Rabat – The rise of private schools in Morocco and the potential introduction of fees in the public education sector lead to inequalities between students and threaten efforts to improve national schooling, warns the Social, Economic and Environmental Council in a recent report.
“Private schools risk discriminating between citizens, equal opportunities, fairness and the right of access to education and training,” explained the council in its annual report, published on September 2017.
Additionally, private education in Morocco is “far from being a homogeneous institution,” with great differences between private establishments, both in terms of fees and the quality of services.
Private and Public: Difference or No Difference?
To anticipate the potential effects of private schooling, the Council examined the recent developments of the private sector in countries of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
Chile, which has pursued a policy of privatization of its education system, remains among the countries that suffer the most from inequalities of performance between students of different categories.
On the other hand, Finland, considered to have the one of the most efficient education systems, relies for the most part on the public sector.
Contrary to public opinion, however, funding does not have a significant effect on performance gaps.
The results of some international reports and studies have shown that the difference in student performance between private and public institutions can be explained, for the most part, by the socio-economic standing of the students and the degree of autonomy granted to the school in terms of decision-making and management.
Students belonging to a favored socio-economic class, with educated parents available to provide their children with a learning environment, tend to have better performances in public than in private.
For the council, “the essential problem of education in Morocco can not simply be reduced to funding or insufficient budgets. It also requires more efficiency and transparency in the management of resources human and financial, awareness raising for a greater involvement of civil society in the evaluation and monitoring of school performance.”
To improve the condition of education in Morocco, it is also mandatory to “establish communication and between parents and the school, quality educational content, continuing education for trainers and the fight against teacher absenteeism, as well as an integrated approach involving all governmental bodies and the elimination of financial and social costs.”
Public School Becomes Private
Morocco has presented itself as committed to achieving its Sustainable Development Objectives by 2030. One of the main pillars of this plan is to ensure universal access to high quality education, equality, and promotion of lifelong learning opportunities.
However, in 2016 the kingdom’s Higher Education Council issued an advisory opinion to put an end to free public school.
Following public outcry, the Education Council issued a statement ensuring that “education in preschool, primary and college secondary [would] remain free of charge.” But from high school to university, “affluent families [would] pay the registration fee,” as “a form of national solidarity” that “does not correspond to the actual cost of studies.”
However, the latest report indicated that operational difficulties, particularly the identification of beneficiaries and the definition of a sustainable threshold of costs for vulnerable categories, would undoubtedly surface.
“The introduction of registration fees in public schooling is inappropriate in the current national context, since there is a high risk that such measures generate additional social costs,” wrote the council.
An uncontrolled emphasis on the use of private education and the imposition of fees on public education could increase the risk of an education system emerging that would go against “the principles of equal opportunities and equity, enshrined in the texts and national and international reports.”