Isn’t It Time for that Long-Awaited Change in Moroccan Education?

Isn’t It Time for that Long-Awaited Change in Moroccan Education?

By Adil Bentahar

Morocco World News

Laramie, Wyoming, February 24, 2013

While reading Chapter One of Change Wars by Andy Hargreaves (2009), I found myself thinking deeply of my country: Morocco. The chapter depicts stages and principles of social change in education, as well as alternative plans that can bring about social change. For the purpose of the article, I am using Ronald Heifetz’ (1997) definition of change, being “Solutions to adaptive challenges [which] reside not in the executive suite, but in the collective intelligence of employees at all levels”. No sooner had I finished reading the chapter than I jotted down a few reflective notes translating my dissatisfaction with several of the educational practices and beliefs that hinder that hoped-for social change in education.

In Morocco, one of the impediments to social change in schools is an absence of a clear vision in many Department of National Education decision-makers’ agendas. As I see it, such a vision should build on what has been accomplished previously and use the present available means and resources to positively impact future plans. Some ministers and government officials in Morocco have tried to leave a level of distinction or a very special touch during their term of office, which is a noble aspiration. Nevertheless, that same ‘noble’ end has also meant discarding previous achievements or supplanting precedent efforts and starting over. This is neither professional nor comprehensible, at least to me as a teacher who served in Moroccan classrooms for 5 years.

Another hurdle in Moroccan education relates to literacy, in its basic sense of being able to read and write. I cannot stress enough the momentous role of literacy in moving nations and civilizations forward. In fact, literacy may not be prioritized at the expense of other reform priorities such as learning how to live together in conflict-stricken countries or ensuring sustainable development initiatives in underdeveloped worlds, priorities that obviously loom larger (than literacy). However, literacy in Morocco is the priority of priorities; it truly saddens me that almost half of Moroccan females in rural areas are illiterate. I do not think Moroccan officials have taken this issue seriously enough; there is more talking than doing.

Let us go back to more school-related issues. Successful social change in education also necessitates the involvement of the general public and teachers in school matters. The expectations of parents, students, and teachers should be seriously considered. I noticed for example that in Southern Morocco, a large number of parents would visit their students in schools only when there was an issue requiring immediate parental involvement.

Seldom did I see parents visiting to check on their students’ learning and meet the teachers, which would definitely provide students with emotional, parental support. In addition, notwithstanding their role as helpless implementers of government educational curricula, teachers still belong to the community. They are viewed as active, informed, and highly educated citizens. Thus, as active partners and agents of any educational change, teachers in Morocco should enjoy more involvement in the making of any educational reforms.

In reality, this is not always the case. Not so infrequently, when I was in the classroom, my colleagues would complain about the Rabat-based people, those know-it-all figures who pass and impact laws related to the dos and don’ts of education. Ironically, according to some veteran colleagues of mine, many of those same decision-makers at the ministry level had never been in the classroom. They are folks who had perhaps received a western education in France or the United States in the hope of copying and pasting, e.g., French or American educational practices. It still remains uncertain whether governmental implementation of foreign success stories is preceded by a meticulous scrutiny of and genuine consideration into the nature, environment, and characteristics typical of Moroccan classrooms.

Part of the solution to improving and bringing about that long-awaited social change in the Moroccan education entails more student involvement in the making of school-related public policies. Taking civic education as an example, how much democracy is nurtured in Moroccan schools? In fact, I have always believed that schools, any schools, need to expose students to concrete practices of democratization, which helps inculcate basic civic knowledge, skills, and dispositions in young children. It may even sound as a dilemmatic.

How could we expect students to learn and practice civic, democratic practices while they themselves have no say in the making of the rules regulating the school laws? Insufficient student involvement is indeed prevalent in schools in Morocco and emerging democracies such as some countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. Whereas students unquestionably represent the majority of the entire educational system community, they still barely have a say in the making of related public policies such as deciding on school councils, voting on appropriate time periods, and managing school budgets. And when they do, their voice is still not primal. This is why, in order to positively impact the culture of Moroccan schools, students’ voice ought to be heard, simply because it has to be heard.

Contributing to nurturing social change in Moroccan education does not call for miraculous practices or solutions. What Morocco needs is placing highly qualified people in high decision-making positions based on their merit and academic credentials, as well as tangible contributions and accomplishments with respect to school public-policy making. Morocco also needs people who have rich experiences in teaching and understand the concerns of parents, teachers, and students. Morocco needs people who feel a sense of belonging to the school community and sincerely care about a Morocco of and for better education. Last but not least, Morocco needs a government that truly values and recognizes the efforts of thousands of teachers who live and work in harsh conditions, such as the mountains. These teachers are soldiers who still believe in their noble mission of enlightening young Moroccan minds and preparing them for a better Morocco.

Adil Bentahar, is a PhD student in Curriculum and Instruction, University of Wyoming, USA. He served in as a high school EFL teacher in Agadir, Southen Morocco. His interests include civic education, social justice, and metacognition. Adil’s recent publication is a book entitled “Can ESL Teachers Teach Reading Metacognitive Strategies?”

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Comment!

Join the Conversation. What do you think?

  • Adil Bentahar

    The article is by no means comprehensive. Nor does it discar the huge efforts that have been implemented. It attempts to highlight some of the facets typical of educational systems in several emerging democracioes including Morocco. Any ideas, comments, or critiques are highly appreciated and most welcome. Adil Bentahar

    • Real me

      Education in Morocco has lots of challenges and cannot be tackled from one standpoint. The article highlights some of these issues, which is a good attempt.

