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Moroccans Explain Why the Inclusion of Darija Dialect in the 2nd Grade

TAZZARINE, ZAGORA (November 04, 2018) - Many Moroccans are still fuming about the Ministry of Education’s decision to include Arabic dialect in 2nd grade textbooks.

The textbooks for the 2018 curricula include Darija words in Arabic lessons accompanied by illustrations. Some of the words featured in the books are items of traditional clothing and food items from the Moroccan cuisine like baghrir, ghriyba and briouat.

But Zineb B. and countless other parents are still fuming about the introduction of Darija in the classroom. She said: “Darija is unsuitable when it comes to mastering the Arabic language. “We would understand if Darija was included in a textbook for students of the mission but what is the value of it to a Moroccan child who does not know what the word baghrir means.”

Language has long been the subject of heated debates in Morocco. There is still an ongoing debate on whether it’s better to use French or English as the main instruction language in the education system. Modern Standard Arabic is the official language of Morocco and is used for official business. Nevertheless, Darija is the most commonly spoken language of the Moroccan people. Despite this, no one writes in Darija as it is a spoken dialect without a writing system. But if so many people speak Darija, why is it causing so much controversy?

A research conducted in 2002 revealed that 52% of Moroccans considered Darija to be inferior to Arabic because it does not have a prestigious status and the domain is restricted. But it’s not just about inferiority. For many the introduction of Darija in the education system is seen as an intrusion. Others view Darija as a political ploy. Mus O. said “The goal is to blur rather than enhance Arab identity. This is just a trick to divert attention from the real problems in the Moroccan education system.”

But the Ministry of Education has defended the inclusion of Darija in the 2018 curricula saying that only eight words in Darija was featured in the textbook. The spokesperson for the ministry added that the inclusion of these words were merely for educational purposes and argued that the words have no translation in Arabic language.

Despite the public outcry against the use of the Arabic dialect in the education system, many are still interested to learn the language. Study Arabic Marrakech recently launched an intensive Moroccan Dialect Darija Group and the response has been overwhelming. Many tourists who engage the services of Dessert Morocco Adventure continue to express a keen interest in learning the language so they can interact with the locals.

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Said Laand
14, Rue Ben Nafaa
Marrakech 40000, Morocco
Email: said@visitmedina.ma

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