According to a recent Forbes article, two out of every three people fail to graduate from public universities in Morocco, primarily because they don’t speak French. The Moroccan government has proposed reintroducing French as the language for teaching science, math and technical subjects in high schools to combat the high university dropout rates. The government also wants children to begin learning French when they start school.
Morocco’s official languages are Arabic and Amazigh. Most Moroccans speak Moroccan Arabic, which is a blend of Arabic and Amazigh with French and Spanish influences.
In elementary and high schools, children are taught in Arabic. However, university classes are taught in French. This creates a barrier for students who did not grow up speaking French and has resulted in large dropout rates, which has slowed economic growth and deepened inequalities.
In Morocco, French is considered the language of the urban elite and colonizers. Reintroducing French into early education would overturn the Arabization that occurred after Morocco’s independence from France in 1956.
The proposal has caused tension in parliament. Members of the Islamist PJD party and the conservative Istiqlal party view the reintroduction of French as a betrayal. The disagreement has delayed the vote to make the change.
Proponents of the change say that French is important for business, government and higher education and those who do not speak French are at a significant disadvantage.