Spanish Education in Morocco, 1912-1956: Cultural Interactions in a Colonial Context

Spanish Education in Morocco, 1912-1956: Cultural Interactions in a Colonial Context

by Irene Gonzalez


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After establishing the Spanish Protectorate in Northern Morocco (1912-1956), Spain needed to create a system of colonial policies for the territory it was now to govern. Education became one instrument among many at the service of colonization. Spain created its own colonial educational model based on Spanish schools, Spanish-Arab schools and Spanish-Jewish schools, which coexisted with Koranic madrasas and Talmudic, Alliance Israelite Universelle and nationalist schools. The institutions created for Moroccans by the Spaniards united tradition -the Arabic and Hebrew languages and Muslim and Jewish religions- with the models and principles of the schools in Spain at the time. The end goal was to instruct the population according to a pro-Spanish, colonizer-friendly ideology in order to control the society and territory in a way that complemented military policies. The coup d'etat led by General Franco in Spain in 1936 brought about a change in policy in the Spanish Protectorate in Morocco. The Franco government's innovation was to Moroccanize the teaching paradigm, which transformed the Spanish-Arab educational model into a Moroccan model. The Spanish-Arab concept gave way to a Moroccan concept, which entailed the recognition of a national identity based on linguistic and religious precepts on the part of Spain. This process of Moroccanization did not develop under the same terms in other parts of the country, which gave the Spanish Protectorate its distinctive traits. Spain developed a policy that combined educational and cultural aspects through a discourse of Spanish-Arab brotherhood. The establishment of cultural institutions was a sign of this symbiosis and the policy became an important part of how the regime presented itself abroad.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781845196875
Publisher: Sussex Academic Press
Publication date: 05/01/2015
Series: Sussex Studies in Spanish History
Pages: 256
Product dimensions: 5.70(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.40(d)

About the Author

Irene González González is a researcher with the Grupo de Estudios sobre Sociedades Árabes y Musulmanas at the University of Castilla-la Mancha in Spain, and associate researcher with the Institut de Recherches et d’Études sur le Monde Arabe et Musulman in Aix-en-Provence, France. Her published work covers education and cultural policy in Spanish Morocco and Spanish cultural policy towards the Arab Word.

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Spanish Education in Morocco 1912â"1956

Cultural Interactions in a Colonial Context

By Irene González González

Sussex Academic Press

Copyright © 2015 Irene González González
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-84519-687-5


Education in Pre-Colonial Morocco

Traditional Education in Pre-Colonial Morocco

The widespread educational model in pre-colonial Morocco was the traditional or Koranic school. Until the introduction of European models in the mid-nineteenth century, the msid was the only space set aside for education. These schools served as both educational centres and locations for the instruction of Islam and the Muslim way of life. The schools were run by local elites and associated with mosques, although as the years passed, some of them dissociated themselves from these religious areas and moved to ground floor locations in other buildings. In pre-colonial Morocco, the msid was usually small and modestly equipped, with mats spread out over the floor for the students to sit on. The class was led by a mudarris or teacher, a position usually held by a devout scholar granted the title of talib after memorizing the Koran.

The classes taught in the msids focused on three exercises: memorizing and repeating the Koran, teaching reading and writing using the sacred text and introducing the student into the life of the religious community. After thoroughly mastering the Koran, a student was given the title of talib, which had a dual meaning: man of letters and scholar. This title provided access to the advanced education offered by the madrasas located in the great mosques in cities like Fez and Tetouan. For three or four years, a talib would study linguistics (grammar and syntax), legal precepts (legislation, jurisprudence and law), theology (the Hadith, or deeds and sayings of the Prophet), Sufism, metrics, arithmetic, astrology and logic. Subjects like geography, history and mathematics were relegated to the background. After concluding this cycle, students received the title of fqih, which qualified them to fill the positions of adl or notary; khatib, a jutba (mosque sermon) preacher; or imam or enter the University of al-Qarawiyyin in Fez, which was founded in the ninth century and served as a model for the teaching of Islam in the Arab-Islamic world, comparable to institutions like Al-Azhar University in Cairo. In Fez, students broadened their knowledge of the legal, religious and grammatical sciences. After finishing their studies at this level, they received the title of alim, enabling them to fill high positions in the administration and Islamic educational institutions. The sultan could not influence teachers, nor did he have the authority to reform the educational system in form or content. This privilege was reserved for the university, giving it greater independence with respect to the central power (Laroui 1994: 69–70).

