Education First has described Morocco’s English proficiency as “very low,” ranking it 60th out of 88 countries with a score of 48.10.
By Mohamed Hikal
Rabat – In Education First’s 2018 English Proficiency Index (EF EPI), Morocco ranked sixth out of nine African countries. South Africa, Nigeria, Senegal, Ethiopia, and Egypt, all scored higher on the index, yet Morocco fared better than Tunisia, Algeria, and Libya. The EF EPI is a standardized, online English proficiency test of both reading and listening skills.
Globally, women exhibited a better mastery of English, scoring an average of 54.57, compared to men’s average of 52.63 on the EF EPI’s standardized exam, which grades on a zero to 100 scale.
Strikingly, women in Africa continued to widen the gender gap scoring 55.20, compared to 51.58 for their male counterparts; this gap remains larger than any other region in the study. African women also scored higher than European males and slightly lower than European females, the report showed.
Sweden, with an average score of 70.72, was the highest-performing country in the world, while Libya appeared in the bottom percentile of the 88 countries assessed, earning a score of 39.64.
Morocco’s score of 48.10 represents an incremental improvement from the EF’s 2017 report, which scored the country with 47.91. Women who were tested in Morocco scored 50.50, whereas their male counterparts scored 46.44.
The index studied adults 1.3 million candidates, of which 60 percent were women, from across 88 countries and regions.
“The Moroccan educational system is exam-oriented. Since listening is not included in the national exam, it’s not given much importance in the teaching of English,” said Mohamed Bakkas, an English language teaching supervisor at the Ministry of Education.
Bakkas told Morocco World news that “[m]ost Moroccan teachers skip teaching listening to prepare their students for the national exam. As a result, students’ results in the listening comprehension exam [are] terrible.”
Mohammed Hassim, a retired English language teaching supervisor at the Ministry of Education, stated that “being at the bottom of international reports of education is but a logical result of failing educational reforms in Morocco.” Hassim is also an expert in curriculum design and a former president of the Moroccan Association of Teachers of English (MATE).
He pointed out that “this failure is not because of the professional qualities of teachers, nor the approaches and methods we adhere to, but…[the] stagnant curriculum and evaluation system” that has remained the same for over a decade. “‘Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again while expecting a different outcome,’ as Albert Einstein once said,” Hassim added.
A previous study published in 2016 showed that Morocco, along with the United Arab Emirates, performed far better in English proficiency within the MENA region. However, compared to other nations, the countries in this region did not score well.