  • Amina Charraf

    We will always find those people who resist to change; some supervisors who still think of themselves as inspectors and who generallly visit teachers UNEXPECTEDLY ONCE A YEAR to take them by surprise and judge them on that one session they have attended unaware that their role has changed long ago. There are also those school principals who act according to their mood and those who can’t take decisions without getting back to or receiving instructions from their bosses . Change requires strong will,commitment,responsibility and above all TRUST. It also requires the desire to create harmony in the difference

    • Adil Bentahar

      Dear Amina,
      You’re in the right when you stress the importance of trust between all education- related stakeholders, teacher-teacher-supervisor in particular. During my 5 years in the classroom, I was fortunate to have such as very suportive supervisor who was very laid back and helpful. Yet, I do recognize your concern, because I also used to hear about certain supervisors who deemed themseves thought they had unquestionable powers, presumed authority that could be abused at the expense of novice teachers’ peace of mind. Again, we all need to reconsider our attitude and value the relational side; supervisors’ interventions should especially aim at improving the teaching style of those teachers with a reminder that no one is perfect. Novice/veteran teachers’ effort and initiatives should be met (e.g. by principals) welcomingly. Needless to mention that there are Moroccan supervisors who modestly serve as role-models for teachers, and they are many. When that trust you mentioned is emphasized, other beautiful things happen naturally. Thanks.

  • zionist murder children

    Only way positive change ever comes to Morocco is by firing every single person that works for the ministry of Education. I mean EVERY single person from the Academies to the Delegations and most especially ANYONE who has an office in Rabat. EVERY single person that works for the ministry of Education is a criminal, incompetent or both. They bring nothing but shame to all Moroccans. Once you fire every single one of them, you begin the process of hiring teachers and Principals for schools who are willing to be paid based upon results. You do away completely with the Francophone system and replace it with an SAT based A Level system – and the people who now work for the Ministry of Education in Rabat should ALL be jailed. They are ALL criminals, I would list the most evil thieves here by name, but then you would not be able to print this.

    • Adil Bentahar

      Dear Mr./Ms. Murder Children,
      I want to remind myself, and you, of an Arabic maxim stating that difference in opinion does not spoil/mar friendship.
      So, I don’t see any expediency in firing people for the sake of firing people. I undertsand that there are a large number of teachers and employees belonging to the Ministry (Department) of National Education, who may be incompetent and do not deserve tenure. Nonetheless, we should also admit a larger number of teachers and administrators have devoted their entire lives to enlightening young children’ minds. Still thousands of teachers/educators work in harsh conditions, far from their families because they believe they have a missin to fulfill as ethically and properly as passible. Still other teachers, starting their first year teaching, borrow money from otheir relatives and friends, for they won’t be paid until a few months pass. Still other administrators in the ministry/ administration offices are doing their best to resist those know-it-all figures who are sinking in old-fashioned, ‘sick’, and inadequate practices. Should we fire these, too? And if you fire every single person, what would you do next? Do you have a ready-made plan for ‘saving’ our education? Again, this does not mean that the road is all roses; there is much to do, but we should probably think realistically and practically. Thanks.

      • zionist murder children

        I have a plan. I have a plan that would actually work. The first step is admitting the truth. The truth is that going to school does not guarantee you a job. The truth is that a student who studies math and science is not any more valuable to society as a whole than a student who studies language or music or art. Society is a whole. In order for it to function properly, all members of society must have value. Thus the first step remains the same – Fire EVERYONE and then rehire those who can prove they are worthy of being rehired. When I did consulting – we would go to companies and require ALL employees to write down their job function description – what they did – what they wanted to do – what they were proudest of – what their biggest challenge was – and based upon this we decided if they got a severance package or were rehired. This is what needs to happen in Morocco – except – I would add a few obvious steps – anyone who thinks it teaching should be about making money should be fired – anyone in the private sector running for profit schools should be closed down – Education and Police/Prisons should not be about making money – they should be self sufficient and deliver a value added commodity, but should always act in the interests of society – The teachers and Educators who have some level of integrity will be rehired – 99% will not – and most of those 99% belong in jail.

        • Lotf Ellah El Hassani

          there should be a real political will to reform the educational system. Education is the only way towards development. Governance was one of the main concepts that we hear about in the Moroccan political discourse in the last few years. Yet, it is just too much talk with no actions at least in the field of Education. your analysis, Mr Bentahar is reasonable, but we cannot deny the responsibility of some teachers for the failure of the Moroccan educational system.
          As teachers in the Moroccan public school, it is a part of our duty as informed citizens to make social change in our educational system. There is no hope in waiting for change to come from above.

          • Adil Bentahar

            No one would diagree about teachers’ accountability toward their country, Morocco. I do believe that despite any unenviably harsh conditions that teachers may be undergoing in remote or even urban areas, they still have no excuse not to fulfill their mission of shaping today’s minds, thereby orienting tomorrow’s Morocco. Yes, I am with you in that whoever is not fulfilling their work properly should be judged and punished accordngly, whether top officlias or ordinary instructors. At the same time, whoever is excelligng in his or her work as an educator, should be rewarded with practical incentives without complete disregard of which party that educator belongs to or which key figures they know. It’s all about work and accountability. That’s how we move on as a country.

          • ZionistSlayer

            Adil – I agree with you 100% – it is all about holding people accountable – rewarding good behavior and punishing bad behavior – the problem is that the people in charge are the ones who steal the most, do the least and exhibit the most dishonorable vices you can imagine. We also must recognize a reality in Morocco – Moroccan Teachers and ministry of Education employees are FAR BETTER paid than ANY other African Country, despite having the WORST results of ANY African Country! Mauritania has a higher literacy rate! Mauritania…. I am not even going to talk about places that have recently come out of civil wars, like Ivory Coast – and they STILL have better education systems than Morocco! Fire all of the Ministry of education employees – prohibit FOR profit schools – eliminate French, Amazigh and Arabic from being compulsory subjects – that is the solution. We need MOROCCAN Arabic to be spoken in schools. Moroccan Arabic needs to be the language used to explain EVERYTHING.

          • Adil Bentahar

            I am glad there are some common points about which you and I agree. We don’t to agree about every single opinion, though. Thanks.

