Morocco

Indigenous peoples in Morocco

The Amazigh peoples are the indigenous peoples of Morocco. Morocco has not adopted the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples nor ratified ILO Convention 169.

For the past decades, Morocco has been a unitary state with a centralised authority, a single religion, a single language and systematic marginalisation of the Amazigh identity. The administrative and legal system of Morocco is generally Arabic, and the Amazigh culture and way of life are under pressure to assimilate. Although the Constitution of 2011 officially recognises the Amazigh identity and language, rules as to how Tamazight is to be officially implemented, along with methods for incorporating it into teaching and as an official language, are still pending.

The Amazigh peoples

The Amazigh peoples are the indigenous peoples of Morocco and the rest of North Africa. While the 2016 census in Morocco estimated the number of Tamazight speakers to be 28% of the population, the Amazigh associations claim a rate of 65 to 70% This means that they may number around 20 million in Morocco and around 30 million throughout North Africa and the Sahel.

The Amazigh people have founded an organisation called the "Amazigh Cultural Movement" (ACM) to advocate for their rights. It is a civil society movement based on universal values of human rights. There are now more than 800 Amazigh associations established throughout the whole of Morocco. 

The Tamazight language

The teaching of Tamazight is of paramount importance to the Amazigh Cultural Movement. It was introduced into the Moroccan education system in 2003, but a decline has been noted in its progress since 2008. 

However, signs of improvement could be seen during 2917. In an interview, the Minister for Education highlighted the issue of Tamazight teaching, proposing a change in method in order to be able to roll out the teaching of this language more widely. This method consists of training teachers who will be able to teach both Tamazight, French, and Arabic. He proposed training 300 teachers in Amazigh during this year.

The Head of government has also called on several higher education establishments to introduce training programmes in the Amazigh language, in coordination with the Royal Institute of Amazigh Culture.

There are currently 10 TV channels broadcasting in Arabic in Morocco, and one in Tamazight. The channel is part of a plan of diversification and integration of Tamazight into the audiovisual environment.  The channel reflects this desire to provide our country with a modern means of communication that is capable of valuing the Amazigh identity through its various linguistic, cultural, artistic and civilisational components.

Main challenges for the Amazigh peoples

Since the independence of Morocco, the Amazigh tribes have experienced challenges in terms of land expropriations. In his speech to participants of the National Conference on "The State’s Land Policy" in 2014, King Mohamed VI issued instructions to review the situation of the lands managed by the tribes, but the problem has yet to be resolved.

Despite the improved results of the National Development Initiative (INDH) with regard to the capacity building of rural producers, improvements in access to education and health in remote regions, and the construction of necessary infrastructure such as health centres, poverty is still widespread throughout Moroccan society, albeit disproportionately so in the mountainous and rural regions where most Amazigh live.

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