A live streaming video published by a primary school teacher on facebook sparked a big controversy in Algeria, lately. The video showed a young teacher of arabic in her classroom surrounded by her pupils asking them questions on moral values. The teacher praised arabic language, and reminded the children to speak only in arabic.
Quite normal you would think knowing that arabic is the official language of Algeria.
But in a press conference, the francophone minister of education, Mrs Benghabrit, condemned vigorously the video she described as a catastrophe. She promised an investigation will be open and the teacher may face disciplinary measures. Ironically, in that conference, the francophone minister, unlike the teacher of the video, and despite few arabic words uttered sporadically, she spoke mainly in french.
A majority of people including teachers and the parents of the children in the video expressed their support to the teacher and to the message conveyed by her video. This wave of solidarity apparently made the minister step back as she refuted the allegations that she condemned the video for the message praising arabic language but rather for being recorded in a classroom.
Such claim is hard to believe knowing that the fervent and zealous supporters of the minister condemned the teacher essentially for the delivered message and not for the used method. El watan, the leading francophile newspaper in Algeria, expressed it bluntly in its article “Sa vidéo a enflammé la toile: le dérapage d’une enseignante de Barika” by Lounes Gribissa. The journalist condemned the teacher accusing her of brainwashing the children with her religious and pro-arab ideological message claiming vehemently that it is contrary to the values of a “modern” society and to the the goal of …”une école républicaine”.
Should we remind those “Francophiles” that the term “école républicaine” belongs to a french colonial terminology. Algerian school is neither “républicaine” nor “laique“. It is supposed to follow the legacy of the revolutionary school that actually resisted the french cultural colonisation of Algeria. That Algerian school, founded during colonization by BenBadis and Bachir ElIbrahimi, advocated then the teaching of arabic and Islam to Algerian youth.
This controversy over the arabic teacher’s video goes beyond a simple debate over the use of live streaming video in a classroom. It exposes the ongoing battle over education in Algeria between the legacy of BenBadis’ Algerian school promoting arab and Muslim teachings on one side, and the republican colonial school led by the francophile lobby on the other side.
It also exposes the sad reality that after fifty years of independence … Algeria is still culturally colonized…