By Majid Dardour
By Majid Dardour
Rabat – We have always understood that education is the basic element in any country’s development. It comes on the top of the list when it comes to the factors affecting the development and advancement of a given country. “Ask me my three main priorities for government, and I tell you: education, education, education” Tony Blair, 1997. Education is the sector that should be given more interest in order to lead the government forward, as Blair stressed. The situation of Moroccan education is unsatisfactory. In spite of many reforms since 1956, there is no tangible change as had been expected by Moroccans. The failure of our educational reform is due to many variables that can either be linked to students, curriculum designers, teachers, policy makers or parents.
Students’ performance is not always at its best. I witnessed many cases of students who keep bouncing from one exam to another until they graduate from University with theoretical knowledge that never translates into skills to match the needs of the labor market. Add to this that the results of the learners in standardized national/regional tests. Also, students’ achievement in universities shows that our learners are far away from improvement. Actually, the emergency plan and the LMD system (License, Master, and Doctorate) brought no fruitful result that had been expected by the whole nation; rather they brought a huge number of graduates.
Sometimes, teachers can play a major role in the progress of education. They may either affect education positively or negatively. Unfortunately, some teachers still believe that their task is to fill the mind of students with information and ideas. That is not the objective of education, today. Students do not care much about what a teacher knows or has; rather, they are interested in how a teacher treats and teaches them.
For an effective teaching, a teacher should open the venues of communication with his/her students to know their feelings, ideas and even their problems. The ideas and opinions of students should not be disdained and rejected. Students should be given the chance to choose the material they need and the way of learning they like. Students are different. The teachers should take into account that they have different profiles within classroom; that is why they have to design a syllabus that can respond to the different needs of students.
According to Rachid khouya (2012) in his article” Moroccan School Performance: Teaching Is an Art”, teaching is like a cooking process. But the one who has to cook today is students not teachers. Teachers should help their students to cook what they like and help them to choose the ingredients (materials) they see appropriate to their cooking. To word it differently, when a teacher teaches the four skills, for example, he/she has to take into consideration the four stages for each activity. When the teacher teaches writing, for example, he/she has to take into consideration pre-writing, while writing and post writing stages.
The same procedures have to be done in teaching listening, speaking and reading. To put it clear, the teacher should respect the above mentioned stages. First, in pre-cooking stage, the teacher should give his student the chance to decide what to cook. In other words, students are responsible for their learning, they can choose their materials and way of learning they find comfortable. Second, in while cooking stage, the teacher should only use his/her eye contact and verbal communication to interfere when his help is needed. Then after cooking, the teacher should sit down with his students and share with them what they prepared. In addition, learners should be given the opportunity to work in group and reflect upon their final product. If students do not learn the way teacher likes, then a teacher should teach them the way they like. In other words, if students do not eat the way you cook then let them cook the way they like and let them eat what they cooked.
Our educational system will always be unsatisfactory as long as both the students’ and teachers’ opinions and suggestions are rejected and neglected. Moroccan teachers and students should be given the chance to participate in the life of education. Decisions should be taken with respect to the needs of students. This means that students should participate in curriculum design and decision making.
Students are there and they are affected by any decisions taken by their leaders. Policy makers should know that students are important element in education, and that is why they have to take them into consideration if they want to succeed in their reforms. On the other hand, teachers should be the first one to participate in curriculum designin the sense that teachers know well the needs of their students. Teachers should be trained well and should be equipped with the skills of 21 century. We notice that the government recruits inexperienced and untrained graduates in a field of education. We cannot expect fruitful results from teachers who lack skills in ICT (information communication technologies) and pedagogies of teaching. Therefore, policy makers should give more interest to both students and teachers. Students should be respected in terms of their ideas and opinions. Teachers should the first one to participate in decision making.
Since we are living in a world that relies heavily on ICT (Information communication technology), our schools and universities should be well equipped with these technological tools. Nowadays, Moroccan students are digital learners; the government should pave the way for all Moroccan students to have access to ICT. In this regard, teachers and students should be trained to use ICT so that the learning will be facilitated. It is so sad to find some teachers who are illiterate in ICT. They think of computer as a waste of time, and see the internet as a tool that instills bad behaviors among learners.
Teachers and stakeholders should understand that computer and mobile phones can help learners, for example the mobile phones can be used to take photos, save and store information. Photos and stored information can be used in projects; projects develop speaking, listening, writing and reading. The policy makers have to understand that learning takes place not only within the walls of classroom but can take place outside the classroom as well. Drama, singing, theatre and presentations can build positive things. At least they will make schools enjoyable. The integration of ICT develops the four skills (writing, speaking, listening and speaking) of learners. Therefore, the integration of ICT should expand to cover all regions of morocco, especially remote areas.
There is other problem that faces the educational system in Morocco. Policy makers should understand that textbooks are not innocent and neutral element. Textbooks are but a vehicle for hidden ideologies that serve the interests of those who designed them and imposed them on teachers and students alike. The contents of our textbooks should be questioned because they are designed by people who do not know the needs of our learners and even they do not know our culture. A quick look at the Moroccan textbooks shows that most pictures and settings are taken from western culture. We have always believed that textbooks should be taught in its socio, cultural and economic context.
Another element that contributes to the failure of our educational system is parents. Parents have the vital role to play in determining children’s success at school. There are certain things that are not fundamentally a teacher’s responsibility; these must be taught at home. For example, to value education, students should see their parents read from time to time. Parents should have books in the house in order to show their children how to search and get information. If parents cannot afford books, then they should take their children to the library.
The other important thing that parents must do is to teach their children to respect authority. Lack of order and discipline is sometimes the number one problem in the classroom. Parents have to be more careful and demonstrate to children that they have to abide by law and regulations and respect authority. If children hear their parents criticizing and ridiculing authority, then they in turn will lose respect for their teachers. Actually, parents and teachers must work together to instill right values in children. Parents must also teach their children to do their homework.
As a conclusion, for the educational system to succeed in Morocco, policy makers, teachers, parents and curriculum designers must sit together with students in order to know exactly what they need. Parents must teach their children how to respect their teachers and how to do their homework. Policy makers have to take the students’, parents’ and teachers’ opinions into consideration while taking decisions. Teachers must open the venues of communication with their students to know more about their ways of learning, feelings and even problems. Curriculum designers must take into consideration the socio-cultural and economic context of students while designing the curricula. Finally, information communication technologies must be expanded to reach all schools and universities.