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REVIEW OF ARTICLES ON LANGUAGE OF INSTRUCTION IN SECONDARY SCHOOLS IN NORTH AFRICA



 BY SAHID ABIOLA

1.0       INTRODUCTION
This paper intends to examine the language of instructions in North African secondary schools. However, it was observed in the course of the task that there are several factors among which are political, socio-economic, colonization and religious (Arabization) that determined the decisions of adopting a particular language of instruction in schools among these nations. It should also be noted that the North African countries reviewed include: Egypt; Morocco; Libya and Sudan.
2.0       LANGUAGES OF INSTRUCTION AT THE SECONDARY SCHOOL LEVEL
The medium of instruction is the language used by the teacher to teach. Teaching the language, or educational content, through the target language increases the amount of exposure the learner gets to it, and the opportunities they have to communicate in it, and therefore to develop their control of it.
The languages of instruction adopted in secondary schools are characterized by the categories and peculiarities of schools within these countries. Ahmed (2006) noted the existence of experimental secondary schools where the use of English language is the medium of instruction in Egypt. He showed that the experimental secondary schools are different from the public secondary schools when he recommended adapting the suggested programme based on the Whole Language Approach (WLA) for the public secondary schools taking into consideration the students’ level of needs.
He concludes by saying that secondary school students needs to use English communicatively and not to study it just for examination requirements. So, students have to deal with the English language as a whole.
Ahmed (2006) recommends that improvement in the content of the English language courses be taught in the experimental secondary schools in the light of his study results.
The use of English as a medium of instruction in secondary schools in Egypt as mentioned by Ahmed (2006) was confirmed when Torky (2006) submitted that the status of English on the international level is a major factor that contributes to the increased importance of English language in Egypt.
As a matter of fact, English has become an important asset for anyone seeking employment in Egypt. The main aim of teaching English in Egyptian secondary schools is to enable students to communicate in English so that they become able to enroll in the labour market and to cope with the challenges of the higher education as well. Thus, eventually the need for equipping Egyptian English as Primary Language (EPL) secondary students with effective speaking skills as the most important means of communication has arisen and more focus is given to spoken English at the secondary stage. Torky (2006).
As French is studied in some schools as Second Language/Foreign Language (SL/FL), Torky’s investigation further confirmed and strengthened Ahmed (2006) position of English as a language of instruction Egyptian secondary schools.
Amin, Abdul-Sadeq ALy & Amin (2011) also corroborated the position of Torky (2006) and Ahmed (2006) when they also confirmed the use of English as a SL/FL in Egyptian Secondary Schools. In their study based on ‘Using an Explicit Language Learning Strategy-based Instruction for EFL listening Comprehension Skills’, they defined learning strategy instruction as a cognitive approach to teaching that helps students to learn conscious processes and techniques that facilitate the comprehension, acquisition and retention of new skills and concepts (O’Malley and Chamot, 199:96). Learning strategies instruction improves students’ acquisition of English as a Foreign Language (EFL) in secondary schools in Egypt. They cited several authors such as Rasekh & Ranjbary (2003), Al-Hriree (2004), Olsen & Land (2007), Coskun (2010), Jurkovic (2010), and Takallou (2011) who have also referred EFL in Egyptian Secondary Schools.
In the problem statement of Amin, Abdul-Sadeq ALy & Amin (2011) they stated that there is a lack in EFL listening comprehension skills among first year secondary school students. This is consistent with the statement of problem identified in Torky’s (2006) study where emphasis was laid on the neglect of EFL speaking skills in Egyptian secondary classes resulting to students’ inability to communicate. However they recommended that more time and effort should be exerted to develop EFL listening comprehension skills as also indicated by Ahmed (2006).

3.0       REASONS FOR ADOPTION OF SUCH LANGUAGES OF INSTRUCTIONS: Colonization, Arabization (Religion), Geographical Proximity, Educational reforms
In their introduction, Daniels & Ball, (n.d.) disclosed that the study discusses the educational system of Morocco and ways the country’s multilingual history has influenced and continues to direct the choice of languages of instruction used not only in the secondary schools but at all levels. Daniels & Ball, (n.d.) cited Collins & Blot (2003) who showed that decisions about the languages chosen for instructions, as well as teaching methodology for multilingual students, are a matter of socioeconomic status, political influence and the status-quo power structures that dominate schooling in Morocco. Languages have been in conflict with regards to their appropriateness for use in education and government.
