Statements by several government ministries in Algeria stressing that the official language is Arabic have been welcomed by those who wish to see an end to teaching in French.
In recent weeks, the Ministries of Youth and Sports, of Vocational Training and Education, and of Labour, Employment, and Social Security have issued instructions to all affiliated bodies to use Arabic in official correspondence. The rules amount to a ban on the use of French.
Algeria was occupied by France from 1830 until independence in 1962. From 1848 onwards, it was not simply a colony, but an integral part of the French republic.
Algeria’s Constitution recognizes Arabic as the country’s official language, together with Tamazight, the language of the country’s Berber population. But it was only in 1991 that a law was enacted to generalise the use of Arabic. Since then, successive presidents and their governments have tried to enforce it with varying degrees of enthusiasm and success. (See a related article, “In Algeria, the Berber Language Can’t Get an Educational Foothold.”)
In early October, at the start of the new academic year, the Higher Schools of Artificial Intelligence and of Mathematics began teaching in English instead of French. The schools are affiliated with the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research and together have about 2,000 students.