Many students said there were practical obstacles to switching from French to English. Redouane Djaber, a fifth-year student at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Algiers, was skeptical about the practicality of replacing French with English when teaching medicine.
“Ninety percent of the professors who teach us have not mastered English. They and their students all think in French. Medicine in Algeria is taught entirely in French,” he said.
“I myself am not ready to continue my medical studies in English. I may rely on English for research, or to improve my educational performance and future career status, but to change everything to English would be difficult, if not impossible,” Djaber said.
On the other hand, he added, “the training of new students in medical schools and in English from the beginning will have a positive impact on the specialty of medicine, because most of the scientific research and explorations, and periodicals of medicine, are in the world in English, and therefore the promotion of training in medicine is guaranteed by this plan, which must be deeply thoughtful.”
A Political Gesture?
Abdel Raouf Mezghash, a professor of management at the Faculty of Economic Sciences at the University of Annaba, in eastern Algeria, favored the use of English in higher education, but believed that Tayeb Bouzid’s proposal was a political move, intended to attract support for an unloved government. “It comes as a response to the ongoing popular movement, and is an attempt to please people who hate the French language because of the historic background of the colonial period that lasted for more than 130 years,” he said.
On the other hand, “French is no longer a language of science,” Mezghash said. “Its global role is smaller than it was, and the international job market now requires English rather than French.”
Nacereddine Maamari, a professor of law at the University of Mohammed El Amine Dabbaghine in Sétif, believes the minister’s proposal was a serious move and not just a populist gesture. “English is spoken and understood by a quarter of the world’s population,” he said. “More than 95 percent of scientific research is conducted in English, and trade, cinema and telecommunications are all in English, so the move could be very positive.”