By Omar Bihmidine
By Omar Bihmidine
Morocco World News
Sidi Ifni, January 2, 2013
Given the fact that Moroccans are so hopeless about their education system to the extent that teachers themselves no longer know where to begin or what to do to make of their students good learners, I believe it would be a great idea for us to learn some lessons from Finnish education system. Finland’s educational system has internationally ranked the top for nearly 40 years now. It is seldom surpassed.
All this must fill us with curiosity to find out about why they are at the top, while we Moroccans are at the bottom. Some of us may say that we are here comparing between two incomparable countries in terms of their education systems. But, rather than comparing, the point here is that Moroccan teachers are invited to learn from the secrets of Finland’s education. Here, comparing can simply serve to make us learn easily and convincingly.
In Finland, teachers are selected from the top 10% of graduates. In Morocco, however, not all teachers have been selected from even the top 60% of graduates, for there is no top quality-based ranking at our worst universities. More than thirty thousand Moroccan graduates have become teachers without passing the entrance exam to the teaching profession.
Most of these teachers have graduated with an average grade, which means that they were not among the top graduates, but rather among the average if not lowest ones.
In reality, only a few Moroccan teachers who entered training centers were selected among the top graduates. Written Exams and oral tests must be the key determinant in hiring the top graduates. Unfortunately, not all today’s teachers in Morocco have passed these exams.
Therefore, how can we expect our education to move forward like that of Finland? At this point, I particularly direct this question to those who do not believe in teachers’ excellence in bettering the education system.
In Finland, 6,600 applicants, for instance, vied for 660 primary school training slots in 2010. What this can imply is that the entrance examination must have been competitive and that the teaching profession is not open to any average graduate as is the case in Morocco. In Finland, “either competent or not” is the policy adopted to select the cream of the cream and to get rid of the graduates that might spoil the quality of their education. Here, in Morocco, the case is totally different. All M.A. holders have been selected for all the high school slots. No vying whatsoever!
As regards the graduates who take the exam, it usually turns out that the entrance exam is not competitive enough. For example, there have been many tests where 300 applicants sit for the exam and 150 of them turn out to succeed. 150 out of 300 represent 50% of success, while 660 out of 6,600 applicants represent 10% of success. All this boils down to the fact that the teaching career in Morocco is a resort for a number of Moroccan graduates, while it is a challenge for a number of Finnish graduates. So, how can our education system move forward if we do not take graduates’ competence and success seriously.
In Finland, teachers are treated as prestigiously as doctors and lawyers. Conversely, our Moroccan society does not give teachers the noble status they used to enjoy. While members of the society tell jokes about teachers and insult them for not teaching students well and for taking away much of the government’s revenues, the government itself impoverishes teachers and send them security officers to silence their demands with batons when they go on strike. Moreover, teachers in Morocco are not paid enough to buy lodging and settle down comfortably. Whereas Moroccan teachers start with 430 euros a month, Finnish teachers start with 2400 euros a month.
In Finland, children rarely take exams or do homework assignments until they are sixteen. Whereas they focus on performance and quality, we Moroccan teachers focus on illusive objectives and quantity. All Moroccan children heading for Moroccan public schools are caught carrying loaded satchels and school bags half their size. In them, children study nearly all basic subjects simultaneously, but towards the end of their primary schooling, they usually fail in most of what they have been taught. Our problem is that our students usually end up being jack of all trades who are master at nothing.
Let us just think of these living languages taught in our classrooms: Arabic, French and English. Nearly all Moroccan children know some phrases and isolated words. But, very few of them are able to speak one of these languages fluently and write in them accurately.
Strange enough, all teachers in Finland must have a Master’s degree. But, this does not mean that Moroccan graduates who are M.A. holders fit the description. In Finland, diplomas are the exact mirror of graduates’ level, whereas in Morocco, diplomas are still doubted since they do not usually reflect the right level of graduates. In addition, in Finland, children do not start school until they turn seven. We may find some of these facts strange, but they are all true. As Moroccan teachers, we must pause, think about these facts, wonder about what is amiss in our own education system and, most importantly, learn something from Finland’s education system, the international leader in this field.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial policy