Fez - The Moroccan education system ranks at the bottom of the world's quality education list, even lagging behind countries plagued by severe social, economical and political problems.
Fez – The Moroccan education system ranks at the bottom of the world’s quality education list, even lagging behind countries plagued by severe social, economical and political problems.
This issue in particular is a headache for Moroccans seeing as the efforts of several ministers charged with the duty to improve the education system have been in vain. Stakeholders throw each other under the bus and the question remains, what can be done to eliminate obstacles in this vital domain?
Recently, the minister of education has lashed out at teachers as if they made the only part of the equation. Teachers on their parts “always blame the tools.” So why do not the ministry create suitable work conditions for them to eliminate pretexts and crack down on those who are “sluggish”?
Actually, the education system is entangled in lot of inextricable problems that should be addressed. Most of schools, teachers and students are marginalized in remote areas. The current situation is distressing. Some students must cross rivers in the cold winter while others walk for hours to reach schools. Teachers struggle to get by without even the most basic of necessities let alone the energy to motivate their students. In some areas teachers and students are cut off from civilization where infrastructure is weak or nonexistent.
I remember once as a teacher in a remote area near Taounate [51 miles northeast of Fez], the school organized a trip to the Waterfalls of Oum Rabia [a well known Moroccan touristic site in the region of Khenifra]. Though the students were informed about the destination and how far it is, one of them asked if we had arrived only after ten kilometers driving. The student seemed to have never travelled and his awareness of “the external world” was staggeringly weak. Likewise, in casual conversation in the classroom, I was dismayed that a lot of pupils did not know neighboring countries and basic information about Morocco. I realized just how isolated many Moroccan areas were.
In urban areas the situation is different. Students enjoy access to technology, yet they use it inappropriately. At home they spend the whole day connected to their devices playing games, chatting or watching videos. When they go to school, they are unwilling to listen to teachers using outdated material to explain lessons. The problem is that schools are quickly becoming old fashioned, while students are moving forward in terms of technology. Morocco must look for more sophisticated ways to engage students.
In addition to this, classrooms are so crowded that teachers spend more than ten minutes calling roll. Also, the atmosphere in many Moroccan schools is not particularly inspiring; failing to motivate students and leaving delinquents and addicts to resort to harassing other students.
Problems are endless, but there is hope if the ministry thinks of and implements viable solutions. The victims are our children on whom Morocco depends to reach more stability and prosperity.
First, transportation for students in remote areas is a priority that must be addressed in order to solve the problem of inaccessibility of schools. The ministry should also equip classrooms with the necessary tools to boost teachers’ and students’ motivation. A TV, a tape recorder, and a laptop should be available in each classroom. Teachers should also have access to a printer and a Xerox machine which should be periodically fixed and supplied with toner, saving time and energy meant to enhance learning as opposed to working around constant equipment hindrances.
Class size must be adjusted with classrooms containing no more than 30 students, allowing for students to engage in conversations more frequently and for their needs to be met more effectively.
School campuses should be cleared from delinquents displaying bad habits and propagating dangerous ideas that disorient students and compromise focus.
Gym classes should be prioritized because exercise helps students reduce stress and varies from the routine of exams and classroom lessons. Ample exercise materials and playground equipment should be provided.
Libraries should be available in case students want to pursue information, prepare for presentations, or merely read for pleasure.
Furthermore, teachers need more support and their role in society should be praised. Their rights should be secured allowing their focus to be on their jobs rather than the problems concerning the education system.
Finally, teachers must be held accountable for their work in the classroom. Supervisors are not only invited to assess the work of teachers but also required to help them by organizing continuous training. Visits from supervisors should exceed twice a year seeing as their suggestions and orientations can be extremely valuable.
This article is not all-inclusive as there are other factors that should be taken into consideration and other stakeholders that directly affect the education system. Let us emphasis basic needs first in order to spot weaknesses and those responsible for disorder.
Edited by Sahar Kian. Photo by MAP
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