Fez - The alarming degradation of the Moroccan education system has caused considerable controversy while the situation remains dismal according to NGOs’ reports.
Fez – The alarming degradation of the Moroccan education system has caused considerable controversy while the situation remains dismal according to NGOs’ reports.
After decades of continuous downturns on diverse fronts such as economics, employment, social justice, and even sports, Moroccan education has also reached its crisis peak.
UNESCO has unmasked the continued miserable state of Moroccan public schools as Morocco was ranked amongst the least effective educational systems worldwide. A very similar dim picture was revealed in 2011 and 2013 reports (Almassae; January 4, 2014). These reports indicate that the country must undertake major, comprehensive reform measures to restore and strengthen the system.
Despite the 5% of the country’s GDP devoted to education and the grand facilities of the Moroccan ministry, the level of Moroccan education is no better than much poorer countries. The recent report has ranked Morocco in a belated position among Arab countries in graduation and schooling rates. This dreary situation persists despite vows of educational authorities to reform this sensitive sector.
After his allegiance ceremony in July 1999, King Mohammed VI’s gave an official discourse in parliament on August 8, wherein he indicated the significance of reforming the Moroccan education. In the same year, the Moroccan Ministry of Education published a report following a thorough analysis of the Moroccan education system, following an order of former King Hassan II. The National Charter for Education and Training has been considered a momentous catalyst in Moroccan educational policy-making promising deep reforms of the deficient educational system. It has underlined a set of reform measures and mechanisms intended to promote Moroccan education’s quality.
The National Charter was a revolutionary reform plan aimed at matching the economic, political, social, and educational novelties Morocco was witnessing then, after several crises in the system of education. Overall, the Charter has set a plan for quality education through an inclusive series of goals emphasizing good teacher-training, syllabus review and re-planning, language instruction enhancement, and human resources adequacy, to name a few. However, 15 years later, the actual status of education has gone through a palpable degradation, which puts into question the state’s political intentions in dealing with the issue.
The White Book -another official education document- has named a series of tenets for education reform in Morocco. It affirms that the curriculum should not simply be a mere combination of subjects but an essential component of an educational strategy for reform (White Book. introduction p:1). It also emphasizes that school should play the leading role in producing well-trained, educated, and independent individuals. In addition, it draws attention to the empowerment of democracy and human rights, which are indispensable for opinion, knowledge, creativity, and initiative to thrive in educational settings. It accentuates the preservation the Moroccan identity along preparing the learner to be an active and influential player in the aspired renaissance.
Similarly, and among other measures, the Moroccan administration has adopted an educational policy referred to as ‘school map’, intended to pass students in the early and middle stages of schooling to advanced levels despite their lack of primary education skills. Worthy of note is that experts attribute this defective policy to international partners’ intervention in the Moroccan financial affairs to control their fundraising for improvement of state sectors, of which education is major component.
The reform processes has brought about a hustle and bustle in the media as well as for the public. Another official reaction to the dire human resources’ shortage and critical education situation was Latifa El Abida’s ministry introduction of ‘The Emergency Plan’. It was an emergent model of reform which cost a colossal budget in an attempt to make up for human resources’ shortage, enhance in-service teacher-training, limit high drop-out rates, equip classrooms with teaching materials, etc.
However, the results of the Emergency Plan demonstrate palpable failure. Education establishments are still short of human resources, especially teaching staff. Dropout rates are still very high: between 350 and 400 thousand leave school each year before the age of fifteen. In the long-term, dropping out has serious consequences such as high illiteracy rates, unemployment, theft practice, affiliation to crime gangs, and the like.
Also, imitation of the French system in regards to cycles, streams, grades, and even content continues to stir controversy among education stakeholders. Given the conspicuous incompatibility between Moroccan and French educational environments, the copying of the French system has generated public discontent among educators, students, and their parents. Many deem it a continued form of subservience to France, which aims to maintain its colonialist control over Morocco.
Today, Moroccan schools produce unqualified literates; ill-suited for the job market, and unable to function well in service to their country. The state’s ad hoc measures to raise the quality of education is manifested through policy change along with change of people in charge of this vital department. For instance, when Mohammed El Wafa took office as minister of education, he immediately cancelled The Emergency Plan and fired the official in charge of it, contending that a colossal budget was fruitlessly spent for the program. El Wafa has adopted a new policy addressing educational issues; a philosophy the appointed technocrat Rachid Belmokhtar seems to despise. This indicates that educational policy-making is dependent on personal perceptions or political ideologies rather than the country’s overall policy guided by national identity and the pursuit of sustainable development.
Interestingly, Moroccan education’s deterioration continues while official discourse on education grows tenser through parliamentary debate, media programs, and so forth. In this respect, King Mohammed VI gave a speech on August 20, 2013, whereby he alluded to the mediocrity of the educational system and stated an effort to review language instruction policy.
Meanwhile, he announced the creation of The Higher Council for Education, which will serve as a specialized body able to provide sound views and suggestions on education policy. The King’s speech was interpreted as returning back to the use of foreign languages in instruction in lieu of Arabic, which asserts that Arabization was another facet of a failing education.
Considerable efforts have been made to rescue our education. However, reform attempts have veered off the central principle which is the empowerment of human resources and catering to their needs. In this respect, teachers and students continue to face increasing difficulties as reform plans seem to have no positive impact on their personal or professional endeavors. On the one hand, teachers still endure myriad problems such as slow promotions, low salaries, artificial textbooks, poor students’ grades, many working hours, lack of teaching materials, etc.
These problems surely have an adverse effect on teaching quality inasmuch as teachers are stressed more and more and resent the state for inadequate working conditions. The state has not only suspended promotion of professionals holding academic and professional degrees but even violently reacted to their 2013 protest marches through arrest, verbal affronts, and other forms of maltreatment and humiliation.
Students, on the other side, are no longer interested in the Moroccan public schooling due to its disgraceful atmosphere , boring lessons, large classes, lack of and absence of teachers, etc. According, the 51st issue of Educational Sciences Journal, Moroccan education is featured by absence of modern teaching techniques and the ongoing adoption of boring and unattractive teaching styles, which adversely affect students’ excitement and motivation to learn while they are immersed in a technological revolution; as a result, the rate of failure in standardized exams has accrued significantly. Similarly, the rate of drop outs has alarmingly escalated in Morocco in the recent years according to officials as well as independent figures.
Today, the Moroccan education system continues its critical decline on many fronts: low schooling rates, high illiteracy, high drop-out rates, mismatch between education contents and job-market requirements, etc (Education Science Journal, Issue 51, p58). Undeniably, all stakeholders have a part to play in the improvement of education quality and revival of the lethargic school life. Action, not words, irrespective of political or ideological backgrounds, is necessary in order to bring back to the Moroccan education the value it had throughout its long history.
Reform is not possible unless the main concerned parties are included and their views are well-considered. Schools need to be equipped with necessary teaching and learning materials in addition to adequate human resources to cater educational needs. Curricula need to be reviewed and updated to suit students’ interests and meet their aspirations. In sum, discourse remains a mere bare bone awaiting enforcement to add flesh and eventually effectuate the reform Moroccans have long anticipated.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial policy
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