Daniels & Ball, (n.d.) confirmed the influence of language of the colonizers, however, in Morocco, French has held a prestigious classification, while the local dialect (Berber) has been assigned less desirable positions. In the geographically remote areas, secondary schools is a reality, thus, literacy in Berber has not been possible.
Daniels & Ball’s (n.d.) historical perspective showed the significant status of the indigenous tongues which do not merit inclusion in secondary schools, however, today, the use of Moroccan Arabic is increasing and elementary instruction has begun to be offered in the Berber dialects. The languages spoken in Morocco today are Standard Arabic (SA), Berber, Moroccan Arabic (MA), French and Spanish. French has been the most influential language due to occupation by France from 1912 to 1956. Morocco; original and oldest language is Berber.
SA is the official language of Morocco yet few Moroccans speak it as a first language. It is the first language of instruction in the country’s public schools. SA which is similar to Classical Arabic (CA) is the language of the Quran, and is used widely in the practice of the Islamic religion.
Ennaji (2005) cited in Daniels & Ball, (n.d.) revealed during France occupation, Moroccans were expected to learn French and to be educated in the ways of the French. The French attempted to modernize the nation and inculcate the belief that all Europeans and the French language were superior.
Few Moroccans were exposed to the language at home yet this was the language of instruction beginning at the elementary school level during the colonization period. Schools were not offering dual instructions. The goal was to learn in French only. It became the official language of government, education, business and the sciences.
Daniels & Ball, (n.d.) opined that some consider, French the door that opens opportunities in science, Technology and business. They also confirmed that during this period of colonization, French and English were taught as FL with French continuing to be the language of science and technology, while others view the continued use of French as a reminder of past colonialism and denial of Morocco identity as a non–European Muslim Nation.
Daniels & Ball, (n.d.) further noted that presently, languages of instruction is delivered in French and SA because many instructors prefer to teach in French because they are better prepared to give instructions in the language that was used to instruct them.
Daniels & Ball, (n.d.) cited (COSEF, 2000:43) that after the French colonization in 1956, Arabic-only policy (Arabization) was adopted which mandated that Arabic become the official language of Morocco and that Islam become the state religion. In the 1970s change was visible when secondary schools added instruction in MA to existing curricular in French. Arabization continued until the year 2000 when the National Charter of Education offered reforms. Because Arabization was not completely successful in the area of science and technology, the charter served to promote bilingual education in this disciplines and contributed to the birth of an educational system that values the multiple languages of instruction in all school levels.
The charter opened the door to instruction in the Berber dialects of Tarifit, Tamazight and Tashelhit because it gave regional autonomy to schools. One of the charter’s goals was for students to learn modern SA, the national language of Morocco, and to acquire high levels of mastery in two additional languages, preferably English and French. The author concluded that charter’s intent was to promote equity in education by making it possible for more students to have access to study in the content areas in a language could understand.
Issues related to the language in which teachers have been taught have set the standard for the language to be utilized for school instruction. During the French protectorate, educators felt more comfortable teaching in French. This contributed to keeping the French language as the medium to teach the content areas and most specifically, technology and science (Ennaji, 2005).
The study of Daniels & Ball, (n.d.) has further given credence to the existence and usage of not just French, English language in North African countries.
Lorent-Bedmar (2014) opined that the changes at the top led to a certain instability and lack of continuity in education policy. This opinion matches the political instability identified in Daniel & Ball (n.d.) that affected languages of instruction in Moroccan secondary schools. He also recognized the effect of Arabization policy, National Education charter as mentioned in Daniel &Ball (n.d.).
