Rabat - It was a warm and windy morning in the middle of September 1982. I can’t recall that many of the details, except how my mom was holding my hands in full celebration of the moment and how my heart was melting from a mix of fear and joy. I had heard of all the beautiful things in classrooms and been fully excited about my own. As all children do, I expected my teachers to be great men like my father, one who gives love and wisdom, or great women like my lovely mom, whose words still light my way. I had waited long enough before I became a student, before I realized that everything, somehow, begins and ends at that very moment.
Rabat – It was a warm and windy morning in the middle of September 1982. I can’t recall that many of the details, except how my mom was holding my hands in full celebration of the moment and how my heart was melting from a mix of fear and joy. I had heard of all the beautiful things in classrooms and been fully excited about my own. As all children do, I expected my teachers to be great men like my father, one who gives love and wisdom, or great women like my lovely mom, whose words still light my way. I had waited long enough before I became a student, before I realized that everything, somehow, begins and ends at that very moment.
I still hold to my memories in classrooms with passion. I still remember those cold mornings: the breezes, the unpaved streets, the trees, and the old houses. And, the bundle of dreams, wishes, and expectations usually children carry on their way to school. It was also about love, enthusiasm, and the strong desire to triumph over the different manifestations of marginalization, isolation, oblivion, exclusion, and deprivation in my city. As I do, I fall prey to the painful comparisons between the schools of yesterday and today, to what has changed dramatically within the walls. It is not about nostalgia, I guess! Or even an appreciation of the past. Indeed, it is quite about how far our schools have gone into nowhere.
Should I have a reason to wonder in pain and sorrow or express my fierce anger? Yes! Everything I experienced in the 1980s conquer me; a lovely word from my textbook, a portrait of my teacher striving for my own success and growth, a prayer by mom to God for my own safety, or all those tiny pieces of advice of my father that dreams come true through sweat, handwork, and determination. Humble though these things be, they make the mighty ages of eternity. Now that things go beyond the limit in Moroccan schools, one should expect ages of wrath.
The days passed in silence and hustle, the scenes have changed so have done the portraits, the words, the prayers, and the dreams. Fully irrelevant are the ultimate and noble aims of schools; now all we want is safety, both physical and emotional. How bad is it that teachers’ main concern now is to step out of their classrooms without any scars or wounds in their bodies or souls? In fact, too bad. Alas, too tragic, catastrophic, and shameful. What we daily experience fits perfectly a war zone. The way Moroccan schools operate recently mark serious changes in the fabric of the whole schooling system as both the morale and the attitude of Moroccans, including teachers and students themselves, towards their schools denote highly to all sorts of negativity, frustration, and despair.
It would have been less provocative had we not seen all the mess and chaos in our classrooms. As these horrible things continue to submerge into stagnant realities, we can’t help dreaming of a painless death, of a deliberate ending of all this suffering. Yes, all teachers, students, and parents need is euthanasia! Why wouldn’t they? Again, the very notion of violence doesn’t settle necessarily in the least two shocking incidents or attacks in Ouarzazate or Casablanca.Yet the two teachers attacked by their students happened to bear only a tiny portion of the brunt of violence. Others should expect their turn, as violence and crimes are on the rise! What the hell is going on?
It is quite peripheral to stop at the details and circumstances of the two incidents, to know why and how things happened. Or to proclaim a victory as social media platforms witnessed all expressions of condemnation and denouncement. Of course, we all felt the pain, denounced the barbarian acts against the two teachers, and posted messages of sympathy on our Facebook walls.
But here’s a bitter pill to swallow: we all woke up the very following morning as nothing had happened. All those empathic feelings and thoughts vanished leaving behind nothing but heavier dose of apathy. If there was a serious reason to worry about this horrible reality, it should be the indifference, as we are not aware, wholly or partially, of both the magnitude and scope of the danger inherent in the fabric of Moroccan schools. So! What does explain this mess?
In fact, the answer to such a provocative question revolves around a whole range of elements, all but strongly associated with political wills. Undoubtedly, the current debate on Moroccan schools still remains a delusional subject since it does not address the main challenges these schools face, fails to offer a reasonable glimpse into the national education system, and neglects to investigate the many issues plaguing the country. On the contrary, this debate still favors hesitation, lagging, and evasion, and relies most on a pragmatic ideology serving no benefit or goal to education; hence deceptive! Otherwise, the many councils, committees, decrees, memos, and suggestions had been formed and introduced in the recent years, either by state officials or by academic activists and experts, would have resulted in change.
Once and for all, the idea of reform necessitates a true, visionary, and courageous political will, to what we may define as the sustainable commitment of the ruling parties to have the right vision, to provide the necessary resources and to seriously invest in education. All but manifest through public commitments, financial support and, of course, credibility.
Now that my thoughts have reached an end, I may reflect on my own experience and say: I once wrung my hands in joy and festivity to step into my classroom, to know that it is where the blossoms of knowledge grow. Now, that I realize well that our kids still don’t – and still can’t – fulfill their natural thirst to true knowledge. And, instead they perfectly do to violence, I wring them in anger. The cries haunt me, the sighs rip my feelings off, the shattered faces bleed within my insides. I may feel sad to see how everything is falling apart, even the idea that I am a teacher. Yet, I have a dream that the hollow political sensationalism will vanish one day, and that those little kids can breath love and care, and that teachers can stand again for what they represent best: the leaders of change, and not victims…
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