Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Morocco's Push For English Gains Ground

On March 17, the Ministry of Handicrafts, Social Economy and Solidarity launched an English training program for trainees or graduates from handicrafts institutions in Fez. The move comes as part of a larger movement across the Kingdom to raise the status of English as a language essential to development and tourism

The struggle to spread the use of English has been going on for the last few years. Back in November 2016 the Minister of Education and Vocational Training, Rachid Belmokhtar, declared that the Ministry has taken serious procedures to expand and improve the use of the English language among students in the Moroccan Kingdom.

At the time Belmokhtar revealed that, in response and accordance with the reform project called for by King Mohammed VI, the Ministry of Education has adopted new approaches and methods to expand and improve the comprehension of school pupils in the country’s newly adopted second foreign language of English. “We’ve tried to encourage the creation of English clubs in all high-schools to encourage students to be able to speak it,” Belmokhtar said.

The move towards promoting English has recieved support, not only within Morocco, but also from abroad. Prominent Kuwaiti businessman and Muslim scholar Tariq Al-Suwaidan has been quoted as saying publicly, “French language is useless and a waste of time.”

Muslim scholar Tariq Al-Suwaidan 

Al-Suwaidan went on to say, “I am serious, French is not the language of tourism, science and civilisation. France is a backward country in terms of administration.” He pointed out that...“Today, the language of science is English – keep it in your minds. I see proof that Arabic was the historic language of science, however, the current [leading] language of science and tourism is English,” noting that “80% of scientific researches in every field are released [and conducted] in English and the 20% of [researches are conducted] in other different languages.”

“French ranks as the 16th most widely spoken language. So, it is useless in the fields of tourism, science and civilisation,” he said.“I think, according to your history and the dominance of the francophone [culture], which you have to get rid of it – you are still attached to French [language]. We need to break this barrier, because it is useless. [Please] pay to attention to this and learn English.”

Over the past years, the issue of English has become controversial, but, according to a 2015 survey, conducted by news website Hespress, 85.98% of Moroccans want to replace French with English as the country’s first foreign language.

300 Artisans will gain increased proficiency in English 

Morocco World News reports that the new project for artisans is part of a partnership agreement between the ministry, the American Embassy, and the American Language Center to provide beneficiaries with tools to communicate with tourists and improve the sale of their products.

More than 300 artisans in the Msala and Aouinat Hajjaj handicraft institutions will benefit from this program, which will be assisted by the University of Sidi Mohammed Ben Abdellah  and the handicraft chamber of the Fez and Meknes region.

“The program aims to empower young trainees with various tools including communication, to enable them integrate in the labor market and to develop this sector which is considered one of the pillars of the national economy,” said Fatema Marouane, the head minister.

The American Language Center in Fez is a major partner in the program

The program, launched in the presence of the Wali of Fez-Meknes region, Said Zniber, and the representatives of all partners of the program, will comprise 36 hours of educational activities which might be expanded, along with certificates to be given to the beneficiaries by the ALC.


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