By Jalal El Mir
By Jalal El Mir
Morocco World News
Oujda, Morocco, May 9, 2012
For the second time this month, a defenseless female teacher was the victim of a brutal attack. Hanane Al Ofayri was assaulted by a parent outside her school and sent to the hospital around the region of Chichaoua (Marrakech-Tansift-Lhaouz). A few weeks ago, a 22 year-old primary school teacher, Khadija Chayeb, lost her left eye when she was struck by a rock thrown by one of her students. Many school teachers are concerned about this alarming and extremely dangerous trend and have gone as far as describing the violence as an open war on educators and teachers in Morocco.
So who is to blame for this phenomenon? Is it unruly students? Is it parents who encourage their children to act violently towards teachers? Last month, Mr. Benkirane, head of the government, strongly denounced the use of violence against teachers and expressed his solidarity and support for the victims. Mr. Benkirane’s words were appreciated by Morocco’s teachers as they demonstrated his commitment to defend the cause of educators, reinforce their value to society and ensure their safety. But while Mr. Benkirane’s comments were significant, he failed to highlight any concrete measures that could be taken to prevent such heinous acts from being repeated.
As a teacher for three years now, I personally experience this struggle daily. Many students have become more aggressive and undisciplined, showing little to no respect towards their teachers and administrators. Indeed, students no longer care about discipline ever since the ministry of education issued a decree in 2008 prohibiting teachers from physically punishing their pupils. Although this was a positive step towards pacifying school surroundings, it was not meant to encourage violence against educators as many students seem to think.
Back in the 1990s when I was still a student, teachers used to have a venerable position within society. We all remember as kids when we tried to hide every time our school teacher was around, not out of fear, but we used to be ashamed of ourselves being caught playing football outside. Unfortunately, those days are long gone by as students come to school barely noticing their teachers, talking loudly and disrespectfully to them and threatening them inside and outside of school. Khadija Chayeb received many threats before the brutal attack on her eye. If those threats had been taken seriously, she wouldn’t have lost half her vision.
Public schools are supposed to represent beacons of knowledge and enlightenment instead of a territory of widespread violence, drugs and delinquency. Our schools must be restored to the safe havens they once were. As the English proverb states, “If you open a school, you close a prison.”
Edited by Hisham El Koustaf
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