By Youssef El Kaidi
By Youssef El Kaidi
Morocco World News
Fez, May 29, 2013
After the upheavals in North Africa and the Middle East and the subsequent change in Morocco by the adoption of a new constitution and the election of a new government, people began feeling hope after years of corruption, despotism and domineering that greatly damaged the social and economic policies of the country and delayed its development. The slogan the PJD party raised during the election campaign was the fight against corruption and domineering; a slogan that plays on the sensitivities of people who were impatient for a new Morocco where transparency, democracy, social justice, and dignity reign supreme.
I, like many other people, believed in these ‘new comers’ and in their enthusiastic language and, for the first time in my life, took my family along and went to the nearest election office and voted for the PJD. The PJD won the elections and took the government. The moment the result was announced? I felt a deep relief and thought that finally Morocco is on the right track.
Almost two years now since the government was elected, it appears to me that the winds blew counter to the current and the hopes and expectations I made were but forlorn! As an educator, I see that education, which is undoubtedly the spinal cord of any development, is still wallowing in ample multifaceted problems, if the situation is not worse than before.
The first scourge teachers had with the new government were cuts to their salaries for striking without any prior notice, in spite of the fact that to strike is a legal right for teachers in the constitution. The second scourge was denying teachers the right to pursue their higher studies. This means that teachers, who should never stop the quest for knowledge, should not seek knowledge. Countries that value education, like Yemen for example, grant their teachers the right to pursue their MA and PhD studies abroad -and many Yemenis come to Morocco- and provide them with scholarships. In Morocco, it’s very hard for a teacher to pursue his/her higher education even at the university next to his/her school.
The third decision that suddenly appeared with the new minister of education concerns the right to benefit from trainings abroad. Before, Moroccan teachers used to represent Morocco in the best way possible in international programs and trainings and defend its territorial integrity with much enthusiasm and sense of patriotism. Now, getting the permission to participate in such opportunities is almost impossible, especially if the program or the training takes place within the school year.
This May, I was granted, through Morocco World News, a scholarship to attend the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development’s (EBRD) annual conference in Istanbul from 12 -17 May, 2013 (by the way, the bank sponsors a number of projects in Morocco and Morocco’s minister of economy didn’t miss attending) and applied for an exceptional license to leave the national territory.
In my application I promised to compensate my students for the five days of absence and also to defend Morocco’s higher interests. The EBRD had already arranged for my residence and flight and booked round-trp tickets.
To my astonishment, the director of the Regional Academy for Education and Training of Taza-Al-Houceima-Taounate, Mr. Mohammed Awaj told me in French that he “has the interdiction to give me such license.” He said that the ministry alone can solve this problem and gave me a phone number. The lady on the phone gave me another number and said her office is not responsible for such an affair. The lady on the second number did the same and the one on the third also did the same. Finally they stopped answering my calls. I came back home from the academy exhausted, frustrated and furious at the condition reached by our education system.
The same story would be repeated with me only fifteen days later. From a pool of hundreds of participants, I was chosen to give a talk in the New Faces Conference in Tunis, Tunisia from 13 – 17 June 2013 on Education and Democracy. The conference is organized by the German Council on Foreign Relations in cooperation with the Kawakibi Democracy Transition Center. With tenuous optimism, I applied again for a second license to leave the national territory and waited for more than a week. No reply apart from a message that the ministry alone can do this. I tore apart the talk I prepared and the application form that a friend of mine brought me back from the delegation of Taza and the feeling I had was beyond any description!
As a teacher, these two incidents will certainly affect my performance and lower my productivity and devotion. I never had the idea of immigrating, but now it haunts me obsessively. As human beings, we can’t do without looking for new horizons; if they don’t exist where we are, we feel the need to fly away just like migratory birds. Moroccan teachers work hard, and sometimes harder than the officials can imagine, for the better and the best of their country and for their personal and professional development. The policy of the ministry of education, it seems to me, is implanting despair in its human resources.
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