Theses Doctoral

Morocco: Multilingualism, Cultural Identity, and Mathematics Education, Post-French Protectorate, a Historical Perspective

Aqil, Moulay Driss

Through a historical perspective, this study highlighted significant events and milestones about multilingualism, cultural identity, and mathematics education in Morocco pre-, during, and post-French Protectorate. Prior research in this area has typically focused on the effect on education of multilingualism and cultural identity in general, involving mathematics education only in passing.

This study’s purpose was to explore Morocco’s attempt to restore its cultural identity post-French Protectorate and how that attempt influenced the Moroccan mathematical educational system. In addition, this study focused on the Arabic and indigenous Berber (Tamazight) languages of instruction in mathematics in Morocco to investigate if teaching and learning mathematics in the Arabic and Tamazight languages in secondary schools is preparing students adequately for the tertiary level. Finally, this study attempted to see if multilingualism and cultural identity are at the heart of mathematical educational reform and to offer insight into the state of mathematics education reforms suggested by the Moroccan government to remedy this challenge.

In order to develop a comprehensive picture of how multilingualism and cultural identity have historically influenced the mathematics education system in Morocco and answer the research questions of the study, a historical research methodology was employed based on views of numerous scholars about bilingual education, cultural identity, diglossia, and how they affect cognition and learning/teaching of mathematics. Supplementary knowledge about students’ achievements, retention, and dropout rates at the primary, secondary, and tertiary levels by gender and grade were acquired and supported by quantitative available data in the official archives supplied by the Ministry of Education, UNESCO, and other organizations.

After independence, the establishment of an educational system that would take into consideration the deeply rooted Arab-Islamic culture and language and, at the same time, make use of the imposed Western system was a priority. Arabisation received more attention, and the selection of Arabic as a national language was a form of countering the colonizer’s language policy. Morocco has a particularly complex language situation, where French predominates in most postsecondary institutions, despite attempts to restore Arabic. The indigenous Berber language also plays a role in local culture and education. This work reveals a great number of attempted reforms by the Moroccan government and also demonstrates serious flaws in recent past attempts to reconcile the language issues, but offer ways forward in relation to mathematics instruction.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Mathematics Education
Thesis Advisors
Karp, Alexander P.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
September 19, 2019