Algeria recently banned private schools from teaching the French curriculum, under penalty of sanctions, according to reports in Le Figaro and Le Monde. Until now, many Algerian private schools offered both the national curriculum and the French curriculum, allowing students to sit for official French exams, such as the Brevet.
This new directive from the Algerian authorities prohibits the use of textbooks other than those approved by the Algerian government. In addition, 22 private schools in Algeria, holders of the LabelFrancÉducation label issued by the Agency for French Education Abroad (AEFE), under the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, were ordered to withdraw from this label, under penalty of criminal prosecution.
For some families, this new policy is perceived as a double punishment, because they hoped that their children would be able to take the French exams. This also coincides with the reform of the National Center for Distance Education (CNED) in France, which no longer allows Algerians to register and take the French baccalaureate, a route to Parcoursup.
Diplomatic tensions between Algeria and France, which emerged in 2021 following Emmanuel Macron’s comments on the Algerian “political-military system”, have shown signs of easing since, notably with Emmanuel Macron’s visit in Algiers in 2022. However, relations between the two countries still seem unstable.
Although the new Algerian education policy cannot be directly attributed to tensions between the two countries, reports suggest that some private schools favored French over national education, with students often more proficient in French than Arabic. .
Despite this, the French language is still taught 5 hours per week, but English is gaining popularity, gradually competing with French, which remains linked to colonial history.
Switching to English
A year after launching a pilot program to teach English in primary schools, it was considered a success by the Algerian government which decided to expand it.
This measure reflects an expanding linguistic shift in former French colonies across Africa.
In this context, Algerian education authorities are implementing new teacher training programs in universities and hope for transformative changes in the coming years.
For the Ministry of National Education, the teaching of English is a strategic option in the country’s educational policy.
With the decline of France’s economic and political influence in Africa, Algeria joins a broader list of countries gradually adopting English as an important foreign language.
From the start of the school year, it will no longer be possible to provide programs in French in Algerian private schools.
Separately, admission requirements to Algerian universities will become stricter for students with a French secondary school diploma, a measure seen as an act of “reciprocity” in response to France’s treatment of Algerian students.
This article is originally published on arabnews.fr