According to the BBC, Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune has announced that the nation, a former French colony, would begin teaching English in primary schools by the end of the year. In contrast to English, which Tebboune called an “international language,” he called French a “spoil of war.”
In 1962, Algeria declared independence from France, but the eight years of struggle that led up to that date were harsh and strained relations between the two countries. Keeping French as the language of government and business in Algeria is a hotly debated matter.
There are two official languages in Algeria: Arabic, spoken by the majority, and Tamazight, the language spoken by the Amazigh or Berber minority.
In an interview broadcast on state-run television on Saturday, President Tebboune spoke about the mounting criticism he has received from university faculty and students in an interview. They argue that because English is the language of instruction at colleges for students majoring in professions like medicine and engineering, it should be taught at an earlier age.
Students who will be attending middle school begin learning French at the age of 9, while those who will be attending primary school begin learning French at the age of 14.