Rabat – A new, government-sponsored report has established that expanding social disparities and pointed income inequality constitute the main factors of the failure of Morocco’s public schools as well as the deepening gap between rich and poverty-stricken Moroccans.
The report, ran under the supervision of Omar Azziman, the president of Morocco’s Higher Council for Education, Training and Scientific Research (CSEFRS), is a damning statement on the current state of Moroccan public schools.
While it does offer a glimmer of hope about what can be done to reverse the bleak realities it describes, the report is adamant that the present situation is “highly concerning” for Morocco’s educational system.
It warns that the future is even more worrisome for the country’s public schools if private schools continue to thrive at the expense of government investments in public learning institutions.
The report estimated that, in the recently concluded academic year, only 14% of the over 7 million Moroccan pupils were registered in private schools. By contrast, however, the performance index of this tiny minority of private schools-educated pupils during national exams was far above that of the rest.
On average, a child in private school scored 461 points on tests. This is over 100 points above that of an average performer from a public school, where the standard performance stood at 340 in the past academic year.
The numbers are “alarming” and, according to CSEFRS, speak volumes about the “concerning” context within which Moroccan public schools have found themselves in the past two decades or so.
While a set of multiple and interlocked factors may all certifiably account for the big performance gap between private and public schools, the report prominently cited “poverty” and “social disparities” and “unequal redistribution of wealth” as the main explanatory factors.
Coupled with the shortage, or sometimes complete lack, of government funding to raise the standards of the teaching quality in public schools or renovate the mostly crippling infrastructure is the “skewed, unequal income redistribution” across the social spectrum.
Behind this finding is the oft-repeated point that rich or middle-class Moroccan families send their children to private schools, whereas poor, low-income citizens are obliged to send theirs to public institutions.
A related consequence of this, according to the report, is the creation of an unbalanced competition between the tiny minority of privately schooled Moroccans and the remaining, crushing majority of Moroccans lacking the social and cultural capital available to their counterparts at private institutions.
The educational system as it currently stands, suggests the report, is becoming the primary driver of a reproduction system, sustaining the existing social disparities. A dysfunctional, poorly funded educational system dampens social mobility and “sustains social disparities.”
But, the report hastened to add, as if shining a tiny glimpse of hope over what is essentially a dispiriting assessment, radical reforms and policy interventions can reverse the current situation. To reverse the tide and possibly salvage Moroccan public schools, however, the report proposed a 2020-2030 “strategic vision.”
Almost entirely inspired from King Mohammed’s oft-cited new development model, the “strategic vision” called for an inclusive education system where significant government funds go into rehabilitating school infrastructure, raising teaching quality (qualified and well paid teachers), and providing incentives to low-income students in the forms of scholarships or loans.
The report comes just three months after another CSEFRS study found that, again due to social disparities and a bundle of related factors, one in five Moroccan students typically drop out of school at a very early age, driving up the already high numbers of Moroccans who end up living through surviving from one precarious job to another.