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Morocco to launch English-language news channel

May 16, 2023 at 11:51 am

Morocco’s Minister of Culture, Youth and Communication, Mohamed Mehdi Bensaid [mmbensaid/Instagram]

As part of its efforts to broaden the country’s international reach, Morocco has recently announced plans to launch an English-language news channel. The move follows growing interest in English as an international language in the kingdom, where French serves as an unofficial second language.

Earlier this month, Morocco’s Minister of Culture, Youth and Communication, Mohamed Mehdi Bensaid, emphasised during a parliamentary session the importance of the new language policy, which will entail Moroccan state-owned channels to adopt English and Spanish. This, he said, underscored the need to strengthen Morocco’s diplomacy at the global level, signifying the country’s new foreign policy paradigm.

The minister revealed further that state-run Al-Aoula channel is currently working on a project to broadcast news in English. These plans include comprehensive coverage of both domestic and international events taking place within and beyond Morocco.

Bensaid highlighted that the introduction of Spanish news broadcasting in Morocco almost 34 years ago has contributed significantly to the country’s appeal among Spanish-speaking tourists. It is expected that by extending this practice to English-speakers, Morocco will experience additional growth in its tourism industry.

The development reflects Morocco’s pivot towards the English language away from French, which is still widely spoken in the former French protectorate. In 2021, activists launched an online campaign to replace “outdated” French with English in education. The following year, the Ministry of Education announced that science subjects in both primary and middle schools will be taught in English instead of French.

Last year, a study commissioned by the British Council found that 40 per cent of young Moroccans considered English to be the most important language to learn, compared with just 10 per cent for French. Respondents to the survey also regarded English as being slightly more important to learn than Arabic, with 65 per cent and 62 per cent respectively believing each language is either the most important or an important one to learn.

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