          • Adil Bentahar

            For the payment of Moroccan teachers, please take into account the cost of living in those African countries and that in Morocco. For me, the salary [if ever that ‘generous’ for you] reflects the high cost of living, especially in big cities.

          • freedom of speech

            I do not agree with you that french and the two nationa language should be eliminated and Morocco arabic is adopted in stead. It is true that Arabic is nobody’s mother tongue. However, if we go for monolingual education system we will drive the country to regression. we will repeat the mistake made by the old istiqlal party who opted for arabization policy after the proclamation of independence. We need to go for a bilingual approach and we need to give more attention to the development of french. Our students’ competence of this language is particularly poor. the job market necessitates a good command of french which the majority of our youth do not manifest. the people in power want us to stay damn so they can send their children to french school. In this way, well-paid jobs are reserved to their kids and the masses are condemned in poverty and unemployment. we do not need to be extreme in our views and decision. Amazigh and Moroccan dialects should be protected and preserved but we need to open up on the other world. we are blessed that we are a multiethnic society; sth we should be proud of. I hope you get my point.

          • ZionistSlayer

            Brother – French is dead – you know how I know this? Because the richest people in Morocco are no longer sending their kids to French schools – they are sending them to the US. This is a fact. Don’t talk to the Millionaires of Morocco – Talk to the Billionaires of Morocco and find out where their kids are studying – they are ALL studying in the US.

          • Adil Bentahar

            Dear Lotf Ellah,
            Obviously, it all depends on the political will. No change whatsoever (in education, economy, agroculture, you name it) will take place in the absence of the leaders’ political will. Tom (above) stated implictly that when politics interefere, few gains are expected, especially when politicians prioritize their personal and party-oriented agenda over the development of the populace [which is teh case in several countries]. As a teacher, I have always held myself and all teachers accountable, because we are part of that change and therefore our attitude and performance impact schools and students either positively or negatively. No question about it.

    • TEACHER

      I Think that we should not balme one part ,without another.It’s not only the government and the ministry of eduaction that are responsible for reforming our educational system.We ,teachers,parents,students,civil society are 100% responsible for this issue.Reform begins from the basis,not from the summit,and we climb a moutain down,not up.So,hand in hand surely we will surmount all the problems eduaction faces in the kingdom.

      • Student

        I agree with you. as what has been said that the first school of children is the parents

        • Adil Bentahar

          I do concur. Parents [especially the mother] are the best school, but that school can barely function if the environment is not cooperative and supportive. Thanks for sharing your view. Adil

      • Adil Bentahar

        Well, thanks for sharing. My point in the article targets a few factors, and by no means did I say it was a comprehensive perspective. Thanks for sharing. I agree, all other stakeholders are responsible, too.

  • zakaria ait talbi

    Morocco is not an emerging democracy as you have just said in one of your comments.It’s an underdeveloped nation where the king monopolises wealth and power and is as a totalitarian ruler.In fact,any reform in the state school educational system would pose a threat to the status quo that’s why decision makers in Rabat are trying by all the means that they have to weaken the Moroccan school and create a chasm between the proletariat and the upper class .

    • Adil Bentahar

      Thanks Zakaria for your comment. I do not want to delve into politics, although everything that happens in a country is part of politics. Morocco is thought of as an emerging country, according to some readings I have done. In fact, there are always challenges, but looking at the political arena in Morocco, we have a newly elected government, a new culture is being implemented, hopefully a culture of marrying responsibility with evaluation/sentencing. There is a newly elected party leading the government, a party that had always been in the opposition. I respect your point, but for me I want to be positive and give these new leaders a chance to make the changes they promised. Only then I can judge and see what has happened to the staus quo and what accomplishments or failures there are. Yes Morocco is not a developed country, but we should also be appreciative of what we have AND continue to seek perfection and progess. I’m with you that we need a lot of reforms, but perhaps we should contribute to that development with a positive attitide and hopeful vision, not necessarily criticism ONLY. Thanks again.

      • zionist murder children

        Let us be honest in our dialogue. There is no new government controlling ANYTHING. It is all window dressing. The same people that have called the shots in Morocco for the past 100 years continue to call the shots – they have their representative in Morocco who continues to do their bidding. Once we get rid of the French and other neo-colonial interests and have leaders that represent the interests of Morocco – then the dialogue can truly begin.

        • Sara keen

          To Adil Bentahar, I disagree with you that moroccan dialect should be taught in schools. First of all, it’s just a dialect and not a language. Secondly, French still needs to be studied so that students can study sciences, medicine etc. Studying moroccan will in no way prepare or assist any student in acquiring these professions in which at least some people in every society need to acquire. We certainly being muslims can’t neglect arabic. In fact it should be promoted so muslims can gain a better understanding of why we are here in addition to understanding the Quran and sharia which should muslims need to turn to for guidance. As for English, it is important but unfortunately not essential. In fact one can survive in morocco with French only. English is ONLY DESIRABLE in a few occupations except if someone would teach English. Amazigh? It’s not vital ! It’s a sensitive topic. I myself are n either Arab nor Amazigh. So I don’t have affiliations. I as a Muslim don’t feel that it should be imposed on everyone. Maybe can be taught in primary school instead if English. Students can be then given a choice between it and English in upper grades.

          • Adil Bentahar

            Sara,
            Let me first thank you for your sharing your views. I wonder where and when I have mentioned or spoken about Amazighiya or the uselessness of languages! At any rate, I believe languages a important to learn if a government can afford that. Despite several defects in Moroccan education, we should be thankful to Morocco for offering languages, which is a plus in ones resume when you travel abroad or apply to graduate schools abroad. Moroccans are fortunate to have learned French too. English especially is an ineluctable need for me, because it is now the language of science and academia internationally.

        • Adil Bentahar

          You may have a point the. I agree that the system in education for example is corrupted, and the law should rule and be applied to every person involved with corruption , whatever their contacts or affiliations are.

