Interview: Abdelatif Baba Ahmed

How does regional cooperation contribute towards the development of human capital?

ABDELATIF BABA AHMED: For Algeria, the quality of human resources constitutes a major topic and a strategic factor for reaching sustainable development. Therefore, the development of human capital is essential as growth and socio-economic prosperity are increasingly tied to knowledge, this being the source of wealth and success in an increasingly interdependent world.

The fulfilment of this requirement is also facilitated by the socio-cultural similarities between the Maghreb and Mediterranean countries, which offer us a diversified regional cooperation framework. In terms of human development, Algeria has always supported the efforts undertaken within the framework of the Arab Maghreb Union and the “5 + 5 dialogue” Euro-Mediterranean countries. In addition, we are making great efforts in terms of cooperation with other organisations such as ALESCO and UNESCO.

Taking into account regional characteristics (religion, history, language), the long-term goal is to give a new impetus to cooperation in the field of ICT, in particular norms and standards, content production and the guarantee of network security. Regional development is dependent on the efforts of governments, regional bodies, the private sector and financial institutions for the creation of joint projects and for strengthening partnerships between stakeholders.

What were the outcomes of the last assessment of Algeria’s education system reform?

BABA AHMED: The axes of development identified during the consultations were organised around four topics which are crucial to the reform process. These include teaching programmes, training of teachers, equal opportunities for success, and the modernisation of educational and administrative management.

Teaching programmes and curricula constitute the fundamental lever of the qualitative transformation of teaching. They are also the ultimate management tool for general educational policy. Discussions focused mainly on the density and relevance of the content of school curricula as well as on their adequacy with the allocated number of hours. Discussions also touched upon teaching-learning aspects, teaching approaches and pedagogical evaluation questions.

Other aspects were also debated, especially questions relating to the realisation of the principles of equity and equality of opportunities for success enshrined in the National Education Policy Act, notably fighting disparities in relation to school supply and enrolment conditions, reduction of dropout rates, support for children with special needs and the strengthening of actions to support schooling.

What are the initiatives implemented to promote learning of foreign languages in Algeria?

BABA AHMED: Promoting foreign language learning is one of the three structural poles of educational system reform, along with teacher training and the restructuring of the education system. The learning of a first foreign language, French, begins in the third year of primary school in our education system. In the first year of secondary education, English is introduced as a second foreign language for all college students.

A third foreign language, German or Spanish, is also proposed to foreign language students. From 2013/14, Italian will be offered as a third foreign language. Concerning the learning of foreign languages in Algeria, the situation is improving from year to year, with evidence for a net increase of candidates’ performance at the various official school examinations in the field of foreign languages going forward.

Similarly, much progress has been made on the availability and qualifications of the teaching staff through the combination of a number of policies, including the requirement of a higher education diploma in a speciality. Indeed, the quota of foreign language graduates that emerge each year from Algerian universities is increasing, a trend which we can expect to continue.