By Brahim Koulila
By Brahim Koulila
Kenitra – Morocco, like most developing countries, has always been mired in all sorts of social, economic and political problems. Every time a new government comes, we start calling for reform, social justice, transparency and so forth. However, every time we get disappointed and start from zero. Such a situation has sort of been our destiny so that a large number of Moroccans have really become pessimistic about Morocco’s future.
Doubtless, there are some people (politicians) who have good wills and are willing to push this country forward, but given some radical obstacles, such as Morocco’s bad educational system, it sounds rather hard, if not impossible, to achieve real change or development. Indeed, most of our problems are the results, aside from political corruption, of our weak education system. A radical reconsideration of Morocco’s system of education is a sine qua non of Morocco’s development.
First, let us see what good education has given the West, which, regardless of the current economic crisis, still enjoys prosperity at many levels.
Good education has enabled European countries and North America to be industrial countries par excellence: almost all the European Union members, not to mention the U.S. and Canada, have good industry, which comparatively allows them to deal with the problems of unemployment and poverty quite comfortably. Industry means exporting products – not any products but cars, planes, gadgets, etc.–, and this means making money and assimilating the surplus of unemployed people in the country. Also, thanks to developed countries’ know-how, they have been able to import raw materials at incredibly low prices and export products at rather high prices, and this is the secret behind all developed countries’ economic power.
Good education is the secret behind the democracy that the West has been known for: the more educated a nation is, the more it heads for democracy and social justice. Good education has made the West dominate the world because it has political, economic and, above all, military power. Incidentally, the United States of America could not be that powerful and “self-confident” if it did not have such factors of power as a strong army, a powerful economy – though it has been getting weak recently– , and especially the know-how, almost at all levels. This country, in particular, has benefited from the brain drain of professionals from abroad, not to mention that it encourages scientific research. Good education has made it “the policeman” of the world.
I always laugh when I hear some people say, “The Europeans and Americans are more intelligent than us.” Of course, they are in a sense, but their power lies in their pursuit of knowledge and hard work, no more no less. In other words, it is not a genetic difference that makes some nations far more developed than others, but knowledge and the way of thinking.
When a nation has good education, it flourishes. Well-educated people become engineers, doctors, technicians, (competent) teachers, scholars, “heavyweight” scientists… No economy can be as strong as the EU’s or America’s without good and diversified industry, and the latter cannot be strong unless there are brilliant people. Of course, the latter cannot exist without good education. In other words, a nation’s destiny lies in the quality of its education. Doubtless, this is the problem of Morocco.
Morocco’s economy is too weak. Apart from the revenues of tourism, agriculture, which cannot in any way be compared to Canada’s or the European Union’s, and phosphates, Morocco has no prosperous industry worth speaking of. As such, it has always been classified among poor countries. This is so (no good industry) because, as we all know, our state has always turned a blind eye to scientific research, which is a prerequisite for any industrial activity: the budget assigned to scientific research in Morocco’s institutes and universities is the best proof. I would not say we do not have good engineers, technicians or whatever; of course, we do, but how many? Do they work in environments conducive to doing research? Do they receive the necessary support they need to work comfortably?
Morocco’s bad educational system is the cause of its being a non-industrial country. Most of the competencies that graduate from our institutes and universities every year work in bad circumstances, immigrate to Canada or Europe (brain drain) or work in domains far from their specialties. As for the majority of Moroccan graduates, it goes without saying that they do not have the necessary skills to be able to contribute to the development of this country in an effective way. It is a pity, but it is the truth. Such a situation has always been alarming. But so far no concrete measures have been taken in this regard—radically reforming the educational system.
Unemployment is tightly related to bad education. There are thousands of Moroccan high-degree holders roaming in the streets looking for jobs. Are all these people unemployed because of political corruption? Some of them, to some extent, are. However, I strongly believe, that many among them did not get the education that can qualify them to invade the job market and assert themselves.
To illustrate, what can a person holding a B.A., say in Islamic studies, Arabic studies or geography, do if he or she does not master any foreign language – this is a reality that no one can deny– and does not have any computer skills? Sure, job opportunities are very rare for such people, who make up the majority of Moroccan university graduates. Indeed, apart from the graduates of high institutes, most of Moroccan universities produce people that I would call “handicapped” because of the low skills they have. I am not blaming these students, nor am I lording it over them. I am just trying to shed light on a glaring problem in our educational system, because: ironically, the majors available at Moroccan universities are sort of incompatible with the needs of the job market.
What can we expect from a high-school diploma holder who speaks no language– including standard/classical Arabic– correctly, who has no world knowledge and who has no high grades that can help him go to high institutes? Such people often suffer and end up doing some indecent jobs. Ironically, some of them go to university just to “hide” there for some time or to satisfy their parents. Deep down, they know they will not make it there.
The state cannot assimilate the rather high number of unemployed people because it does not have enough projects. When a state does not have a good educational system, it means it has no good industry, which often yields a huge number of unemployed people. Clearly, in a country like Morocco, when there is no industry, poverty makes its way into people’s lives, and this can even have a negative impact on the political scene.
There is too much political corruption in the Moroccan political scene. For many years, a certain élite of politicians has been controlling everything in Morocco. This is so because a very large portion of Moroccans are illiterate. As such, it has been easy for some people to manipulate the majority of Moroccans, simply because they are “educated”. I often wonder how those people living in far off areas could contribute to improving the political life, knowing that only a tiny minority of their children make it to high school.
It is worth mentioning that much of Morocco’s land is made of rural areas, and we all know how life is there: no schools – apart from in some few villages–, no hospitals, no libraries and so forth. As such, hundreds of thousands of people in these areas are sort of detached from daily political issues in Morocco, which gives way to corrupt people to do whatever they like.
Our government must give more importance to children in rural areas to help them go to school. In this respect, there must be strict programs that have short and long term objectives. Since they represent a substantial category of Morocco’s children, Morocco will not advance if they remain neglected.
The bottom line is that we need a deep change in our educational system. We need to put programs – from primary school to university—that aim at producing highly-skilled people able to serve their community effectively. The Moroccan government should make scientific research one of its most priorities, for the economy is closely related to it. We must produce generations aware of their duties and rights, and this can only be done through good education.
Without a radical educational revolution, we will never be able to bolster our economy, which means poverty will remain the destiny of millions of Moroccans. As such, there will always be social problems, such as poverty, child labor, human trafficking, among others. As for political life, reconsidering our educational system could solve many political problems in Morocco, in particular corruption.
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