France to Begin Teaching Arabic in French Schools for 'Linguistic Diversity'
President Emmanuel Macron pushes new educational legislation through
France will soon begin teaching Arabic in French schools to give children more "linguistic diversity."
French President Emmanuel Macron pushed through a new education decree to authorize his new program earlier this month.
France is currently battling one of the worst COVID-19 outbreaks in the world amid the global pandemic.
Despite this, President Macron still managed to sign his degree to begin teaching Arabic in schools - which are only just starting to reopen as lockdowns are eased.
The program seeks to guarantee “linguistic diversity,” and gives Arabic classes to students in French schools, starting from the first grade and continuing up through to university courses.
According to a report by Valeurs Actuelles, the program is being developed in cooperation with authorities in Tunisia.
Prime Minister Édouard Philippe and Minister of Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian also signed the decree alongside Macron.
Among its contributions, Tunisia will select the teachers who will participate in the program from its own population.
Tunisia was a French colony from the nineteenth century until 1956 and is a member of the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (International Organisation of Francophones).
The program will not only be limited to teaching the Arabic language but will also include education in Arabic culture and history, with a particular emphasis on Tunisian culture.
Arabic is currently the second-most spoken language in the country after French.
Politicians from the Right-wing National Rally party have already voiced their disapproval for the decree.
Jean Messiha, the Deputy Undersecretary for Management at the Ministry of Defence from National Rally, blasted the move in a statement.
“The anti-national government plans to teach Arabic starting in elementary school, at an age when children have barely discovered the French language,” Messiha said.
“The Arabization and Islamization of France is on the march.”
Defenders of the program claim that it is important for all French students, and not those of Arab descent, to learn more about the rapidly growing Arab community, both at home and abroad.
In response, National Rally’s President, Marine Le Pen, said that “of course there is a great Arab culture, but this is France, and I want us to learn French culture.”
The growing influence of Arab language, religion, and culture in France is becoming an increasingly contentious issue for the native French.
Last year, a poll revealed that 61 percent of French citizens believe that Islamic culture is incompatible with French culture.