By Siham Ali
By Siham Ali
Rabat, February 10, 2012
As part of sweeping reform plans to improve Morocco’s competitiveness, the government of Abdelilah Benkirane intends to overhaul the education sector, improving state schools and universities.
According to the prime minister, the work will revolve around governance and the quality of the education system, which needs to recover its teaching credentials. Attention will be paid to improving employment conditions for teachers, while increasing accountability.
The government has promised to give schools greater independence in management and decision-making, ensuring they have the resources they need.
“This will enable teaching staff and school managers to be more motivated, bearing greater responsibility for results achieved,” Benkirane explained.
Educational establishments will be assessed from time to time, to measure the results and achievements and address shortcomings. Every school will need to set up its own teaching programme to suit the local situation, albeit based on the national programme.
Curricula will also be rewritten. The government will monitor how teaching programmes are progressing and make changes according to any weaknesses found. The teaching of languages will be improved. Over recent years there has been evidence of a drop off in achievement in these subjects, which has had negative repercussions for candidates’ chances in the labour market.
Improved career guidance is another key element of the programme to steer pupils and students into suitable courses, particularly those demanded by employers.
The Tayssir programme is to be rolled out nationally in an effort to prevent school drop-outs, which officially number 300,000 students a year. The project consists of providing direct financial help to poor households, provided their children attend school.
The head of the government also promised to fight negative aspects within schools such as violence, drug abuse and sexual harassment.
In higher education, greater attention will be paid to preparatory classes for the “grandes écoles”. The university offering will be updated to meet the need for senior managers in society and the economy. Teaching will be improved, both in terms of quality and quantity. New specialist universities are planned, particularly in medicine and engineering, as well as law colleges.
The reforms will aim to improve students’ skills in languages and new technologies, while introducing them to business culture. A national quality and assessment organisation will be set up by 2013/2014, along with a national observatory whose task it will be to adjust higher education to the needs of the labour market.
According to Higher Education Minister Lahcen Daoudi, the business community must be involved in supporting the reforms. He said it was necessary to use businesses’ financial resources for 30 to 40% of his department’s annual budget. In particular, the telecoms companies could support research.
Schools should not just be creating a society which has knowledge, but that it should be possible to translate that knowledge into a profession, according to Abdelhafid Fahmi, director of the Moroccan Centre for Employment Research.
“Young people need direction, and we must ensure they receive better information about the programmes planned for them,” he said.
Training is the top solution for promoting employment, explained Hamad Kassal, the former chairman of the SME-SMI federation at the General Confederation of Moroccan Business (CGEM). He said that new jobs such as accounting and off-shoring were suffering from a skills shortage, which means that training has to adapt to meet the needs of the labour market.