By Yassine ElKaryani
By Yassine ElKaryani
Morocco World News
New Jersey, January 22, 2012
I have not been surprised to see unemployed Moroccans burn themselves as much as I have been surprised to see the deceiving reactions from a lot of people, including the media. I am trying to understand the unusual reaction, but my retarded mind is not helping me. Today, we are blaming the desperate for his despair. We are blaming the pain on the victim. As much as I am frustrated, I also find it amusing how many people think the Moroccan government has no responsibility in finding jobs for people. It really is amusing!
This takes me back to May 2010 when I attended the Fairleigh Dickinson University’s ceremony and was deceived at the overly optimistic atmosphere. The president of the university spoke, as well as many others. The consensus was that life after graduating is so great and there are many opportunities for everyone. Throughout the ceremony, I was waiting for someone to tell these students the truth: “only 29% of you will find a job related to his field the moment he graduates.” I went home and emailed one of my mentors expressing my concern that universities should start preparing people for the challenge instead of painting this mirage in front of them.
And this was in America, the land where the private sector is so strong, where people do not rely on the government, because they can always get loans to study or to start a business. Everything is possible in America thanks to credit. And compared to Morocco, the lifestyle in America is good: you can be a waiter or gas station worker making almost minimum wage, yet you can afford rent, a car, relatively decent food, sports, and a vacation once a year. That’s America that many Moroccans want to look at!
No, you cannot look at America (or Canada, or Germany…) as a frame of comparison because the two cultures are different. The Moroccan culture is a family-oriented culture whereas the American one is an individualistic culture. What does that mean? It means in America each person relies on herself, whereas in Morocco there is a level on interdependence (I don’t need to tell you this if you’re Moroccan. Look in the mirror, do a quick flashback of your life regardless of your age, and let me know if I am wrong).
Is anything wrong with the Moroccan culture because of this? No. It is fine. And we have to look at solutions to our problems by taking into consideration the shape of the Moroccan culture rather than by doing unfair comparisons with countries where the standard of living is very high.
In Morocco we grew up to believe that if you go to school and get an education, you’re far better off than someone who does not have a degree. You grow up with that hope and attitude. Your family helps you and struggles with you. The government promises you a job and immediate inclusion in the job market after graduation. While you’re growing up, you hear stories about “ghost employees” who get paid without working, and you hear stories about how the son of Foulane -your relative who works for the government- landed a job with a degree lower than the one you will be securing a few years from now. You stay up so many nights, without sleep, to pass your exams because school exams in Morocco never match the content of the lesson the student is taught. You may repeat one year or two at high school or college.
You also turn the TV up and watch people in suits and ties talking about how Morocco is doing so good at integrating its youth, and how the country is evolving. It makes you grow stronger and more confident that you will get to smell some nice flowers after all these years of hard work at school.
Now, you are about to graduate: engineer Mahmoud, or Dr Mahmoud, or simply Mahmoud the educated. Everyone is happy that you graduated. Your dad is blessing you, and your mother as well. You look proud. And now it’s time for the real business. Your father is getting old, and because he was a tailor, he has no retirement benefits, and he has raised you with the hope that you will take over the duties of the family in case he dies.
You’re looking for the flower, but you find a stick on your back hitting you so hard. You look behind you and you see a cop beating you with a club. Yes, a Moroccan cop: a middle school or high school dropout who probably obtained his job because he knows Foulane, whose son landed a great job with a low degree. You feel humiliated.
Your father is sick. You are or supposed to be responsible for a family. You were not raised to pray to God because your school never closed for the Friday prayer. What do you do? You accept any job? What happened to the promises? If you were to accept any job, why did you go for many years of education? Are you stupid? All your hardworking years went wasted?
If you burn yourself because of this, I would not blame you! I would stand by you.
The Moroccan government is absolutely responsible for all this because -besides the empty promises- the Moroccan educational system does not match the demands of the job market. If you cannot find me a job with a degree in Arab literature, do not let me obtain that degree. If there are no jobs for people with PhD’s and Master’s degrees, do not open the university’s door for them.
The number of seats at universities should match the job market expectations. If in 2016 you will be able to employ only X number of new graduates, then you should only admit to universities this year a limited number of students to match the 2016 expectation. The others could go to technical schools, the army, the police, the private sector (for education or employment), or they could start their own small businesses or immigrate.
Example: if in 2016 you will be able to employ only 200 people with a degree in Arab literature and 1000 people with degrees in engineering (assuming that today 5000 students want to earn a degree in Arab literature, and 5000 others want a degree in engineering, and you have the same number of seats available for both degrees), then you should make access to the school of arts more difficult than access to the engineering school and you should limit the number of seats to let’s say 250 for Arab literature and 1200 for engineering.
With this, the costs of higher education will be limited and could be exploited in different areas!
At the end, if one cannot feel other people’s pain, his silence is golden.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial policy.
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