By Halima Ouamouch
By Halima Ouamouch
Casablanca – The democratization process in Morocco faces many challenges related, among others, to a feeble democratic culture and practice and civic engagement.
Without educating the student community –the most vital component of society – on these values and practices, the process will remain slow, fragile and unsustainable. This community can be a reliable agent of change though it suffers from several challenges. Clearly there is a weak political and civic engagement; lack of perspective in terms of career visibility; identity and belonging crisis and over-fascination with Western living standards.
Hence, our democratic deficiency is partially due to the lack of civic values and practices at the grass-root levels. The student community feeds all spheres and contributes consequently to the reproduction of the same underlying values (most of them are not civically-oriented). Unless this community is empowered, Morocco will remain weak and vulnerable. Consequently, mainstreaming civic engagement and democracy values in curriculum and research, along with related decision-making processes and advocacy, is certainly one of the recommended paths toward an open and democratic Moroccan society.
This educational strategy has the potential to create a certain momentum for change towards the mainstreaming of civic engagement and democracy by research and education in Moroccan universities. It is noteworthy that no robust and comprehensive initiative has been undertaken in this direction so far. Even in social sciences teaching affiliations, civic engagement is not systematically incorporated.
It is important to initiate relevant research and develop more synergy between involved actors and final users of inputs. The university will serve as a dynamic source of creative ideas, a space for free interaction and exchange with all stakeholders, and a training and advocacy-based instrument. Also, it will serve as an incubator for innovative ideas, leadership cultivation and civic-oriented initiatives. The use of ICTs as a leverage and platform will make our universities and their policy more inclusive.
It is high time to face and deal with the low rates of participation in the civic life of Morocco in voting, in advocacy, in local grassroots associations, and in other forms of civic engagement that are necessary for the vitality of our democratization process.
By increasing the number of students who understand and are committed to engaging in meaningful civic actions, it will be possible to overcome the current deficient situation.
Moroccan universities are invited to open up on each other regardless of their different specializations, hence reinforcing the interdisciplinary character of their education programs. They will certainly refresh their attractiveness by reorienting their missions and agenda via the incorporation of civic education dimension. If we complain about the crisis, if not failure, of our educational system, I think we need to bring the university down from its ivory tower to embrace a large and active community through service learning and civic engagement-oriented activities.
Halima Ouamouch is Professor of English studies at the University of Hassan II, Casablanca.
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