      • rabi jahid

        i am so thankful to see some one like your self bringing ideas,because all we do us moroccans is complaint and that’s not helping so thank you for sharing….

        • Adil Bentahar

          Thanks Rabi. Yes, we need to talk about things ad share thoughts and perspectives. Taking a step back and watching do not add anything. Thanks.

    • rabi jahid

      yes indeed it is an emerging democracy but it’s a moroccan one and i like it,just step by step, i am not going to import it, it has to come from within, and by the way stop blaming the king it’s getting really old try to find something new,we as a citizens need to come up with solutions,adil came up with ideas not complaints so please bring something to the table for sake of the homeland,,,thanks

      • Adil Bentahar

        Rabi, I appreciate you genuine thoughts. I agree that we should stop complaining and try interesting contributions to better understand the realities in Morocco and hopefully help come up with solutions. Most importantly, we should be proud of Morocco despite the many things we disapprove of. Thanks.

    • Grimm Warden

      Its more somewhere in the middle in all honesty.

      • Adil Bentahar

        In the middle of what or where? Please tell us more.

  • Adil Bentahar

    PS. Apologies about leaving ‘a’ before the word ‘dilemmatic’. Adil Bentahar

  • Asmer Mouhssine

    it really is the truth, the educational system in Morocco can be described in only one word “Fiasco”

    • Adil Bentahar

      I’d like to make a point here. My elucidation of a few issues hindering the Moroccan educational system was not meant for blind criticism. It emanated from a genuine care and much respect for my dear country, Morocco, that I admire immensely. As a Moroccan, I do pride myself on my academic background which is a result and product of that same educational system. There are potential and noteworthy facets in the system that need sustainability (e.g. education is free). However, there are still issues that need total eradication and change; the latter impediments are especially change in the mindset of some, I say some, people who have been ‘put’/placed in decision-making positions without necessarily being a good fit, match, or worse, an interest in/passion forserving in those positions.

      • branaw

        Hi there.the happiness and zeal with which we stepped into the classroom the very first day were beyond imagination.We were highly motivated to the extent that we wished we could work day and night to keep that paradize and its young dwellers in an ongoing positive process. On the other hand, we started from that moment to hear about reform of education, which we could not understand.But there was a big question that was being formed in our novice minds, telling us that there was something wrong about the education in the country. In the course of the years, we kept hearing the same speech every where and on the lips of everyone,but noone apparently has done something to reflect their good intention.Sometimes, it seems to you that the plain fact is that no one wants reform and everyone wants to talk about it…With very simple remarks that most teachers might have noticed starting from very indifferent students…no participation,no copy/books, no homework, only restless shapes….to more indifferent administration staff calling all the time for student’s interest, not knowing where does it lie…to supervisors who visit teachers once for four or five years…There is in fact too much to be said about that, but let me end this by saying that only the conscience of many teachers is at play, and as far as this conscience is alive we are not afraid that things are going to be worse.

    • Real me

      To Asmer:
      I think that there is always hope. The picture is not not entirely dark.

  • Mouhssine Asmer

    I do agree with what you said there ! I could see that you were not criticizing that
    educational system, It is quite clear-crystal clear- that in a vague sort of
    way blaming some unworthy faces placed in positions they should not occupy. I
    know there are good people who do their tasks as they should be done. They do
    fight and struggle to improve this system, to prepare a new and good generation
    for the future, but those people get silenced and suppressed by the other “noteworthy
    faces”, all this is true. But here again
    I go back to the idea that those who really work from the bottom of their
    hearts, do their jobs honestly and in the way as it should be –those people who
    are silenced- form a minority. Because even within those who work for the sake
    of improving their countries, there are people who get led astray, chose the
    side of those noteworthy faces, they do get corrupted themselves.

    Here again
    I don’t blame the educational system alone, because as mentioned in the article,
    nowadays families and parents of the students, do not do their task too, in
    asking for what their children do when they come to school? what are their
    points of weakness and strength? what should be done to help them?, they never
    have a talk with their children’s professors , they do not ask about the
    professors themselves, the administration, “they do not help”. And students
    themselves should be blamed. Can we compare nowadays students to the students
    of your era and the olden eras? I fear my answer would be no, nowadays students
    don’t resemble to students at all, (well just a few do), they are like coming to
    school just to waist their time, to mock the teachers, but in fact they do mock
    themselves. And that’s what makes the E.S in MA a total apocalypse .

    The only thing
    I can add is –and here I am going to quote from one ex teacher of mine who said”
    You don’t wanna hire someone smarter than you”. ..

  • mohamed

    good luck Adil

    • Adil Bentahar

      Thank you Mohamed!

  • Said Sajed

    Calling the education system a Fiasco is a start. where are our oulama that can really make a change and be bold about it. Well you find them outside the country making other countries great.
    following the french system had been a disaster, i still remember my dad who was a teacher in the early seventies where it was considered a golden Age. A teacher felt like he was doing something worthwhile and they had a good curriculum then, late seventies that dream faded into darkness.the french language lobby won the day. They say we deserve our leaders, i say only if we elect them we do deserve them. everything in Morocco went to the unelected and the opportunistic. It is no mere coincidence that the fassis were the elite and they have their family members all over the pie. Nobody voted for these so called leaders it was nepotism through and through.
    I am moroccan i feel moroccan but i feel i was robbed from my arabic heritage by my leaders, i want the best for our children back in Morocco. Can we just get our thinkers back into the fold and give them their rightful places right at the top of the government. Our Oulama are desperate to lead but nobody will let them.

