EDUCATION IN ALGERIA
EDUCATION IN ALGERIA
The French colonial education imposed on Algeria was designed primarily to meet the needs of the European population and to perpetuate the European cultural pattern. A large majority of the students were children of the colonists. French was the language of instruction, and Arabic, when taught, was offered as an optional foreign language.
Segregated schooling of French and Algerian children was abolished in 1949, and increases in Muslim enrollments were scheduled in the comprehensive 1954 Constantine Plan to improve Muslim living conditions. On the eve of independence, however, the European-oriented curricula were still taught exclusively in French, and less than one-third of school-age Muslim children were enrolled in schools at the primary level. At the secondary and university levels, only 30 percent and 10 percent of the students, respectively, were Algerians.
At the beginning of the 1963 school year, the education system was in complete disarray, and enrollments in schools at all levels totaled only 850,000. In the years immediately following, teachers were trained hastily or recruited abroad; classrooms were improvised, many in the vacated homes of former French residents. Attendance climbed to 1.5 million in 1967, to nearly 3 million by 1975, and to 6.5 million in 1991-92.
At the time of independence in 1962, the Algerian government inherited the remnants of an education system focused on European content and conducted in a foreign language by foreign teachers. Algerian authorities set out to redesign the system to make it more suited to the needs of a developing nation. The hallmarks of their program were indigenization, arabization, and an emphasis on scientific and technical studies. They sought to increase literacy, provide free education, make primary school enrollment compulsory, remove foreign teachers and curricula, and replace French with Arabic as the medium of instruction. They also planned to channel students into scientific and technical fields, reflecting the needs of Algerian industrial and managerial sectors. The approach to education has been gradual, incremental, and marked by a willingness to experiment--unusual characteristics in a developing country.
The high priority assigned by the government to national education was reflected in the amount of money spent on it and on the existence of free schooling at all levels. Between 1967 and 1979, a total of DA171 billion was allocated for operating expenditures in this sector. In 1985 approximately 16.5 percent of the government's investment budget was devoted to education; in 1990 the education sector received 29.7 percent of the national budget.
Algeria received substantial assistance from the World Bank. Between 1973 and 1980, Algeria contracted five education loan agreements for sums totaling US$276 million. The World Bank has continued to provide funds and technical assistance in connection with a fundamental reform of education, the latest phase of which occurred in 1993. The structure of the existing basic and secondary systems was being revised, and much heavier emphasis was being given to technical and vocational schooling.