Sound and Sense

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A Dominant Community’s Attitudes towards the Teaching of Amazigh (Berber) in Morocco

di Mina Afkir

Abstract

Two linguistically and culturally different communities have been living in Morocco since the Arab-Islamic conquests in the seventh century AD, namely the Amazigh-speaking and the Arabic-speaking communities.

The language policies that were implemented by the Moroccan government from independence in 1956 till 2001 greatly promoted the Arabic language, which resulted in the exclusion of the Amazigh language from the educational system, the media, and public services and led to its marginalization and stigmatization. In 2003, after the official recognition of Amazigh as a basic component of the Moroccan identity and culture by a royal dahir (decree) in 2001, Amazigh was granted institutional support and was introduced in the educational system at the primary school level. The aim of this paper is to explore how the Arabic-speaking community, which has been a dominant language group in the Moroccan society for hundreds of years, views the teaching of Amazigh, which has reduced the space of the Arabic language in the educational system and has changed the status of Amazigh from a language of the home to a language of the school, granting it more value and power. The data on which the paper is based consists of interviews and questionnaires administered to a group of Arabophones in order to see whether they hold favorable or unfavorable attitudes towards the integration of Amazigh in the educational system and to what extent they are ready for this drastic change that will certainly remake the national educational space. Baker (1992, p. 9) said, “If a community is grossly unfavorable to bilingual education or the imposition of a ‘common’ national language is attempted, language policy implementation is unlikely to be successful.”

1. Introduction

Since 2001, a date considered a turning point in the history



References: Abouzaid, M. (2011). Politique linguistique éducative à l’égard de l’amazighe (berbère) au Maroc: Des choix sociolinguistiques à leur mise en pratique. Unpublished thesis,Grenoble University, France.

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