Drawing more deeply than previous chapters on literary texts, including novels by Mouloud Feraoun, Albert Memmi, Mohammed Dib and above all Assia Djebar, this chapter explores some of the experiences offered to ‘colonized’ students in colonial schools. It emphasizes the unfamiliarity of French culture to many Algerians and other colonized populations, and the tendency of French/colonial schools to discriminate against their ‘colonial’ students and to leave them with feelings of deracination and alienation. Through Djebar it examines in detail a particular example of how a French/colonial education alienated – and politicized – female students from a Muslim background. That example, I suggest, raises wider questions about the relationship between laïcité (secularism, especially in education), Islam and French Republicanism, an issue that is repeatedly invoked in debates today around gender equality and the Islamic veil in French education, and is also pertinent to post-independence Algeria. 
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