Lorent-Bedmar (2014) confirmed that Islamic education based on the Quran where Arabic was learnt through writing and recitation was the original education in Morocco inspired in the principles and ideals of Arab-Muslim civilization which had its golden age in the middle Age. Effort was made to discredit this type of education by the French protectorate but to no avail. The arrival of independence saw them reinforced, with a new impetus when the monarch leadership (Hassan II,1969) took up position in favour of the Quranic schools.
The goal of El Fatihi (2006) in his paper was to analyze nonverbal communication in beginners’ EFL classroom in secondary schools in Morocco. He indicated and recognized English as a Foreign Language of instruction in Sale Junior High schools where the researcher conducted both qualitative and quantitative study. El Fatihi’s (2006) study confirms Daniels & Ball, (n.d.) position when reference was made to the National Charter of Education reforms on the acquisition of high levels of mastery in two additional languages, preferably English and French.
El Fatihi (2006) disclosed that the questionnaires used in the study were written in Arabic because the target respondents are beginners, and they do not have a full command of English to answer the questionnaires in the target language. This explains further explains the positions of Daniels & Ball, (n.d.).
Benahnia (2015), just as Daniels & Ball, (n.d.), noted that Classical or Standard Arabic is the official language in Morocco while also recognizing a distinctive dialect of Arabic known as the Moroccan Arabic used as first language for non-Berber speakers. Besides Arabic, French is widely used as a SL. He noted that the introduction of modern schools which is based on the French system was a true revelation and challenge to the long existing Quranic schools.
Benahnia (2015) succinctly divided the education management system in Morocco into three tracks with emphasis on the first two tracks which are:
1. The Modern track – which is the continuation of the French system (using both Arabic and French as language of instruction)
2. Original track which focuses on Quranic teachings (using Arabic as the language of instruction and the Holy book of Quran as a main reference for all studies).
Just as Daniels and Ball (n.d.) referred to the National Charter of Education reforms where bilingualism (English and French) was encouraged, Benahnia (2015) further revealed in 1963 when education was made compulsory for all Moroccan children, the language of instruction were French and Arabic during primary schooling. During this period, all subjects were Arabized (using Arabic as language of instruction instead of French) in the first and second grades, while French was maintained as the language of instruction for scientific subjects such as Maths and Science in secondary schools.
He was of the opinion that Arabization was successful to a great extent, and by 1989, all subjects across all grades in secondary education were Arabized. However, French was maintained as the language of instruction for scientific subject in technical and professional secondary schools. Benahnia (2015).
Just as experienced by other North African nations, Arabsheibani and Manfor (2001) showed that during the colonial period, Libya experienced a dual education system. Libyan Children had access to formal education only up to the primary level. Beyond the primary level, the language of instruction changed from Arabic to Italian. This implies that Italian was the language of instruction starting from the secondary school level. The existence of the Qur’anic schools (kuttabs) which concentrated on the Arabic language and religious studies was also recognized, just as identified in Daniels & Ball’s (n.d.).
Abdel-Fattah (2005) presented Arabic sign language as the language of instruction to deaf students and deaf community at large within an Arabic speaking nation such as Morocco and Libya.
Siddiek (2010) observed that Arabic is the most dominant as it is spoken by the majority as mother tongue and also spoken with different variations in many places as a second language. Arabic is an integrating social and political factor in the unity of the Sudan. Some local languages are adopting the Arabic alphabet and some of the biblical scriptures are written in Arabic. The Sudan should remain united through speaking one language to make unity an attractive option for Sudanese in the South and the North.
Siddiek (2010) believes that the geographical proximity of the Arab world made Arabic found a good solid ground, pointing out that English failed to be the language of instruction in schools even after several efforts were made by the Governor General during the colonial era. It was further observed that in 1928, an inter-territorial conference was convened which came out to oppose Arabic and adopted English as the lingua franca in the south. However, Arabic was continuous and active because of active contact between the natives and the Arab traders.
Later in 1949, the Governor-General authorized the directive that Arabic should become the common language of the South which was also endorsed by the legislative assembly. This confirmed the adoption of Arabic as language of instruction in Sudan. (Siddiek, 2010).
