By Omar Bihmidine
By Omar Bihmidine
Morocco World News
Sidi Ifni, September 23, 2012
In Morocco, society mercilessly speaks behind teachers’ backs and blames them for being mean and tight-fisted. It is now common practice that when teachers are mentioned in daily conversations, they are associated with such epithets more, “too economical than normal”, “mean”, “tight-fisted” and “greedy”. It is also a mystery how many members of Moroccan society carry hatred towards teachers, especially when some of them hold that teachers do not financially benefit local businesses.
Additionally, Moroccan society harshly blames teachers for reducing the government’s general budget. At a time when Moroccan society should give holders of the noble profession a standing ovation, it tarnishes their image and damages their reputation. Before judging teachers whether they are tight-fisted or not, Moroccan society must first bear in mind that the majority of teachers are born to lower-class families. We must be bold enough to admit that the Moroccan government has its own culpability in the complicity of spreading such rumors about teachers.
In earnest, if we happen to ‘scrutinize’ the personal lives of teachers – their working and living conditions – we will feel compelled to pardon their meanness and frugality. Perhaps, we will also feel obliged to pity them for some of their bitter realities. According to many banks in Morocco, the category of people who are deeply indebted with loans are teachers. When teachers conclude to their dismay that their salaries do not usually meet their basic needs, such as owning a house of their own, they cannot help but seek the aid of banks. The latter force teachers to toil harder than before and end up facing the burden of paying interests that seem to never end.
It is crystal clear now why most teachers lead very simple lives. So, why are they blamed for their extreme thriftiness? Instead of pardoning them, we criminalize them by implicitly recommending that they should spend more than they earn or pay their accumulated loans as soon as possible. Being friends of many teachers, I have concluded that many of them still support their families.
Some other teachers share their salaries with their poor parents. Isn’t it then normal that they must be tight-fisted for the sake of making ends meet? Most teachers aren’t tight-fisted because they want to, but because their terrible living conditions force them to. Proof is that most graduates become tight-fisted only after working as teachers and seeing their salaries blown to pieces at the end of every month.
Upon graduation, most teachers are appointed to remote places where they have to pay rent throughout the years they spend there. It is a pity that the Ministry of Education does not remunerate teachers for lodging, and this is why teachers are forced to reserve a part of their salary for rent, a part for their living expenses, a part for their families and the other portion for transportation. Usually, in remote areas, teachers find themselves obliged to commute between their lodging to their places of work. I still remember that my colleagues and I used to spend 20 MAD a day commuting when I worked in Zagora. Such experiences as this make teachers end up leading a frugal life, particularly because they notice that each paycheck they receive vanishes easily. Should society not excuse teachers for their meanness, then?
It is heart-rending that our society indulges in telling jokes about teachers, especially about this trait of thriftiness. We forget that our children, too, listen to these jokes and end up disrespecting teachers for the simple reason that they are tight-fisted. It would be mature of us to consider the reasons why teachers are viewed in this negative light instead of throwing undeserved, denigrating epithets in their faces.
As I mentioned earlier, the policy that the Ministry of Education has followed has taken its roots. No sooner does it reserve meager salaries to teachers and spread rumors about them than they have been turned into good-for-nothing tight-fisted people who negatively impact on Morocco’s economy rather than benefit it. We must admit that it is the Ministry that has made of teachers what they are today: impoverished and denigrated. Isn’t their frugalness then excusable? Surely, it is. Put differently and simply, teachers are tight-fisted in spite of themselves.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial policy