By Abdelhak Ammari
By Abdelhak Ammari
Nador, Morocco – A few days ago, I listened to a Moroccan radio program called Hki Li, meaning “Tell Me” in English. The program receives people’s calls, and the callers air their complaints and their social and psychological problems. The program and its listeners endeavor to find out solutions for the callers’ problems.
On the day that I listened in to the program, a man phoned from Melilia, the occupied city. At first, I was amused by the man’s poor Arabic and rifi dialect. But as he continued to speak, I was drawn in by the sadness of his story: he wept as told listeners that his fifteen year old son was a drug addict, and had been a drug addict since the age of thirteen. He stole money and jewelry from his father on multiple occasions, but what was worse was that the father felt that he was losing his son to the drugs.
The father thought that perhaps his son’s school was the cause of this problem. Therefore, he went to the administrator of the school and told him about his son’s addiction. The school’s chief administrator said (with complete indifference “all children smoke.” The caller was taken aback by the response, and he left in disgust.
I was struck by this radio call, and could not stop thinking about it for several days. The call reveals several unhappy truths about the Moroccan educational system that are rarely discussed, but which cry out for debate.
In the first place, it seems to be a stereotype in Moroccan culture that children are raised according to Islamic principles of respect and purity in the home, and then become corrupted in their schools. They almost seem to change overnight.
For example, they become addicted to different kinds of drugs. They behave rudely. They disdain their schools and everyone and everything pertaining to them.
Obviously, socio-economic factors play a big role in the failures of the Moroccan educational system; a poor family is much more likely to have children struggle in school than a rich family. But there is a deeper problem at the core of this issue, a cancer at the heart of Morocco: many teachers, educators, supervisors and administrators fail at their jobs, and fail to care for the children entrusted to them.
For an example of horrendous teaching, I need look no further than my own childhood, particularly when I was in primary school. I still remember a teacher who would usually come to class completely drunk. He would enter the classroom without saluting his students. His pale face, rumpled attire, and greyed complexion indicated that he was inebriated. After beating some of the students at random, he would pounce on his desk as if riding a donkey. Without exception, all of the students would be frightened. Worse still, he used to insult the girls in the class. He told one girl, “you are a bitch; you should not be here; you had better go to the streets to survive.” He would then turn to insult a rather plump young student, and yell to her “you are a cow; your breasts are like those of cows.” Is this the way a teacher should speak to a student?
This sad story is just a small piece of the long and bitter history of the mistreatment of children by teachers. As a result, from time to time, we would hear the news of some students dropping out of school, to the point where very few children went to secondary school. Additionally, students suddenly would go astray. Some would regularly go to places where smokers gathered, and some dared to insult their parents. Generally, once Moroccan families started sending their children to schools, the values and principles of our society began to deteriorate.
Some Moroccans might respond to my article by asserting “yes, this all may be true but it was in the past!” But my own younger brother often tells me that his teacher blackmails his students, telling them, “If somebody wants to succeed, he/she must bring me every Friday a fresh chicken.” This is just one example of the many abuses that take place in our schools.
What is to be done about these failures? One thing is for certain—the uncaring attitude of our administrators and our teachers must be battled on our fronts. Our schools are the place where our children learn to take part in the future, and the future that I see now is a bleak one.
Edited by Ilona Alexandra
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