Providing schooling for children was not within the reach of all families in pre-colonial Morocco. The family economy was based on livestock farming, agriculture and craft trades and each member made an important contribution to the family economy by working in the fields, selling products at the market or collecting water. Since minors were often responsible for these activities, many families sent their children to school at a very early age to study the basics of religion for two or three years, after which time most left their msid to work for the family. In 1912, the year that the Protectorate was established, the Spanish consul in Tetouan, Luciano López Ferrer, estimated the number of children attending school in the city at around 4,000, of which more than 15 percent were studying at Koranic schools.

Alongside the msid system, the Jewish community in Morocco maintained a network of Talmudic schools associated with synagogues, where students were taught the Talmud and Hebrew by a rabbi. The Moroccan Jewish community between 1850 and 1860 was comprised of 80,000 Jews (Taieb 1994: 35–6), 70 percent of whom lived in cities. In North Morocco, the community was concentrated in the cities of Tangier, Tetouan, Larache, Ksar el Kebir and Asilah, although the first three contained the largest communities.

During the Protectorate, the Spanish maintained the traditional teaching model in Spanish Morocco. The Treaty between France and Spain regarding Morocco signed on 27 November 1912 committed the two parties to respect any matters relating to Muslim tradition, religion and language, although the Spanish colonizers did not always abide by the agreement. In fact, in 1925, the Spanish High Commission in Morocco would create the Muslim Education Inspectorate (Inspección de Enseñanza Musulmana) and, a decade later, the Supreme Council on Islamic Education (Consejo Superior de Enseñanza Islámica), introducing colonial intervention into the traditional Muslim education system and breaking with the principle of independence for educational institutions with respect to the central power.

The European Missionary Schools: The Alliance Israélite Universelle and the Franciscan Friars

Even before the Protectorate, the internal crisis in Morocco during the second half of the nineteenth century facilitated the establishment and consolidation of a series of European missionary institutions for educational purposes. These missionary institutions included, most notably, the Alliance Israélite Universelle (AIU) and the Spanish Franciscan Missions. For both institutions, the 1860s were a key point in terms of their development and consolidation strategy in North Morocco. While the AIU was founded as an institution and created its first school in the country during this decade, for the Franciscan friars it marked the beginning of a period of reform for their missionary work in North Africa. The two groups shared a common purpose: the moral and educational advancement of the local society.

Over the course of the nineteenth century, various European countries began to increase their intervention in the Gibraltar region, which intensified the internal Moroccan crisis. During the sultanate of Mulai Abd al-Rahman (1822–1859), European colonial trade and military expansion in Morocco began to develop (Fernández Rodriguez 1985; Miège 1962; Pennell 2003; Brown 2012; Vilar 2010) and in 1830, French troops landed in neighbouring Algeria, occupying the northern part of the country. Once the French army had consolidated its position there, France looked for ways to increase its presence in the Maghreb, extending its sphere of action to Tunisia and Morocco. It was in this context of the expansion and consolidation of the presence of the French army in North Africa that the Oujda region in northeast Morocco was occupied. The direct consequence of this occupation was the 1844 Battle of Isly, which pit Mulai Abd al-Rahman's army against the French troops. The loss of this battle by the sultan had important consequences for Moroccan sovereignty. The European powers, awash with colonial fervour, took advantage of the weakened army to intensify their pressure on the country, while the French troops began their occupation of southeast Morocco.

French interests in Morocco were part of a larger framework: the Mediterranean context. While that country was trying to consolidate its position in the Maghreb, Great Britain was focusing its efforts on two geostrategic locations: the Gibraltar region and the Suez Canal-Egypt, which would allow them to control the Mediterranean's entry and exit points (Gueno & Guignard 2013). France acted as an obstacle to British objectives, with both countries trying to validate their rights to the area around the Strait. Control of Egypt and the Suez Canal gave London free access to the Indian Ocean through the Red Sea, reducing both the distance and time needed for their ships to reach India, one of their main colonies. Control of the Strait of Gibraltar and the consequent free access to the Mediterranean thus became a cornerstone of British colonialism and any movement by the French in the area was seen by London with suspicion. Although the Battle of Isly allowed the French to position themselves militarily in Morocco, a few years later, in 1856, Great Britain advanced in the region, signing a treaty with Mulai Abd al-Rahman that recognized British influence over maritime products and granted a number of jurisdictional and customs advantages that allowed British citizens to do business in Morocco. The treaty granted the British the right to rent and build homes and warehouses and to buy and sell any and all goods without needing to use local intermediaries for this type of transaction. Similar treaties were later signed with Holland (1858), Spain (1861), Belgium (1862) and France (1892), one result of which was increased emigration to the Maghreb and a higher European colonial presence in cities like Tangier, opposite the coast of Gibraltar. Little by little, this city became the western trade and commercial capital of Morocco while the sultan maintained his residence in Fez.