    • Adil Bentahar

      Said, I see your point about the importance of getting the Ulamas [scholars] involved in the decision-making process. I also identify with you that we want our country better, but we need to be positive and hopeful, all while still acting and contributing to that hoped-for change, in whatever capacities we are. We don’t have to be THE leaders to foster that change in the Moroccan society. Start where you are, either in or abroad. Thanks for sharing. Adil

  • Mohammed Chadi

    As a change agent, I do believe that change can not occur unless all the key stakeholders are actively involved in the process. History and education school improvement intiatives across the board have unequivocally proved the limitations of the change projects driven from the top. Education reform drivers still believe that people are at the bottom along with those in the middle are not competent enough to be consulted when it comes to issues related to strategic planning and vision building. This outmoded outlook to the very notion of change is annoyingly prevalent and dominates most of the world educational landscapes especially in MENA region.

    Morocco is not an exception for education is affected by the dominant leadership style that characterises public organisations and which reflects the macro political, cultural and social policy of the governing regime.

    The education system in Morocco is shackled by a myriad of processes that are invisible to the layman for they take different forms and are meant to perpetuate the status quo at all levels. You cannot address this issue without throwing on the table all the macro issues related to it. Changing the current situation requires:

    1. Ensuring that all Moroccans are equal and henceforth have the right to quality
    education.
    2. Integrating ethics and social values in school curriculums to help Moroccan
    citizens regain belief in universal values such as hard work, civic manners,
    self-dignity, self-confidence etc..
    3. developing a well-articulated vision for change and communicate it to all
    stakeholders.
    4. Involving everybody in the change process.

    This cannot happen when you see that people leading the country have no idea whatever about leadership. You cannot lead a country to change when you are keen on being seen on TV screens donating food stuff to the needy.

    • Adil Bentahar

      Dear Mohamed,
      I appreciate the way you have analyzed the issue. Yes, I also think those people in power need to consider education as a priority in a very pragmatic, concrete fashion, instead of talking too much. I agree that in Morocco education is not really a priority. You can easily tell from the budgets that the governments or parliament have allocated to education, while other sectors, of less importance, enjoy huge millions of Dhs.

  • http://www.facebook.com/tom.ledford2 Tom Ledford

    Rather than figure out how to make changes, it might be good to come to some kind of agreement about what changes are desirable. Maybe you could set up a representative group to write some proposals. Here in the United States our schools are constantly in political struggle with various interests, because whoever controls education will control a nation’s future. It is only in the last 70 years or so that we have had any national consolidation of control. Before then education was considered to be a local, not a national, matter. We have traditionally been afraid of an overly strong central (federal) government. I agree with that point of view and like to support local options and not centralization.

    • Adil Bentahar

      Tom:
      You have a point when you suggest forming a committee for drafting those changes and making them happen. One of the points tacitly highlighted in te article is that teachers’ voice rarely matters. That’s why what I am saying is that it would probably be expedient if the head of the Department of Education in Morocco receive teachers’ input before implementing those changes. Or, they can even pilot some curricula and initiative before imposing them on all Morocco schools. Not all suggestions/reforms have been successful. Sometimnes it only meant wasting millions of dirhams vainly.

  • a real african

    Education and the
    Invention of Zero

    In
    the middle of sixteenth century, Americans became aware of the importance of
    education; hence, they established grammar schools, in every town contains more
    than fifty families, to prepare students for colleges and universities and a
    number of them emerged during this period such as Yale, Colombia, and Harvard.
    To pursue this mission, puritans and pilgrims brought and imported a good deal of
    books from England. They considered, at that moment, that only through books
    and education the success with be achieved. Indeed, they were right and still.
    Now as it is blatant and nobody can deny the fact that U.S.A is on the top in
    different terms. To make progress, we should follow others’ steps and stop
    thinking about our ancestors’ deeds and being proud of the dead things.

    Surfing the Facebook website, I
    come across some posts and comments that indicate and praise our ancestor’s achievement.
    This doesn’t mean that I’m not proud of what they did, but let’s remember them
    and utter them in an appropriate context, not when we get astonished with an unbelievable
    present achievement. I really get upset when I hear a man says “let them do
    whatever they do but we were the first to work on math” ( illustrating by
    Alkhawarizmi and his invention of Zero). We invented it and stay in it unable
    to get out of it. Once I could remember when I was attending a Friday lecture
    (aLjomo’a lecture), the Faqih was talking about the achievements of others. He
    said “let them do whatever they can we are going to die”. Somehow he discouraged
    us to work and think in the long run, but who cares all of them were nodding
    their heads as a sign of understanding and agreement while they really
    understand nothing. They were illiterate employees; they are excused. Also I
    could remember an Islamic teacher when he was forcing us to attend the Friday
    lecture. We were studying the subject on Friday afternoon. As soon as we enter
    the classroom, he asks a question which I will never forget “did you go to the
    mosque to attend the lecture” if the answer is positive, he says sit on the
    right line; but if it is negative, we have to sit on the left. Then he gives
    his last statement “those who sit on the right are going to heaven and those
    who sit on the left are going to hell. Some of us used to lie but he asks about
    what the lecture was about. Sometime I wish to go back to that classroom with
    the current brain to tell him are you GOD to decide who is going to hell?

    I can’t blame whose who are
    disable to get along but just escaping into the world of imaginations and
    metaphysic to bring the past to the present and to be proud of it. They usually
    talk with a loud voice about the battles of invasions of other people’s lands
    and getting their baggage and their women and girls to have sex with. I just
    imagine how on earth can one have tens of women at home and how could him
    sexually satisfy them. Religion gives four females plus slaves and captives.
    It’s so terrible. That’s why the majority of young supported and went to invaded
    others under the flag of religion. In addition to that, when some scientific
    issues are mentioned, there is no space for others to say something. They
    always talk about issues which belong to the past. The stable tense is always
    the past tense. “We had, we did” instead of we are doing and we going to have.
    The reason why I don’t blame or even discuss is my disliking going back to the
    past. I believe in now and future.

