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In Response to Minister Daoudi: Free Education is a Fundamental Right Enshrined in the Constitution

By Omar Bihmdine

Morocco World News

Sidi Ifni, Morocco,, July 26, 2012

It was not long ago when Lacen Daoudi, minister of higher education, issued a circular that stated that Ministry of Education officials are not allowed to pursue their master studies on the grounds that the priority must be given to students. The Minister went a step further when he stated earlier this week that higher education will no longer be free.

From my point of view, I don’t find his declaration shocking, because the minister simply aims at focusing on quality when it comes to higher education. What I rather find horrendous is when this minister does not take into account the circumstances of aspiring students while he defends himself by resorting to the flimsy excuse which is quality.

“It is hard to interest those who have everything in those who have nothing, ” said Helen Keller, an American historical figure. Daoudi and his likes fall under this category. Daoudi has got everything: He has pursued his studies; he has attained the highest positions in the government; he has encouraged his family to continue their studies at all costs. How should we expect this person to be interested in the majority of poor students whose dream is to pursue their studies at university without  obstacles? It is hard as Keller once put it.

Daoudi is so cunning, for whenever he is asked about the his declarations regarding the controversial measures being taken by his Ministry, he begins to prevaricate and comes up with flimsy excuses, such as the fact that circulars must not be interpreted word for word and that higher education is free for the poor students, while it must be paid by the rich students. Isn’t Daoudi yet aware that the majority of Moroccan university students are poor? Isn’t he aware that the majority of university students face financial problems to pay for Xeroxing, let along for their higher education?

If the decision to put an end  to free education is implemented , we will all face a serious chaos at colleges. The faculty administration will find it hard to distinguish the poor who are worthy of free-of-charge education from the rich who aren’t worthy of it. Students will resort to fake certificates that show their poverty. When that time comes, we will end up facing the same problem scholarship beneficiaries are currently facing, as many who deserve grants do not receive them and many who don’t deserve them receive them.

I am afraid this measure will further aggravate the educational system. It is not a matter of either paying or not paying; what is of great significance is interest in education. As long as students, rich or poor, are interested in education, the government must assume the responsibility of providing free-of-charge education. Otherwise, what is the use of the taxes Moroccans pay if they cannot afford to have access  to one of the greatest pillars of our lives which is education.

It goes out without saying that the ministry of higher education has set out to follow this policy so as to prevent teachers too from continuing their higher studies. Here, even teachers find it hard to pay for higher education. Daoudi’s intentions weren’t innocent when he promised to provide free-of-charge education for the poor, simply because this is the first step he had in mind toward eliminating this kind of education at universities once and for all.

Now, we can be sure that as soon as this measure is implemented, there will exist more victims of education. Paying for one’s higher education is a great obstacle for everyone, rich or poor, and we must not forget that education must be free at all costs if we are really determined to move forward as a nation. In earnest, it appears that with the latest decision of putting an end to free education, Lahcen Daoudi is in danger of moving from the frying pan into the fire, given the fact that our education is already deplorable in all respects, and imposing payment on aspiring students and teachers alike will only make it worse.

Instead of making the academic lives of students easier, Doaudi is dashing the hopes of hundreds of thousands from lower income families, whose dream is to pursue their higher studies. I think that his latest decision has come as a reaction to the hot debates over preventing employees of the ministry of education from doing their master studies. Carrying out his first circular must have been one of his ulterior motives behind this latest preposterous decision.

Before it is too late and before this decision becomes irrevocable, it is now incumbent on all aspiring students and teachers to fight for their fundamental right to have free access to higher education. It is high time we took action, especially that we are already on the eve of a new academic year and that Benmssik University in Casablanca, has already implemented the first circular which prevents teachers from pursuing their higher education.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial policy

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