Share on LinkedIn
Share on WhatsApp
Share on Telegram

Education and the scientific metropolises

One: The educational policy in Algeria during the late modern eras:

During the late modern era, education in Algeria was connected to members and families and liberal charities,  while the role of the authority was still marginal because it did not have its own governmental institution, and this is where the role of the zawiyas and mosques stood out, where the children of Algerians were learning Arabic language and memorize the holy Quran, in addition to other types of science like forensic sciences, and grammar.

Although no renovation intellectual movements or subjective scientific uprisings appeared, education was spread across the regency of Algiers. Furthermore, some French witnesses stated that the percentage of illiteracy in Algeria at the beginning of the colonization was almost non-existent, and that most of the inhabitants knew how to read and write. To further describe the situation of education in that period, there was the testimony of Algeria’s affairs manager “Dumas” in 1850, where he said: “Primary education was more spread that we generally thought in Algeria, and our relationship with  the three districts’ inhabitant had shown us that the average numbers of males who know how to read and write was at least equivalent to the the average given by our statistics of our rural areas…there is undoubtedly 40% , however if not all the children learned how to read and write, they all went to school and were able to memorize invocations and some Quran verses, and all the tribes and metropolitan neighborhoods had a school teacher before the French colonization.”

Two: The most important educational institutions in Algeria:

There were many  educational institutions in Algeria that had a role in the flourishing of the cultural movement of Algerian society back then due to enduring the mission of teaching individuals and forming them. Among those institutions there were: mosques, zawiyas, Quranic schools, regular schools, and most of these institutions had an internal system in which there was perseverance and seriousness, and all the educational levels were very sophisticated considering the services provided for the students like accomodation and food services. We also note that they were widespread in villages and big metropolises, and it did not differentiate between the rich and the poor as a proof of social solidarity and equity in providing education opportunities for everyone, which was totally non-existent in civilized Europe during that period.

Three: The stages and programs of education:

The kind of education that existed in Algeria before the French colonization was the Islamic Arabic education that was based on religious, linguistic, and literary studies. Moreover, education went through specific stages  and had special programs.

  1. Primary education: 

This kind of education was given in Quranic schools and was open for the Algerian members, and it was associated with Masjids and mosques which made the percentage of learners highly increase, where every child between six and ten years old went to school and it was only for boys aside from the girls. The primary education lasted for four years through which the child learns the principles of Quran and how to write and memorize Quran in addition to the pillars of Islam.

  1. High school education:

This education was given in mosques where the student received the principles of islamic jurisprudence and language, grammar, linguistic morphology, and calculation. This education was the specialty of the Zawiyas and some schools, and the subjects taught were of a big importance, because it included teaching the rules of Quran, logic, history and astronomy. At the end of this stage, the student receives a written certificate that enables him to get a job.

  1. Higher education:

It is similar to university nowadays, where the student studied Arabic language, islamic jurisprudence, beliefs, literature, grammar, morphology, arts of rhetoric and logic and the science of tables to determine the time of prayers. Moreover, during this stage,  education was free and the teacher was designated by the Pasha, and the position required a license. As for the places of higher education, it was in big mosques like the school of the big mosque.

  1. Educational programs:

Among the programs that were taught in the late modern period, there were lessons about the basics of logic, Metaphysic, geometry, astronomy and tables to determine the time of prayers. The study of religion sciences was also spread, as for the brain sciences they were secondary.

Moreover, the programs of the primary and high school education were controlled by the schools’ administration, and the high school lessons were characterized with explanation and elaboration more than the primary stage.

Sciences and knowledge that were taught were divided into three categories:

1–Religious sciences like memorization of the holy Quran and explaining it, in addition to explaining Hadith and teaching islamic jurisprudence.

2–Language and literature sciences, like grammar, morphology, prosody, basics of writing since it is a tool and a way to master religious sciences.

3–Applied and experimental sciences like astronomy, medecine, and geometry.

Furthermore, all the schools adopted one educational approach without having any central authority to standardize science. Also, teachers and cheikhs were moving a lot from one region to another, so those who taught in Algiers can be found in Constantine or Oran, and the students were staying with their teachers and cheikhs for several years until they finished their religious and the sciences of islamic jurisprudence and others.. And the top students were given a license that enables them to teach. Moreover, among the most significant schools there were the schools of Tlemcen  which were 5 high schools and universities. Besides the French found 50 primary schools and 2 high schools and universities which were the Ouled Imam school and the Big Mosque school. Additionally, Algiers had 299 schools that had 5583 students, and Constantine city was a cultural radiance particularly during the era of Ahmad Bey who established the biblical school in 1776 to teach different sciences and had a special system. Plus, the teacher was very respected due to his knowledge and respectful profession. Adding to that, the number of schools matched the educational levels of the Azhar, Baghdad and Damascus schools, like the Mazuna school and others.