Morocco: Berber to be taught in all schools

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TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY OMAR BROUSKY- A pupils write on a blackboard during an Amazigh class, on September 27, 2010 in Rabat. The Amazigh language was first introduced in elementary classes in 2004 after Moroccan King Mohammed VI set up a Royal Institute for the Amazigh language (IRCAM) to promote Berber language and culture. AFP PHOTO ABDELHAK SENNA (Photo by ABDELHAK SENNA / AFP) (Photo credit should read ABDELHAK SENNA/AFP via Getty Images)

Morocco plans to progressively expand the teaching of the Amazigh (Berber) language in elementary schools, reaching 4 million students by the end of the decade, according to the education minister 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 move is in response to a long-standing demand by Amazigh campaigners to preserve the language, which is now taught to just 330,000 students.

Mr Benmoussa went on to say that its widespread implementation would “require an increase in the number of specialist teachers and bilingual teachers beginning with the next school year.”

The Amazigh language, along with Arabic, was designated as an official language in the kingdom’s new Constitution in 2011.

The use of it in government, local governments, public services, as well as in both public and private education, became official in 2019 according to an organic legislation.

One of this law’s most prominent effects was the addition of the “Tifinagh” alphabet, which is acknowledged as the indigenous Berber script in North Africa, to Arabic and French on public structures.

Amazigh campaigners, however, have critiqued the language’s sluggish adoption, notably in the educational system.

Another demand of the Berber movement, the Amazigh New Year, which is observed annually on January 13th, was finally granted by King Mohammed VI at the beginning of May.