Smara, Morocco - The current state of Morocco’s public schools is quite disheartening. As conditions continue to deteriorate, parents, teachers and student s have become hopeless, unmotivated and completely detached.
Smara, Morocco – The current state of Morocco’s public schools is quite disheartening. As conditions continue to deteriorate, parents, teachers and student s have become hopeless, unmotivated and completely detached.
To further complicate matters, schools are run by an administration that is outdated, unskilled, unprofessional, and either unwilling or unable to motivate kids to learn.
In the past, Moroccan public schools produced talented graduates who went on to become the nation’s civil servants, doctors, engineers, teachers, pilots, politicians, and activists. Graduates had a sense of pride and became nationalists who defended Moroccan culture, identity, territory and integrity. Today, Morocco’s public schools, overpopulated and underfunded, seem to produce waves of disillusioned youth who, after two decades of study, find themselves in two categories. There are those who, if lucky enough, take low paying public service positions and spend decades in government bureaucracy until retirement. The other category is the one with low skills and remains unemployed years after completion of their studies.
When diagnosing the malady that plagues Morocco’s public schools, we must start with teachers. As with their counterparts elsewhere, Moroccan public school teacher are grossly underpaid. In addition, they are burdened with teaching in extremely overcrowded classrooms with minimal resources. After a while, teachers begin to feel the absurdity and futility of their work. When reforms were finally ushered, such as the national charter of education and the Education Plan of Urgency, conditions became worse as huge sums of money were spent on studies for improvement with no tangible efforts in the schools and classrooms.
Morocco’s public schools also suffer from structural deformities as contractors cut many corners during the constructions process. In many instances, walls were cracking, bricks were falling and doors and windows were breaking down. Classrooms have been built without basic storage facilities and without any heating or cooling systems.
Sadly, in an effort to maintain local, regional and national standards, students are just passing from one grade to another without mastering basic skills and competencies necessary in higher levels of education. Students have very poor reading and writing skills and use school as a venue for socializing. Some students, at the high school level, are barely able to write their names in a foreign language. Others do not speak any language fluently. Most are unable to write a short paragraph, in Arabic or French, without making spelling or grammatical mistakes.
Under a misguided system of promotion, most students realize that they will be promoted to the next educational level. This is why many are cavalier about their school work and spend little time worrying about homework or exams. This horrible reality is shared by teachers who also become apathetic, knowing that students will eventually be promoted regardless of their educational capabilities.
In order to fulfill “success quotas”, some headmasters have sacrificed quality in education and all they care about is a numbers game. They graduate as many students as possible so that they could inform the Ministry of Education that they have zero failures. This “achievement” helps incompetent and corrupt headmasters to obtain certificates of acknowledgement and promotion.
As far school administration, it is a world dominated by disgruntled former teachers who left the classroom to escape the demands of teaching. The majority of headmasters, especially in primary schools and middle schools, are illiterate people with no communication or administrative skills. As such, they inevitably develop problems with teachers, students and parents.
Morocco’s public schools are archaic institutions in dire need of real change. Once proud institutions for learning, they have become venues populated by hopeless youth who engage in drug abuse, violence, and prostitution. Sadly, several female students, in both middle and high schools, are selling their bodies while their parents think that they are at school. While most are from poor families, they wear expensive clothing, state of the art mobile phones and other material items. One quick glimpse at the luxury cars in front of our public schools should tell you that something bad is taking place.
Losing control of our schools, our teachers and our students is recipe for disaster that will undoubtedly cost us the future of our beloved country. In the spirit of the Arab Spring, we need real change and we need it NOW!
Edited by Hisham El Koustaf