    Coming back to the point for
    not to lose in this wider issue, everyone talks about the improvement of
    education, parents, students, teachers, politicians and so on; but none takes
    the initiative to do something, just BLABLA everywhere you go you hear the same
    bullshit words. But who cares, we are not real patriots, we just think about
    our full pockets of money and what to eat for lunch. However, educational
    improvement doesn’t take so much time or effort. We can improve it just if we
    WANT (if they really want). If we have
    good teachers in primary, elementary and high schools the problem is solved. But
    how to have great teachers. This is so easy we have enough graduates and enough
    classrooms where they can be tested. That’s all. The test must be so
    complicated and so professional to qualify them, but how about some
    international exams like TOFEL in English. It‘s reliable. Then we can talk
    about improvement. I’m saying this because all teachers are selected according
    to their university grades. That’s the craziest thing I ever seen for no one
    can deny the fact that those students got false marks, aren’t they? I don’t
    like to fall in generalization but I’m talking about the majority about 99°/°.
    To be treated equally, all graduates must be tested by a reliable exam. Thus,
    we’ll have a good teacher who encourages students to work hard unlike Faqih who
    thinks negatively.

    All in all to develop our country
    we need to start with education. We have to be serious in handling this issue
    which is so important and the only way and road through which we can get on
    instead of wasting a great deal of money and time on trivial things, prowling
    that they care about improving educational system.

    A
    real African

    • Adil Bentahar

      Here are a few thought I was mulling over while reading your comment; thanks by the way for sharing.
      “..we should follow others’ steps and stop thinking about our ancestors’ deeds and being proud of the dead things”. I don”t see how a nation can progress without learning from past experiences and taking lessons from the past; those experiences stabnd for pride that people use in the present to have good self-esteem and keep hoe about a better future. Concerning the instructor who used to divide the class into heaven and hell, I think that is an irresponsible, unprofessional act that certainly gives a wrong idea about what religion is. My understanding of Islam through reading the Coran and approaching the Sunna is that it is a religion of hearts (and deed of course). No one, in whatever capacity, has the right to judge others’ faith. That’s something only God knows. For the TOEFL, first TOEFL is an English-proficiency test; therefore, we cannot shape all Moroccan curricula so that they all test to it, especially that English is JUST one of many other content areas and French has gained more and ore ground in Moroccan education (because of colonization, hence the imporance of of the past in shaping the present and even future, you see?:)). The other thing that I can say, proudly, is that Moroccan educators or EFL teachers score high in TOEFL tests, although in Morocco English is neither the mothertongue nor 1st foreign language, nor is it usually practiced in the Moroccan society. So, that’s an accomplishment when you see Moroccans excell in the States or other English-speaking countries, and there are many, so many successful Moroccans in this regards scattered worldwide in many domains. Again, I will emphasize maintaining a positive attitude, one that builds on what is beautiful in our dear country Morocco, and at the same time seeks improvement and progress instead of blackening everything.

      • Adil Bentahar

        PS. I now feel surprised to have written all those lines in one single comment:)

  • http://www.facebook.com/Joab.Bfab Joab Bfab

    ”Education, complicated, it is just complicated, you won’t understand till you be a teacher” Enquired a teacher. I always raised a question to some of the elementary school teachers about where is their innovative spirit of change and making a difference, their spirit to improve education in their schools. When trying to answer their forheads all wrinkled, and their eyesight blurred, word became heavier as if it was too complicated to answer such a question. Seemingly, their view towards it is a too pessimistic to include any possibility of solving any slightest difficulty that can easily be done if i were in their shoes. (but hey, I am not there yet, I have not been a teacher before, how can I know… ) I cannot deny the fact that this is true, you can’t speak of something not walking for miles in those school yeard shoes. However, Is it not true that there is much to do about Education in Morocco? Is it not true that teachers can definitely do something about it?

    I am quite aware of the many challenges standing in the way of having a solid education system. As you tackled the problem of illetracy in rural areas, that is a humongous problem. Undeniably, parents and families play a significant role in education, helping to teach their children the basics at home. How can this be achieved if the parents are illeterate let alone ”ignorants”. So, I think first thing to do in this department is tackle that problem. It is quite easy, as most of people nowadays start to develope a benevolent spirit. Thus, I want to emphasize the significance of social entrepreneurship which can contribute sublimely to our communities in specefic and country in large. This should be taught, encouraged and facilitated more often.

    Now, to talk about ”methods and materials”, textbooks, teacher aids and equipment. Sometimes I just want to know if they have or have not seen the amount of books a six/five year old kid carries on with him everyday just because the teachers have no agenda of which to teach that day. A kid in his first year to school; bearing in mind that Kindergarten is not something accessible to most of Moroccans. So, I think kindergarten is something should not only be exclusive to private schools but also be integrated in public schools and institutions. Bottom line is that the education syllabus should be reconsidered, reflected on and invesitigated. Moreover, it should not be implicitly taught, but rather explicitly implied in a practical way. Teaching should be seen as something fun; working with some of the kids I volunteered teaching, I really established a fun environement and student interaction, interest and spirit rose dramatically. Attitude matters, teachers should not be passive, they should be active, updated and creative. They should have a solid formation of teaching, they should be teachers. A teaching is never something that anyone can do, you should be born to teach. You should have the ambition and the drive to see results of your work, you should put the learner’s interest before yours, knowing that your job is the most noble profession there can be. Not everyone is cut out to be a teacher. Therefore, a teacher must be aware of all methods and approches of teaching/learning, process and apply. Should also be eclective and careful of chosing wich would suit all other variables involved; learner’s culture, gender, age, environement, context etc…

    I am focusing on the elementary school more than other schools because it is first the one most important to any basic brecks to build on any in the future. I grew up in Morocco, I know how the system works or at least how it is instituted inside classrooms. I have been moving quite a lot between a school to another and I have encountered many teachers, I have seen the good the bad and sometimes a combination of both. Every school was strange, a teacher asked me to bring him ”sfeng” that would be Donuts if we were In america. Sometimes tea. Than he would give me good marks in the test. I did it fast, first I knew it was bad, but a teacher was somebody really BIG, IMPORTANT and somebody I can’t really make eye contact with. I don’t know but this was the case 15 years ago, and still much in the rural areas. And the other would ask about what my father does as a job, are we rich and are we not, was that his car outside etc… He would also ask me to have extra hours etc… A teacher would beat me to hell that I was escaping classes and get frightned to death that I had so many nightmares about. My parents always thaught that he was doing it for my own sake, he was ”teaching”. Unfortunately, this wasn’t just 15 years ago, it is still the way it is because nobody have the guts to say anything about it. I mean not to talk much about because you all know how it is in here, we needn’t really explain it any further. In conclusion, it is the elementary school that need to be put under the scope and watched over. And yes there are much of the things teachers can do about.

