Wednesday, November 25, 2015

A Majority of Moroccans Want English as Second Language

For months the debate about  linguistic identity has raged in Morocco. The tussle is between French, the English, with clear lines between those who favour retaining what they describe as the "language of history and the protectorate" and English, the language of "science and civilisation" 

The politicians have been vocal in the debate with Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane, expressing his desire to give English prime importance in the educational system and to become the second language after the Arabic.  The Minister of Higher Education, Lahcen Daoudi, has repeatedly stressed of English in the scientific disciplines, saying "We are obliged to gain proficiency in English" .

According to a recent poll by the Hespress newspaper, the overwhelming majority of voters want English over French in Morocco's educational system in Morocco.

The results of the poll of  41,526  people saw the support rate for English at 85.98 with only 14.02 percent of respondents wanting to keep French.

Dr Abdel Kader Fassi Fihri
International expert in the field of  linguistics, Dr Abdel Kader Fassi Fihri, says the result was"good news", because it reflects the awareness of Moroccan citizens in regard to the choice of foreign language, and the language of education in particular.

Fassi Fihri stressed that English, "being the universal language, is the language of trading and if you want to reach out to the world or want to move between one region and another, even in the Arab countries or  China, you need English. "

He also pointed out that English is the global language of science and scientific journals internationally are all indexed in English.

Dr Abdel Kader Fassi Fihri noted that "English has become the first language in Europe.  For example, in Spain, Germany, Portugal, and France the first other language is English," adding that he "You only find  French as the first foreign language in some African countries, which were a colony of France and Belgium."

According to Morocco World News, Moroccans have become more outspoken about the importance of switching the country’s education system from French to English. For the majority of them, as it is the case with the sample surveyed by Arabic-speaking news website Hespress, French is limiting their access to knowledge and economic opportunities. Even Moroccan officials have expressed on numerous occasions the importance of adopting English over French within the Moroccan educational system. For the head of government Abdelilah Benkirane, for instance, English is the language of today’s science, technology and commerce.

However, there are still people in Morocco who fiercely lobby for French to be kept the first foreign language of the country. Their efforts have yielded results as the Supreme Council for Education, Training and Scientific Research is said to be reconsidering earlier recommendations to replace French with English in the Moroccan curriculum. The new recommendations, if adopted, will be included in the Supreme Council’s Strategic Report to be submitted to King Mohammed VI.

The council headed by Omar Azziman, an advisor to King Mohammed VI, is said to have ordered the formation of a sub-committee to review the proposal of replacing French with English, a proposal already hailed by many members of the Council’s Permanent Committee on Curriculum, Programs, Training and Teaching tools in earlier sessions.

As one school teacher in Fez summed up, "The longer we take to make the switch to English, the longer we limit Morocco's possibilities."

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1 comment:

Wahine said...

I am a native speaker of English from Aotearoa New Zealand. I also speak French and German and last year completed a 3 year Diploma in the Māori language.

I want to come to Morocco with my husband to visit a friend in the Medina in Fez and experience your culture. I would love to stay with a family and speak English with them in return for accommodation and some meals. I would want to speak to them on Skype first. My email address is

I will take no part in the discussion as to which second language(s) you should adopt. The main thing is for children to start learning a second language as young as possible. In New Zealand there are few comprehensive second language programmes in primary schools - most are one to two hours at most.In secondary schools the most popular language is still French, followed by Japanese, Spanish and German. However only one in 5 secondary students learns a language. See

I hope there is plenty of public discussion re the pros and cons of second language(s) so that good decisions can be made.

Deborah from Aotearoa New Zealand