Hundreds of students across Morocco have skipped school and organized marches and sit-ins this week to protest staying on GMT+1.
Rabat- The government’s last-minute decision to stay on Daylight Saving Time or GMT+1 year-round angered and confusing Moroccans, inspiring protests by hundreds of students in Marrakech, Fez, Meknes, Sale, Casablanca, Beni Mellal, Khenifra, Errachidia, and the town of Kelaat Sraghna in central Morocco.
Earlier this week, students in Fez marched in the streets, condemning GMT+1 and calling on the government to move back to the previous standard time, GMT.
Later, Casablanca’s Ain Borja, Sale, and Meknes skipped classes and stood in front of prefecture and outside their schools to condemn the clock decision and to call on the Ministry of Education to keep schools’ traditional time-table.
Beginning Thursday, sit-ins transformed into large marches in Beni Mellal, Khenifra in north-central Morocco, Errachidia in the eastern Draa Tafilalet region, and in other parts of the economic capital of Casablanca.
Marching on streets and even on tramway lines in Casablanca, armies of students shouted and chanted, “The people want to change the clock.”
Some students even climbed a public clock in Kelaat Sraghna to change the time back to GMT.
Morocco was set to end DST and return to standard time on Sunday, October 28. The government’s surprise October 26 move to stay on DST, asserting that it would “benefit” the public and save energy, caused widespread condemnation. Many criticized officials for not “taking public opinion into consideration.”
The government’s decision followed soon after the European Commission’s proposal in September that EU member states should stop changing the time for the summer and be free to decide whether to “permanently apply summer or wintertime.”
The president of the European commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, said that the proposed change would be implemented on Sunday, March 31, 2019, as the last mandatory change to summer time.
Then, it would be up to the member states who wish to permanently switch back to wintertime to do so on Sunday, October 27, 2019.
Students unsatisfied with the new timetable
Many Moroccan students wished that the government would go back on its decision to keep Morocco on GMT+1—set to sync with its European neighbors France and Spain—so that their usual school times would remain unchanged.
“We ask [the government] to remove the daylight saving, and we also ask of them to create a space for us to stay during lunch breaks because we have a hard time staying outside of school in breaktime,” a student from Sale, Rabat’s neighboring city, stated in a video during the protest on Wednesday morning.
Students expressed difficulty waking up at dawn to attend school, and parents remain concerned about how to sync their schedule with their children’s new timetable.
Public schools usually open at 8 a.m. and close at 6 p.m. with a 2 hour-lunch break from 12 noon to 2 p.m. The ministry said in a statement that students will follow the same time-table for school this week when students returned from the fall break.
Beginning Monday, November 12, students will follow the new-time table that the government set on November 1. Urban schools will start at 9 a.m. and end at 5 p.m. with a two-hour lunch break between 1 and 3 p.m. from Monday to Friday.
For schools in rural areas, students will start at 9 a.m. and end at 3 p.m. with a 30-minute lunch break from Monday to Friday.
For schools with two teachers sharing a classroom, the ministry gave alternate time-tables. The altered time tables mean students will have less time at school but will not have to attend school in the dark.
Schools will go back to the traditional time-table in the spring.