Morocco is a country with unique cultural and linguistic assets thanks to its historical influences and to its geographical position at the crossroads of sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa, and Europe and its proximity to the Middle East. The official language of the country is Arabic (known as “classical Arabic” or “modern standard Arabic” [MSA]) while native and community languages used by most children are either a Moroccan version of colloquial Arabic (Darija) or one of the Amazigh languages and its regional variations, such as Tamazight, which is spoken in the South, and Tashelhit in the North. Wherever it is spoken, Arabic is characterized by “diglossia,” that is to say, the co-presence of two language variations, one that is used in formal education and is codified, and another that is used in regular exchanges in everyday life. In Morocco, MSA is used in the school and governmental offices, while Darija is the local variation, largely limited to oral expression with no written codification.1 Darija is constantly evolving by integrating words in French, Spanish, Amazigh, etc. Even within Morocco, Darija can vary from one region to another. As many words of Darija are identical to MSA, it is not considered a separate language, but this does not mean that the two languages are mutually intelligible. An individual who has never been to school and only speaks Darija at home will hardly understand MSA.2 Amazigh, on the other hand, uses its own alphabet, which is neither Latin nor Arabic. It is recognized by the Constitution as an official language, and the methods of its integration in schools, government offices, and society are still being negotiated.
The National Charter for Education and Training (CNEF), introduced in 2000, aims to achieve three objectives:
Primary education for all and improved education in quality and performance
Reformed educational system
Modernized educational system
However, as the end of the decade approached, in 2009, the Government of Morocco was forced to put in place a national emergency program to attain the above objectives. This program extended the deadline for achievement of the objectives to 2015 and added one more objective: The eradication of illiteracy.