By Siham AliRabat- March 23, 2013
By Siham Ali
Rabat- March 23, 2013
Moroccan parliamentarians summoned the education minister to answer questions about Tamazight integration, private education and violence in schools.
In regards to teaching Tamazight, Socialist Union of Popular Forces (USFP) parliamentarian Rachida Benmasoud pointed out during the March 6th session that the constitution established Tamazight as an official language.
But mainstreaming it in schools has been slow, despite plans laid out by the government.
According to Benmasoud, education officials must make an objective report of the situation and take the necessary measures to promote its teaching.
Education Minister Mohamed El Ouafa was confident, saying that choosing to implement Tamazight in schools was irreversible and that it was instituted by the constitution.
The ministry set the goal of having one million students sign up for Tamazight classes, doubling its 2012 numbers. El Ouafa noted that 5,000 teachers were trained to teach the subject.
But in private schools, this kind of training hardly exists. But the education ministry intends to introduce a law that makes teaching Tamazight mandatory in private schools.
Sociologist Samira Kassimi noted that in order to implement Tamazight, you need to lessen the burden of the school curriculum.
“Nowadays, whether we’re talking about primary or secondary education, there are too many subjects,” she said.
Parliamentarians were also critical of private schools.
“Private education, which has become a complement to public education, is dealing with several issues,” Deputy Mohamed Hanine said.
The quality of teaching in several private schools leaves much to be desired and that numerous schools have become “a commercial marketplace”, he added.
“You must not generalise. Several private schools have proven their efficiency. Despite the problems, parents prefer to put their kids in private schools because they don’t trust public schools,” Hanine said, while asking the ministry to take a closer look at the sector.
The minister acknowledged that private education has been struggling with problems such as a weakness in the area of trained human resources, and announced a training program of 7,000 private teachers to address the issue.
He added that the role of private schools was of the utmost importance and that the government was closely monitoring the situation.
Othmane Faridi sends his two children to private school. “I pay 3,000 dirhams per month to have my children in private school. It takes up almost half of my salary. But I don’t have a choice because public schools are having a hard time establishing themselves,” he said.
He added that not only do public schools have a bad reputation as far as education goes but they also suffer from violence.
“School is supposed to educate and save young people from delinquency. But we are seeing violence striking in schools. We need to bring people together and stop the bleeding,” MP Bouchra Berijal said.
El Ouafa noted that considerable efforts had been made with the establishment of a partnership between national security in cities and the Gendarmerie Royale in rural areas. They will be responsible for the protection around the schools.
Counselling centres have been set up at schools to deal violence, he added. But the minister admitted that the work done by these centres weren’t enough due to the lack of psychology specialists and social workers.
The centres, however, will not be enough because students need to be supervised by specialists, Kassimi said.