Siddiek (2010) quoted the Minister of Education as saying “…the Sudan is one country sharing the one set of political institutions, it is of great importance that there should be one language which is understood by all citizens. The language can only be Arabic and must therefore be taught in all our schools.’’
It was further noted that in 1974, the Assembly finally resolved that English language be re-introduced as the medium of instructions in the educational institutions of the region which was rejected by the Executive council which recommended a language policy stating that:
1.         In all junior secondary schools, Arabic shall be the language of instruction while English is intensified.
2.         In all senior secondary and post senior secondary schools, English shall be the medium of instruction and Arabic is taught as a language with its literature.
The author concludes by referring to a quote in a letter written by Mr. Edward Mandeson from Indiana University in 1984 to Dr.Taminni. where he said that: ‘’My contention given the historical experience for the south and the background history of the Sudanese nation with its diverse national character, the Arabic language has come to stay and all that is needed is the casting of an agreeable language policy which is devoid of the historical sensitivities; generated by the traumatic historical experience the Sudan has gone through, is the only way out. Yes, it is there to stay’’ But of course – this time by the own free will and choice of the people. (Siddiek, 2010).
4.0       CONCLUSION
After careful review of 10 articles based on the language of instruction in secondary schools in the North African region, emphasis were on four  countries – Egypt, Libya, Morocco and Sudan. To adequately understand the language of instruction for some of these countries, it was deemed necessary to first appreciate the factors behind series of adoption of different languages of instruction in their secondary schools. A few of these factors are – colonization, political instability, educational reforms, religion, Arabization, multilingualism etc. Though, the reviewer was quick in identifying the language of instruction in Egypt, still it experienced a few of these factors mentioned above. The reviewer believes that it is very necessary for any country of the world to have a language of instruction for educational development. Therefore, the reviewer would like to recommend that irrespective of the language of instruction adopted for any particular nation, it should not only consider the diplomatic and socio-economic benefits within and outside the country, but also the psychological effects on language learners in schools who would have to contend with incessant educational reforms if the languages of instruction are inconsistent in their secondary schools.


REFERENCES
Abdel-Fattah, M. A. (2005). Arabic Sign Language: A Perspective. Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education, 10(2).
Ahmed, A. (2006). The Effect of Using the Whole Language Approach on Developing Some Composition Writing Skills in English for Experimental Secondary Students in Egypt. Cairo: Helwan University.
Amin, I., Abdul-Sadeq ALy, M. & Amin, M. (2011). The Effectiveness of Using an Explicit Language Learning Strategy-based Instruction in Developing Secondary School Students' EFL Listening Comprehension Skills. Egypt: Faculty of Education, Benha University.
Arabsheibani, G.R. and Manfor, L. (2001). Non-Linearities in Returns to Education in Libya. Libya:Taylor & Francis Ltd.
Benahnia, A. (2015). Transnational Education in Morocco: Current and Future Challenges. Journal of Education and Practice, 6(11).
Daniel, M.C. and Ball, A. (n.d.). Contextualizing Multilingualism in Morocco.
Elfatihi, M. (2006). The Role of Nonverbal Communication in Beginners’ EFL Classrooms Salé Junior High Schools as a case. Staff Development and Research in Higher Education. Ph.D thesis, Sidi Mohamed Benabdellah University.
Llorent-Bedmar, V. (2014). Educational Reforms in Morocco: Evolution and Current Status. International Education Studies, 7(12).
Siddiek, A. G. (2010). Language Situation in Post-War Sudan. International Education Studies 3(3) Published by Canadian Center of Science and Education.
Torky, S. (2006). The Effectiveness of a Task- Based Instruction program in Developing the English Language Speaking Skills of Secondary Stage Students. A Ph.D thesis submitted to Women’s college Curricula and Methods of Teaching Department, Ain Shams University.

REVIEW OF ARTICLES ON LANGUAGE OF INSTRUCTION IN SECONDARY SCHOOLS IN NORTH AFRICA REVIEW OF ARTICLES ON LANGUAGE OF INSTRUCTION IN SECONDARY SCHOOLS IN NORTH AFRICA Reviewed by IFEDAYO AKINWALERE on 7:01:00 pm Rating: 5

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