Politicians, educators and young people are rallying around an initiative to make English Morocco’s second language. English is rapidly replacing French, which is the traditional second language of the North African country. Young Moroccans who want to do away with their colonial past are increasingly using English as their second language after Arabic.
Demand for English
For the young people in Morocco, the demand for increased use of English had to do with academics, as they want to veer away from their colonial dependency, which they are constantly reminded of when they use French. At the moment, the demand for English to replace French is no longer just an issue with students, as politicians are also demanding for the switch. The demand from institutions of higher education to use English as their primary language had been going on but the government has not taken any action yet. There had been an announcement as well from Lahcen Daoudi, the Moroccan Minister of Higher Education that French will be replaced by English in the university and collegiate levels in March 2014 but no steps have been taken yet. However, this is projected to change soon.
In a video released on YouTube, Moroccan Head of Government, Abdelilah Benkirane said that his country should choose English as the primary language in school as it is the language of commerce, technology and science.
He also said that he was regretful that he himself did not focus on English, since he found the language very useful in his work, as well as within the states in the Arab world. He added that Morocco’s strong bond with France cannot be broken but he sees that the continued use of the French language is not their destiny. The continued use of French colloquially was not addressed in the video.
Not a threat to Arabic
While there is an increased use of English in various institutions of higher learning, Arabic is not threatened by it. Still, a statement stating that Arabic will continue to be the language of instruction at all levels of education was released by the Justice Development Party (JDP).
English versus French
In the debate on the issue of which language to use, one of the most important points that was raised was how beneficial the use of French is to Morocco. For one thing, English has become omnipresent, while French has declined as a world language. Students who are proficient in English could easily get access to online information.
Added to the issues are the facts that in many technological companies such as those involved in engineering and computer programming, many dominant firms use English as their main language. Thus, if Moroccan students in these fields wish to continue their studies at the top universities overseas, most of which are located in the U.S., it is better for them to be proficient in English to be eligible for enrollment.
Although French is still a strong language in the political world, when faced with choosing a language to learn, the English language is still the winner. Benkirane also stated that while the two languages are used in the United Nations, there are many political realms where English remains dominant. It was added that using English would also benefit Morocco economically since more American investors are likely to invest in an area where English is widely spoken.