society, Algeria refuses to join the International Organization of Francophonie for historical and political reasons.

The Algerian researcher specializing in cultural and intellectual affairs, Bouzidi Boumediene, said that the relationship of the Algerian school with the French language is an exceptional case in the Arab world, and it is related to the collective memory of the Algerian people who want to get rid of the French inheritance.

Boumediene told Sky News Arabia: “The linguistic struggle in Algeria has remained a form of struggle over power, influence and decision-making.”

The project of teaching English has faltered several times. In 2003, the late Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika issued orders to review the educational system.

A special committee was formed to reform the educational system, dubbed by the media as the “Ben Zagwa Committee” after its head, researcher Ali Bin Zagwa, and among its most prominent demands was the generalization of English language teaching.

Cautious calm in reactions

The President of the National Association of Parents of Students, Professor Azzedine Zerrougui, considered that this step would enable Algeria to establish the modern school that everyone aspires to.

Zrougui told Sky News Arabia: “This is an old demand for parents of students, and it must be defended by all means, and it needs to create a real educational climate for future generations.”

In recent years, calls for the replacement of the French language with English in teaching have risen, and the topic has become a subject of wide debate and is addressed on several occasions.

The former Algerian Minister of Labour, Employment and Social Solidarity Tijani Hassan Haddam said: “The English language should take the place of French in Algeria, because the latter is no longer universal and English is better for us, and we aspire to develop it in Algeria in addition to the Arabic language.”

A member of the Higher Council for Youth, Professor Bouras Yacoub, believes that the decision to include and teach English in the primary stage is an important step for the development of the Algerian school, which suffers from many problems.

Yacoub said: “This is a correct decision compared to regional transformations. It will not encounter any clash or conflict. All parents support this option, which reflects Algeria’s desire to open up at all levels.”

Despite the widespread welcome for the decision, whether through official comments and reactions, caution remains, according to some observers, as the Algerian journalist writer and director of the Algerian newspaper “Al-Fajr”, Hadda Hizam, indicated that there were those who waited for this decision and did not allow it to succeed.

Hadda said: “Teaching English is an important step, and it has nothing to do with fighting French, but rather with enabling future generations of technology and scientific research. This decision will drive the madness of many who fought Arabization in Algeria in every way in order to preserve the status of the French language.”

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