Rabat – Surprisingly, the increase in the budgets of the ministries of education and reforms started over the past decade in many countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) have not resulted in significant improvements in the quality of education, and the level of students remains uneven across countries and regions and within the same country.
The quality of education in the region is a real challenge. Not all countries reach the international average in global assessments. The progress made will be insufficient to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), namely to attain quality education and reduce poverty and socio-economic inequalities.
By international standards, the quality of educational systems in the MENA region is still relatively low, although governments spend far more than Singapore, one of the strongest countries that devote much less on the education budget than the Gulf area or other developed countries.
There are many ways to improve the educational system. In most countries, reforms are very complex and their results are controversial. Successful education systems are characterized by a number of criteria. First, they encourage excellent students to become teachers in the future.
Second, as the recent McKinsey Research Group study shows, best practices can be implemented in Morocco or in any other cultural environment, and include relying on teachers for improving the quality of education. Upgrading the quality of the education system, however, cannot be achieved without highly trained teachers, who can ensure the quality of teaching within classrooms. Third, an effective educational system is always reflected in the learning achievements and results of each student.
Lastly, to contribute to the quality of education, modern information and communication technologies (ICTs) should be integrated into educational institutions, leading to a positive change in teacher-student relations and improved teaching methods. Using these technologies will contribute to improving the quality of courses and teaching methods, curbing disparities in the quality of education, and reducing the gap between urban and rural areas.
Recent field studies on the use of ICTs in Moroccan schools and universities indicate that there are insufficient computer materials at the disposal of students and teachers alike. Further, modern technology is rarely used to help teachers in schools.
Thus, an integrated approach to using educational ICTs in schools is essential, which means not only more investment in infrastructure, but also the urgent need to allocate more resources to train teachers and provide rewards to those who use ICTs in the classroom, and job opportunities for coordinators of modern technology within educational institutions.
To achieve these goals, the gap in the use of ICTs between regions must be narrowed. Programs focusing on new teaching methods must be established through digital technologies, which will help improve the quality of education and monitor progress in the use of digital technologies to acquire relevant skills.
In order to reach this goal, ICT training for teachers should be mandatory, most of whom master the software, as they often train themselves outside of working hours to acquire these skills.
It is helpful that students and pupils have access to ICTs both at home and at school, and the lack of infrastructure in schools does not mean that teachers and students are not interested, but the problem is that there is no clear educational policy to promote the use of information technology in Moroccan schools and universities. Although most students and teachers support the use of digital technologies, most schools lack enough computers and internet access.
By comparison, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation recently provided Internet access and offered thousands of computers to schools and libraries in many developing countries including Chile, Mexico, Botswana, Lithuania, Latvia, Romania, Ukraine, Poland, Bulgaria and Vietnam. The Foundation has also invested $240 million to provide Internet access in 99% of public libraries in the United States, as well as a huge number of computers and training workshops.
Our education system should invest in communication technologies, equip all educational and administrative facilities with computers with connection to the Internet, and train teachers and students in this field. There are thousands of students who need information literacy and do not find opportunities. The most important thing, as mentioned above, is that in all educational frameworks, students and pupils should be fully prepared to take advantage of this type of technology.
It has become necessary to increase the dissemination of scientific and technological culture among teachers and students. Likewise, introducing entrepreneurship will enhance the interaction with the business world and promote cooperation and partnership with the private sector. Seeking to achieve greater harmony between the educational system and its economic environment will strengthen the practical aspect of education and enhance the compatibility between school curricula and the economy.
Finally, the integration of ICTs into the curriculum and teaching methods is essential for the development of Moroccan student personality, because in addition to access to knowledge, the goal of education is to produce knowledge, boost creativity and contribute effectively to development.