    Morocco needs indeed all of that. It enormously need people who sincerely care about it. People who see in every child a chance of a better day, In every chance to help a common place, in every classroom a future leader. It needs people to make hand and hand to help change the changable. The betterment of education can be achieved when government, teachers, members of community combine to study the educational regime in Morocco and seek solid, explicit and most practical solution to get us, every kid with a nightmare find a safe, fertile soil of knowledge acquistition.
    And yes, it is about time to see the Long-Awaited change and a chance in a better Moroccan education.

    Finally, I would love to point out that social change, and the emergence of more new associations, honest entrepreneurs and decision makers should shape the future of the Moroccan education, economy and politics.
    Those teachers I spoke about, and if you (teacher/reader) are one of those whose forheads wrinkle etc…. You gotta stop playing that card and do something about it, you owe that to yourself, to your students, to the community, to your country and to the future of this world.

    • Adil Bentahar

      Hello. I do appreciate your time putting these thoughts in this lengthy comment, though I cannot reply to all the wonders/statements. Thank you. You emphasized elementary education. I too see it so momentous to focus on ensuring good quality of elementary schooling. Many of the challenges facing Moroccan secondary education (middle and high schools) are due to the low or insufficient quality of the pupils’ education. I thought you overemphasized teachers whose ‘foreheads wrinkle’, but perhaps we should also acknowledge those teachers who lavishly invest in their young children’ minds, are creative, and who despite any wrinkles on their foreheads, also display exemplary teaching and serve as role-models. Last but not least, your mention of the elementary teachers who opportunistically expected their kids to brings milk and eggs to class is hardly generalizable. I myself went to public elementary school and no instructor ever asked us to do so. Thanks.

      • http://www.facebook.com/Joab.Bfab Joab Bfab

        Salam,
        I know, I am sure you didn’t grow up in the Rif mountain region of Nador and so on, because that was a teachers ritual there! I still have to deal with those sterotypes of teachers in the region. I think the only thing to fix anything is by ”corrupting” corruption in the Moroccan institutions in general!

        Thank you for the Article by the way, I enormously appreciate it!

        • Adil Bentahar

          Tanks Joab. Yes you’re right. I didn’t grow up in the North; I was raised in Casablanca, but this doesn’t mean I have been there in the North often. I am glad you enjoyed the article. Thanks!

          • http://www.facebook.com/Joab.Bfab Joab Bfab

            (Y)

          • Adil Bentahar

            I am not sure I understand your last comment of ‘Y’. Thanks for explaining. Adil

          • Joab Bfab

            it means thumbs up (Y) Smiley kind of code things. :D

  • Real me

    I have heard from many teachers in the States that some issues related to decision-makers face the American educational system as well.

  • Majid

    Against
    the grain of official discourse on education, education does not occupy
    centre stage in the political agenda of the country. Do we need
    literate citizens and what type of literate citizens do we need?
    Literacy is seen as a danger that threatens
    the stakes of some. What has been the attitude of the state towards
    teachers then and now? Are they a source of trouble or harbingers of
    positive change? Morocco is presumably building a democracy and we
    cannot divorce education from this democratizing process.

    • Adil Bentahar

      These are interesting questions that need deep thinking and full undersdtanding of the present -and past- contexts of education in Morocco. I wish I had answers to all these wonders, but the debate goes on and on. We’ll see where it goes.

    • Adel

      What do you think is the teachers’ attitude toward the Ministry of the National Education? Has it ever changed in the past few decades?

  • Sarah Hebbouch

    Thanks Adil for this insightful article. It touches upon an issue of paramount importance to the people concerned.
    oftentimes I feel that this fluctuating situation in our Moroccan educational system bodes ill. Admittedly, some Moroccan high-ranked officials are engaged in this change, but it seems that we still have unflappable people who don’t place a high premium on this plight that has for so long slapped the sector, thereby immensely hindering the country’s development. Let’s face the truth audaciously: the government has made headway regarding this sector, like providing job opportunities to hundreds of unemployed young people, expanding the pooling of boarding schools for girls who live far away in rural, to cite but a few. Still, some officials are reluctant to embrace any change that comes from any government….If there is anyone to blame, it’s those people who stand as stumbling blocks in the way of change, those “ghost employees” who are on the payroll system, but are actually out of it, those who always blame it on the others and are not willing to admit their complacency.

    • Adil Bentahar

      Thanks Sarah for sharing your viewpoint. As I mentioned in some post, such challenges are also a direct consequence to the stagnating mindsets that want to keep the status quo as it is. These folks may even include inept teachers who do not care about children’ interest. It is true that the government has provided 1000s of college graduates tenured jobs that many others are dreaming about & aspiring for. However, one big issue that the new government has promised to solve is the presence of those ‘ghost’ employees who merely suck and deteriorate the country by doing nothing but still receiving a pay-check monthly. That’s unfair to the unemployed & to our country! It is actually a black spot that we all have to endure. Hopefully, this new government will help bring about at least part of that long-awaited change.

