Textbook market liberalization and the adoption of different books from one region to another, along with rising prices in the book publishing industry have led to driving up the prices of textbooks in Morocco. The high prices of textbooks have placed a challenge on poor Moroccan families who hardly can afford to buy all new expensive books and school requirements for their children. To escape such demands, some poor families have resorted to alternative means to provide books and other school supplies to their sons and daughters.
In spite of the initiative of the government to provide books and some other school supplies for remote rural areas under the project of 1 Million School Bags, meeting the country’s demands and affordable books for all Moroccan students is still a difficult challenge to the government. Many poor and middle class families have to equip their children with school supplies necessary for a successful school year with their own financial resources; a task that has left many families in desperate situations and with heavy loans.
Some low income and even middle class families resort to bank loans that are advertised by financial institutions during this specific critical period to help ease the burden of high priced books. These families find themselves obliged to take loans from banks regardless of the high interest rates imposed by different financial institutions for the sake of affording school supplies, and other demands of children at the beginning of each school year, including clothes, computers and bikes for those living far from schools. Because of the costly demands of a new school year, such low-income families have to pay it through the nose to afford books for all children in the family, and the suffering gets worse when a family has more than one student.
The beginning of a new school year places a heavy burden on poor families who hardly can afford the basic necessities of life, let alone be able to buy all those books that cost an arm and a leg. Yet, they have to keep their students inside schools even at the expense of the other necessities of family life. Such needy families have recourse to second hand books that furnish the sidewalks of famous streets and public squares known for their daily commercial activities all over Morocco.
The used books are usually half the price of new ones and often are still in good condition. Used book vendors identify with the financial conditions of their costumers and allow them some flexibility, including the exchange of used books for insignificant charges.
Even though impoverished families struggle to provide school supplies for their children, who are usually numerous, children in turn have to cope with the social inequality manifested widely in schools. These students are often subject to symbolic violence on the part of students from well-to-do families who come to school well equipped and elegantly dressed. Unfortunately, only few poor students, who manage to get beyond this social discrimination, succeed in their studies, and others drop out of school because they don’t want to remain a heavy burden on their families.
The increasing demands of school nowadays is indeed a source of concern for many Moroccan families that are left with much pains after each new school year, but when students pass the final exam at the end of the year, all those pains become gains.
Edited by Benjamin Villanti
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