All of the agreements limited Moroccan sovereignty. Free trade and barriers to monopolies resulted in a loss of control in a sector that had once been the private domain of the sultan, and Morocco progressively lost the tool that had allowed it to control the degree of its openness to the outside world. Moreover, as European products were introduced into the Moroccan market, prices rose, creating new economic problems. However, European colonial penetration into Morocco was positively received by the Jewish community (Kenbib 1994, 1996), which saw a way out of their situation of inequality vis-à-vis the rest of the Moroccan population.

It was in this context that the Spanish-Moroccan War of 1859–1860 broke out, in which the Spanish government of General O'Donnell faced off against Sultan Sidi Muhammad, a struggle that accentuated the internal Moroccan crisis. Spanish troops occupied Tetouan, a city near Tangier in northeast Morocco. As part of the terms of the Spanish victory, the sultan was required to pay twenty million duros and sign a series of agreements granting Spain privileges and authorizations related to fishing and jurisdiction. The combination of additional treaties, the Berlin Conference of 1885 and the accession to the throne of Sultan Mulai Abd al-Aziz (1894–1908) brought about the beginning of the end of Morocco's effective independence. Day by day, the sultan's powers were increasingly reduced. In Europe, moreover, the great colonial powers of France and Great Britain were growing suspicious of the attempts being made by young, recently unified countries like Germany and Italy to become part of the colonial expansion in Morocco (Pennell 2003; Laroui 1977; Ben-Shrir 2005; Abitbol 2009; Miège 1962).

From the earliest stages, linguistic and cultural issues constituted one of the axes of European policies in pre-colonial Morocco. It behoved the local elite to acquire and use the language of the colonizer in the spheres of politics, trade and the military, which resulted in the Arabic language being dissociated from the spaces of power and decision-making. These linguistic policies were reinforced by missionary-type schools as well as institutions financed by the different European diplomatic representatives in Tangier. After Spanish shipping and trading companies became established in the major trade cities like Tangier, where a large part of the population who worked or collaborated in them were Moroccans of Sephardic origin who spoke Spanish, the Spanish language became the language of commerce in North Morocco at the end of the nineteenth century (Vallecillo Martín 1996: 10). However, the linguistic supremacy of Spanish was quickly threatened by the presence of the French and the Francization policies being implemented in the cultural, educational, economic and political-military spheres taking shape in the Mediterranean (Bouquet 2010; Cabanel 2006; Chaubet 2006).

The different European countries with interests in Morocco began to implement a series of policies aimed at consolidating their linguistic presence in Moroccan affairs. France and French and Spain and Spanish were the main actors in this contest, while English also occupied a small space in the battle. France and Spain were pursuing the same objective: a greater presence and more influence in the area. However, while they both exploited the same tool, language, to that end, the financial resources available to the two were unequal. Schools became a space for the confrontation of European linguistic policies (Calvet 1981; Bruézière 1983), with the different interested countries financing schools for the Moroccan population, both Muslim and Jewish, and for their own nationals. The schools were designed to teach European culture and language and for Moroccan students to acquire western abilities and social skills. On the contrary, a large part of the European student body had no knowledge whatsoever of Arabic.

During the first half of the nineteenth century, concerns arose among European Jewish communities about the persecutions taking place in some Jewish communities in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and North Africa while the Dreyfus and Damascus affairs in particular greatly disturbed a number of European Jews (Read 2012; Rodrigue 1996; Frankel 1997; Florence 2004; Winock 1988; Zytnicki 2011). These were decisive events in both France and Great Britain, where a network of associations and institutions began to emerge with the aim of working to defend Jewish rights and liberties. It was in this context that a group of young Jews in France, seeing the persecutions in the Mediterranean region from the perspective of their French liberal-political inheritance, created the Alliance Israélite Universelle (Rodrigue 1984). This group, who grew up amongst the French liberal bourgeoisie and had been educated according to the principles of the Enlightenment, the 1789 Revolution and the ideals of emancipation, decided to create an alliance in Paris based entirely on Judaism, the pillar around which they would promote the principles of justice, respect for human rights and equality (Chouraqui 1965; Ollivier 1959). The ultimate objective of the AIU was to emancipate the Jewish population, work on behalf of moral progress for Jews and create modern citizens in the midst of difficult contexts. If Jews in the Mediterranean were going to find a way out of the backwardness that prevailed in their communities, modern citizens would have to be created, requiring, above all, access to culture. One of the main tools in this campaign was the establishment of new schools.

