By Jawad Garmah
By Jawad Garmah
Rabat – In almost 5 months, Moroccan teacher trainees have been boycotting training in its theoretical and practical aspects. The story of this boycott began when the government launched two ministerial decrees in September 2015.
In the first decree, the ministry deliberately decided to reduce the amount of teacher trainees’ scholarships by half. This means that instead of getting a MAD 2450 salary, as the previous teacher trainees used to get, they will get only 1200dh. As a scholarship, this signifies that, for the government, they are no longer teacher trainees, they have become teacher students. The second decree, which is far worse than the first one, separates training from recruitment and after a one-year training program, teacher trainees have to sit for another written-oral exam in order to be officially recruited. What triggered the outrage of teacher trainees is the fate of the teachers who are not going to pass the recruitment exam; they will instead find themselves jobless or forced to work in the private sector, which is not structured in terms of minimum wages, medical insurances, or retirement.
The decrees have frustrated the determination of teacher trainees, and threatened their employment prospects; they have therefore engaged in a comprehensive and open boycott, and took to the streets in protest against the two decrees, and have undertaken not to go back to training so long as the two decrees are still in effect.
Legally speaking, the second decree, which separates training from recruitment, was issued in the official Gazette of the ministry after the registration of teacher trainees in the regional centers. So, according to the legal experts, teacher trainees mustn’t be subject to this decree.
Obviously, when the government launched the two decrees, it didn’t intend to reform the educational system as it claims, but rather to smooth the way to the privatization of education, and the elimination of the public employment. In other words, the government intends to take it hands off the educational sector, since this latter doesn’t reap profits for the governments, but instead requires a large budget expense. S These factors together, were the main trigger of protest of teacher trainees in all over the country.
Teacher trainees have been engaging in a heroic battle under the banner of the National Commission of Teacher Trainees, which was elected by teacher trainees one week after they initiated the boycott. From that time on, the National Commission of Teacher Trainees has been setting up protest programs, in which they determine and organize demonstration activities, locally, regionally, and nationally. These demonstrations are actualized in the form of nonviolent marches, sit-ins, hunger strikes, regional marches. Most notably, three national marches recently took place in Rabat, with a fourth last week in Casablanca, involving approximately 60,000 demonstrators.
However, on 7 January 2016, things went from bad to worse. The National Commission of Teacher Trainees called for a regional march to take place in the big cities of Casablanca, Marrakech, Fez, Inezgane, Oujda, and Tangier. In Inezgane, however, while the teacher trainees were preparing to take to the streets for the assembly of the regional march, they were banned by security forces at the door of the center. Teacher trainees persisted to pass the security barrier in a peaceful way, but the security forces violently suppressed the teacher trainees, causing serious injuries which required emergency medical attention. This assault on teacher trainees sparked a wave of outrage among Moroccans who denounced the brutal repression. The so-called ‘’Black Thursday’’ caused a big sensation across social media, due mainly to the shocking images of the violation. All these events stirred up the civil rights associations, civil bodies, and activists to organize a meeting between the National Commission of Teacher Trainees and the government to find a quick solution to this crisis, and stop the crisis.
Before the third national march that was supposed to be held in Rabat, the National Commission of Teacher Trainees was called by the Ministry of Interior, represented by the governor of Rabat-Kenitra to arrange an official meeting to discuss the current crisis in hopes of finding a quick solution. After a long negotiation, the governor offered a proposal to recruit teacher trainees in two batches, 7,000 teacher trainees in September (with a recruitment test), while the rest would be recruited on January 2017; and concerning the scholarship, teacher trainees would get MAD 2000.
The commission of teacher trainees flatly refused this proposal, however, and suggested the government recruit all of them in one batch and return the two decrees to parliament for discussion and reconsideration. Moreover, after the national march, the commission of teacher trainees was called to attend three additional meetings with the governor, but still failed to reach a satisfactory solution.
Despite the government’s threats to expel them, teacher trainees decided to continue their protest activities and their boycott until they have achieved what they believe to be fair and legitimate demands.
Edited by Clint Brooks
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