  • ZionistSlayer

    Education is not how a country gets ahead. Weapons. Weapons that can be used as a real deterrent to imperialistic neo-colonial ambitions is the only way a country can move forward. If Morocco had thousands of Missiles hidden in underground missile bunkers and portable trucks all over Morocco loaded up with Biological and Chemical weapons, and these missiles could reach Paris, Madrid, London and DC, The entire world would recognize the Western Sahara as part of Morocco. As it stands, countries without real patriots leading them and without great weapons will always be the slaves of those that have the good weapons.

    • Adil Bentahar

      I am afraid I disagree. First, weapons are not to be used to attack other countries; they should are meant for defense, and only in defense. Second, how can you- as a country- have weapons without solid education, Eben if you rely on buying weapons from other powers, you are still weak, because you-as a nation- are dependent on other countries whose power is a direct consequence of a strong educational system and a productive people with a strong economy (that can ultimately sell you weapons). See? Education remains more important than weapons.

      • ZionistSlayer

        Education is NOT more important. Look at North Korea, Look at Latin America – Countries either need to unite together (unlikely for Arabs – since the Arab league members themselves are actually directly paid by Israel! On the other hand, you can develop your military – only option if Morocco wants to have ANY chance of keeping the Sahara.

  • mourad morocco

    Telematics is the future can creates thousands of jobs.
    Telematics.

    • Adil Bentahar

      Salam Mouad.
      Can you please elaborate on the concept of telematics and how it relates to education in general and that in Morocco in specific? Thanks

      • Adil Bentahar

        Sorry, I meant to type “Mourad” :)

  • Nureddin

    Great insightful contribution. Enough cosmetic reforms. If it is to meet the twin challenges of a rapidly changing world and a revolutionised job market, the Moroccan educational system is in need of total overhaul.

    • Adil Bentahar

      Nureddin, you have brought up another interesting point, that of connecting and making education cater to the needs of the jobmarket.

  • http://twitter.com/Rabat_G5 Morocco

    we don’t even have some value as citizen !!!!
    what kind of value our education system, teach us
    Modernity or Reactionism?

    nothing had been done , at all .

    • Adil Bentahar

      To Morocco: I would say “Before you ask what your country has given you, ask what YOU have done for your Morocco”. Let’s be positive. Challenges are there, but only with work, perseverance, and positive attitude can we, Moroccans, move forward and go far, hopefully. There’s no use crying over spilt milk; let’s act.

  • Maghribona

    Agree with Real me, it is impossible to lay out all challenges but it’s good to read Adil’s views on the topic

    • Adil Bentahar

      Thanks Maghribona (though this is not your real name :)). I am glad my article resonates with you. Pleasure!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004309718815 ???? ????

    It would be really great of we can create an English teacher group who are interested in making a difference in Morocco’s education system. this groups would be just a preliminary step towards a more formal organization whose main objective is to improve education in general and English language teach in particular. I am wholeheartedly dedicated for this cause, so please feel free to contact me for any suggestion: aziad2013@fau.edu

    • Adil Bentahar

      Dear Mohamed, I really appreciate our dedication to making a difference in Morocco through education.

    • Adil Bentahar

      That’s the kind of citizens we need in our dear country, citizens who
      take initiatives with a positive, hopeful attitude and spirit. Keep up!

    • Adil

      Keep up Mohamed.

  • Hind

    Thank you Adil. I am 21 years old and a real Education enthusiast. Obviously I am way less experienced than you are with the Moroccan Education system and throughout this written piece I kept thinking “I want to know more from this guy”. I think that there is a rising awareness among a select few in Morocco about the urgency of fixing the system and I wish if there was platform where people like you and I can- not talk- but meet, plan and do ! Anyway … Thank you very much for such an article. Please keep them coming and keep sharing your experiences.There is so much that people like me can learn from a single article.

    • Adil Bentahar

      Hind, thanks a lot for your kind words. If I have shared these thoughts, it’s only because I cherish and highly value my dear country of Morocco and want to see a better Morocco. And yes, please feel free to email me at: adil.bentahar11@gmail.com

  • Amine Maksi

    when i was in school in morocco , a teacher abused the hell outta me because due to the fact i didnt understand my homework and went the next day without it . now … i didnt let that first time destroy my self respect but after the second time when he grabbed a wire that we use for electricity and swinged it on my left leg ,…. thats when i realized i gotta kick this niggas ass ….. i grabbed him and beat the living hell out of him . after that the school banned me from the school . one day i sneaked in to the school and beat the shit out of him again … and the very next day , i and a bunch of kids throw rocks at his ass and one of the rocks suddenly slammed his head to the point where his head started to bleed . at that moment i never felt so alive and thats when i realized SOMEBODY GOTTA DO SOMETHING ABOUT THIS SHIT !! thats not a way to teach children . there are alternatives to punish someone other than killing him …..for god sake …. why didn’t the king get hit when he went to school ? BECAUSE THE TEACHER KNOWS BETTER WHO NOT TO BE MESING WITH !!!

  • sara

    Why don’t the Moroccan’s follow a similar education system to the British? This would mean that people would be specialists at what they enjoy and what they’re good at too which is good instead of forcing them to take subjects they will not need in the future.They should be provided with options and allow them to study what they like which would encourage them to stay in education.

  • FREEDOM OF SPEECH

    I thought that the situation will get any better but on the contrary the number of hopeless jobless youths incredibly increased. The question is whom to blame?Well, there are a number of contributing factors that leads to the aggravation of the situation such as privatizing of public sectors, corruption, favoritism and more importantly the public education system. while the middle classes and the elite persist sending their children to private french school, the helpless Masses have no choice but attending public schools where their french never get improved. if somebody to blame it will be all the people on power, the big families whose children are born with a gold spoon in their moth. they have to may no effort; their privilege jobs are preserved to them even before they get born. we are also to blame because we encourage the perpetuation of corruption.

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