By Omar Bihmidine
By Omar Bihmidine
Morocco World News
Sidi Ifni, December 28, 2012
Whenever I describe the conditions under which Moroccan teachers work as gloomy and bleak, some people respond to me by pointing out that teachers on the contrary work comfortably and safely. Yet, no sooner does the Moroccan media report about a teacher being attacked by a student than we begin to pity teachers, saying “Oh, how poor teachers are!” Recently, a teacher in Sale was violently and severely injured on the neck with a sharp knife by his student. In earnest, this incident, among countless others, gives us the impression that teachers are in jeopardy and that public schools are not protected enough from such extremely violent students.
Abdelilah Benkirane, Morocco’s head of the government, warned against violence at school many times during his speeches. But, his warning has come to no fruition. As the phenomenon grows incredibly rampant, especially in cities, many teachers are calling for the necessary measures to put an end to the risks Moroccan teachers encounter while serving their noble profession.
What even makes the phenomenon grow non-stop is the nonchalance the government shows towards teachers. Still aggravating is the fact that teachers are not safe, not only inside the four walls of the classroom, but also outside the classroom where students threaten teachers and taunt them.
Undoubtedly, there are many causes behind this phenomenon, one of which is the attitude held by both the government and the society towards teachers. Unlike in the past, teachers are now looked upon as opportunistic, stingy, good for nothing, burdensome and all the negative epithets one can think of. In reality, this does not mean that teachers from other parts of the world are born so or treated in the same manner. In Morocco, this policy of spreading rumors about teachers and telling jokes about them is now common both among Moroccans and high-ranking officials.
Needless to say, in remote villages, the position of teacher is still held in high regard. Most pitying of all is that the government itself is some way or another aiding and abetting this policy.
Let us be more realistic about the issue. Whether reported or not, a number of violence cases are witnessed in our schools every day. Mohamed El Ouafa who sometimes prides himself on the quality of the public schools has not yet thought of reforming the bleak atmosphere of many schools. Last year, a female teacher went partially blind after a student hit one of her eyes with a stone. Here, the crux of the matter is that the Ministry of Education does not take petty violence cases seriously on the basis that teachers have to deal with students at all costs. What happens later is that the petty violence grows into a more serious form that is usually too late to restrain. In frankness, this is what is going on in our schools nowadays.
Very few functionaries cry out against this spreading phenomenon. Every time students grow disruptive in the classroom, the Ministry of Education instantly puts the blame on teachers, not on students, particularly that teachers, according to teacher trainers, must be well trained and well equipped with pedagogical tools to face the looming disruptive behavior. Put more plainly, teachers must also serve the roles of psychologist and father in educating children. No one would disagree with this if we are blessed with the French or Finnish education system where measures are taken against violence and a society where parents listen with much respect to teachers.
In Morocco, however, the case is totally different. Just think of serious invigilators during the Baccalaureate exam and how many of them have been violently attacked and insulted harshly outside schools. Here, teachers are discouraged from being so conscientious as to apply pedagogical rules to the letter and to give students the marks they deserve. As the invigilators during last year’s Baccalaureate exams, we were advised by some education officials not to watch over students strictly for fear that they may assault us once we are outside. As you might all know, this still is true of many public schools in Layoune and Dakhla in particular.
At this point, we must remind ourselves that violence at school worsens the quality of education. When students are caught red handed while cheating and then nothing is done as a punishment, this must mean either that students are more powerful than their teachers or that teachers prioritize their safety over their conscience. Safety at work is inestimable, and without it, giving lectures on the latest teaching methodology will be of no value. At a time when the government has not guaranteed ample safety for teachers, teachers continue to suffer.
Among the shortcomings of the Ministry of Education is that it does not consider the ramifications of disruptive behavior at school. One of the ramifications is that one disruptive student can prevent forty students in class from learning. Hence, our education system will still lie on its death bed as long as violence is still common-place in our schools.
It is true that violence exists everywhere in the world. But the difference between Morocco and France or Finland is that Moroccan teachers feel that they are in danger, for they are not protected and that Finnish and French teachers work comfortably, for they know that their Ministries of Education hold urgent meetings in the case of a student’s slap on teachers’ cheeks, let alone when a teacher’s neck is cut with a knife.
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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