By Omar Bihmidine
By Omar Bihmidine
Morocco World News
Sidi Ifni, April 21, 2012
Several employees at the Ministry of Education have been taken aback by their minister’s circular in which he directed all Moroccan universities to impose strict regulations that will effectively deny public sector employees the right to enroll in a Master program. This decree is unfortunate and exemplifies the minister’s lack of understanding of the real reasons that teachers pursue graduate studies.
It is quite evident that the minister, sitting in his Ivory Tower, is unappreciative of the debilitating effects of the decree. Morocco’s public school teachers command a very humble salary while working with limited resources and overcrowded classrooms. Had the minister experienced the challenges of this noble profession, he would actually motivate teachers to pursue graduate degrees so that they may increase their earnings.
Given that the minister is uninformed about the struggles of Morocco’s teachers, perhaps we could help guide him through the category of teachers who will be effected by the decree. First, there are those who became primary school teachers because they did not have the financial means to pursue a university education after earning their Baccalaureates with distinction. The second category includes those who did not have good enough grades to become primary school teachers and immediately headed for university studies.
We, then, have middle school teachers who have some university schooling, DEUG holders (DEUG=Associate Degree), and who passed the CPR, an entrance exam for middle school teachers. It is worth mentioning that DEUG holders joined the teaching profession not because they were unambitious to pursue a four-year university degree, but because they felt compelled to become teachers at a time when unemployment rates, especially among university graduates, were soaring. As for high school teachers, they are holders of Bachelor degrees, with distinction, and also pursued teaching not as their preferred job, but as a means to avoid joining the growing ranks of unemployed.
Back to the recent decree from the Ministry of Higher Education. While it effectively punishes all public sector teachers, it has a disproportionate effect on teachers who earned Bachelor degrees with distinction as it denies them the right to enroll in graduate studies! At the same time, it rewards mediocrity as it allows Bachelor holders with average grades, who were unable to pass the ENS test to become high school teachers, to pursue their post-graduates studies. We ask Mr. Daoudi, therefore, who is more deserving of the right to pursue higher studies: Bachelor degree holders with average grades or their classmates with superior notes?
Some have tried to justify the minister’s decree by arguing that there will be more teacher absenteeism if teachers are allowed to enroll in graduate studies while also performing their day jobs. There is nothing to substantiate this claim and it remains pure conjecture. I am certain that teachers could find a way to pursue graduate studies after finishing their daily commitments. This is especially true for university teachers who do not have a full weekly load of classes. Has the Ministry ever considered night time courses? Online courses!!!
At a time when Morocco’s educational sector continues to lag behind its Algerian and Tunisian counterparts, and as more and more Moroccan students leave our shores to spend their money studying at Algerian, Tunisian and Egyptian universities, it behooves our good minister to be a vocal advocate for our teachers and push them to pursue graduate and specialized training. I end by sharing with the minister a brilliant statement from John Cotton Dana, who once said, “he who dares to teach must never cease to learn”.
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