Morocco was chosen as the site of the first AIU school (Harrus 2001). In 1862, the doors of the new school in Tetouan opened and two years later the Alliance inaugurated a new centre in Tangier. Soon institutions appeared in what would later be the Spanish Protectorate: Larache (1872) and Ksar el Kebir (inaugurated in 1878, it was closed shortly thereafter to reopen in 1911). At the same time, the AIU opened schools in the area that would be under French administration: Essaouira (1867), Fez (1882), Casablanca (1895), Marrakech (1900), Rabat (1902), Azemmour (1906), Safi (1909), Meknes (1911) and Sefrou (1911). After the Protectorate was established in 1912, the Alliance continued to open schools in other cities: Settat (1913), Al Jadid (1914) and Salé (1914). By the end of the nineteenth century, the Alliance had set up more than 100 schools around the Mediterranean. In addition to the Moroccan schools, they opened similar institutions in Tel Aviv (1864), Damascus (1865), Baghdad (1865), Edirne (1867), Aleppo (1869), Beirut (1869), Istanbul (1875), Tunis (1878) and Sofia (1879). All of the Alliance Israélite Universelle schools based their educational efforts on the ideological principle of the emancipation and transformation of Jewish communities.

The choice of Tetouan as the first site for an Alliance school was not accidental. As their commercial and diplomatic presence began to grow in North Morocco, the Europeans found that they had an ally they could work with in the Jewish community. Since then, Moroccan Jewish communities had forged closer ties both with European diplomats and with commercial centres in the region. The mellah (Jewish quarter) in Tetouan was one of the biggest in the northern Sherifian Empire and was home to one of the largest Sephardic Jewish communities in Morocco. The 1860 Spanish-Moroccan War had created serious military, social and political insecurity amongst the population, some of whom emigrated to Gibraltar after being subjected to continuous attacks during the conflict. From there, the Tetouan Jewish community established relations with Great Britain and France who then raised the alarm about the events taking place on the other side of the Strait.


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Table of Contents

Foreword Ana I. Planet Contreras vii

Preface Nigel Townson ix

Note on Transliteration xi

Acknowledgements xii

List of Abbreviations xv

Cover Illustrations xvi

Map xvii

Introduction 1

1 Education in Pre-Colonial Morocco 11

Traditional Education in Pre-Colonial Morocco 11

The European Missionary Schools: The Alliance Israélite Universelle and the Franciscan Friars 13

The Beginning of Colonial Educational Policy in Morocco 24

2 Defining an Educational Policy in Spanish Morocco 30

An Intervention Proposal for Muslim Education 30

Colonial Educational Organization 35

Inspecting the Schools 43

3 The Colonial Educational Model I: Spanish-Arab Schools and Spanish-Jewish Schools 47

Defining an Educational Model: Spanish-Arab Schools 47

The Process of Creating Spanish-Arab Schools 53

Problems with the Spanish-Arab Education Model 69

Spanish-Jewish Schools 76

4 The Colonial Educational Model II: Spanish Schools 80

The Spanish School Network 80

Improvements in Education, Schooling and Buildings 83

Spanish Schools in the Protectorate's Most Important Cities 92

5 Nationalist Education and the Response to Colonial Policies 100

The Role of Schools in Creating the Nationalist Ideology 100

Opening Nationalist Schools in Spanish Morocco 116

6 Interventionism in Muslim Education 120

Unsuccessful Attempts at Intervention in Muslim Education 120

The Supreme Council on Islamic Education and the Beginning of Successful Spanish Intervention in Muslim Education 125

Muslim Education from Intervention to Spanish Dependence 137

7 The Moroccanization of Education and the Discourse on Spanish-Arab Brotherhood 143

The Moroccanization of Education 143

The Development of Secondary Schooling and the Creation of Textbooks 155

The Discourse on Spanish-Arab Brotherhood 161

Conclusion 166

Appendix 173

Chronology 173

Transcription of Institutions and Place Names 179

Notes 181

Bibliography 189

Index 203

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