ALGIERS (Albawaba)- A renowned Algerian writer, Boualam Sansal, has lashed out at the poor education system in his country.
"The totally Arabized Algerian education system is providing retrograde religious teaching," said Boualam. He said such a system can only produce an army of racist, sectarian and fundamentalist illiterates.
Under the pressure of nationalists and fundamentalists, Algeria reformed the country's past education sector that was copied from the French system.
"Schools have become an arena where all the contradictions of Algerian society confront one another," said Sansal, who chose to live in exile in France, after his country succumbed to Islamist violence.
Algeria, with a population of 28 million people, has been torn by extremist violence since 1992, when the authorities moved to ban general elections that the now outlawed Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) was poised to win with a landslide. The violence has so far claimed more than 100,000 lives.
Although it quelled the extremists, the army-backed central government is still compelled to find some grounds of agreement with moderate Islamists, like the Annahda party. The decision to reform the education system "through returning to sources of Arabism and Islam" was enforced in this connection.
The authorities issued orders to ministries executives to use only Arabic in their work.
Sansal accused his Algerian countrymen of exaggerating the debate against the "language of the occupier" - French. Algeria was under French rule from 1832 to 1962. Almost all Algerians use French in their normal lives. Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has a full command of French and uses it in his speeches, even in Algeria.
The prize-winning author said there is a "real battle in schools and universities between the advocates of French, Arabic and the Berber dialect, as well as between Islamists, secular and modernist activists. If Algeria persists in this outdated educational system, we will end up with having tens of thousands of jobless radical youth that will worsen the country's crisis," he warned.
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com )