By Myriam Ait Malk
Rabat – School textbooks published and edited in Morocco will officially be modified in order to suppress any sexist or other discriminatory content that may have been present in educational curriculums around the Kingdom.
Referred to as a “cleansing operation” of all manuals used for the first primary school year up to high school senior year, this revision of 390 different school textbooks has already began its course in preparation for the 2016-2017 school year, which starts September 2016.
In an interview with EFE, a Spanish news agency, in April, Minister of Education Rachid Benmokhtar explained, “This “cleansing” has paved the way for a complete modification of 390 school textbooks in all academic areas, including math, and for all levels of public schools, twelve grades in total. The textbooks presented discriminatory content towards gender and race groups as well as towards disabled people and rural citizens.”
The goal of the revision and modification is to align educational programs with three major aspects that include Morocco’s 2011 Constitution and the 2014 population census, which takes into consideration new and updated population statistics and Morocco’s new regional breakdown.
A total of 400 comments were left by the revisers on 147 of the textbooks in question, denouncing the salient amount of images and texts that denoted themes of gender inequality and other forms of discrimination.
The modifications were then handed over to the textbooks’ editors, who can only republish the textbooks if the changes were properly made and the comments were followed.
Fouad Chafiki, the Curricculum Director at the Ministry of Education, told Huffpost Maroc, “Some of the content of the textbooks used also included implicit incitement to violence. One text depicted a girl spraying another with gasoline. This clearly indicates incitement to hatred.”
Gender bias in textbooks, especially in educational programs in underdeveloped and developing countries, has caught international attention throughout the years, prompting various investigations. UNESCO issued a report entitled Education For All Global Monitoring Report in 2008 on gender bias in textbooks in such areas of the world, noting that “gender bias does matter, and it turns out to be one of the best camouflaged – and hardest to budge – rocks in the road to gender equality in education.”
While many children in Morocco see themselves completely deprived of education as a whole due to parents’ lack of income or simply a negligence of the importance of education, it may seem as though such a concern should not be prioritized. However, as Manos Antoninis, from UNESCO’s global education monitoring report explains in an interview with BBC News, “Ensuring all boys and girls go to school is only part of the battle. What they are being taught is equally, if not more, important. Persistent gender bias in textbooks is sapping girls’ motivation, self-esteem and participation in school.”