Smara, Morocco – Today, I asked some students to stand in front of their classmates to introduce themselves, talk about their daily routines and what they do in their free times. I was so happy to see some of my students speak in public mainly for those who are just in their first year of studying English.
But what surprised me was that a student said that he could not introduce himself as he didn’t revise his lessons. When I asked him why he didn’t do so, he replied calmly but also in an emotional way, “I will never forgive my primary school teachers, they are the main cause of our deteriorated level today.”
He stopped for a short moment and he carried on saying: “Frankly, they used to let us in the classrooms and then they’d go drink tea and smoke with their colleagues without teaching us. And on the day of the exam they used to answer the questions for the whole classroom on the board or on papers.”
Hearing this shocked me because I have never believed that this would take place in our public schools and that the teachers would be involved in such immoral and unfair behavior. I then turned to all the students and asked them: “Is this right? Did teachers use to give you answers on exam days in primary school?”
Without delay, they all said, “yes, they did”. Then I found myself obliged to keep the door of communication open with my students. I immediately asked them to raise their hands and swear to say the truth as witnesses do and say in courts.
The whole classroom raised their right hands and repeated after me: “I swear to say the truth and nothing but the truth.” After that, I told them to raise their hands if their primary teachers used to answer the questions of the exam for them. The result was unbelievable. Most of the students raised their hands.
I know, some of us would say that this should not be over generalized. I agree. I am against generalizations. But this happens in the primary schools that send students to our middle school. In an attempt to assure myself and dispel doubt, I asked all the classrooms I teach, taking into account that I teach 10 classrooms with nearly 40 students in every classroom.
Most of them agreed that some of their primary teachers on the days of the six grade write answers on the board. They added that they used to be controlled by two teachers: one of them stays near the door to watch for the headmaster, the supervisor, or the delegate of the ministry and the second put answers on the blackboard or on papers for the students.
Some may argue and that we should not believe everything that students say about their former teachers, but as far as this subject and issue is concerned, I am ready to believe my students. These students are ready to talk and say the truth in public because they are today paying the price of having been given marks they did not deserve.
We usually preach that “we should not give them fish; we should rather teach them where to fish.” But for whom are we singing these proverbs and songs? Why would teachers who cheat in their mission, be forgiven by their students, when young people grow up and understand that their teachers were traitors of their responsibilities?
It is a shame to let this behavior continue in our country. I cannot imagine how some primary school teacher teaches without reading or speaking the languages they teach? How do they teach a language they do not speak? And how would their students speak a language they do not learn?
We should change the culture of many teachers in Morocco. The first step towards this change is through professional development and continuous training. Then those who do not respect the regulations and do not work hard should be given a chance to change their sector of work. In brief, let’s change primary school teachers’ culture or change them. The bleeding of our educational system starts from primary schools and the cure should take place there.
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