Amid increasing rates of COVID-19 cases, there is growing concern about whether to start the 2020-2021 academic year online or in person.
Rabat – As the new school year quickly draws closer, the Ministry of Education must decide the future of students across Morocco as the COVID-19 crisis continues.
Without clear guidelines for how to start the 2020-2021 school year, professionals and other actors in the field of education around Morocco are anxious about health issues that could arise in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis.
According to a press release issued on August 6, the 2020-2021 school year will officially begin on September 1. Teachers are expected to resume their official duty on September 2. Meanwhile, students will get back to the classroom on September 7.
The Ministry of Education has not yet decided on the educational model for the upcoming school year. It is still unclear whether the school year will commence online in a more socially-distanced approach or if students will return to school in person. The latter remains an unlikely option due to the continuing outbreak of the pandemic in Morocco.
Actors in the education field are warning officials against taking a non-calculated step towards starting school.
The Secretary-General of the National Federation of Education, Abd al-Razzaq al-Idrisi, told Morocco’s state media that “the upcoming school entry carries with it many scenarios that may either contribute to complicating matters or easing them.”
He emphasized that “the state and the government are required to prepare for all possible possibilities.”
The challenge of remote learning
The National General Secretary of the National University of Education released a statement to Morocco’s state media expressing their concern about starting school in person in the midst of COVID-19. The statement urged authorities to “keep primary and secondary education institutions closed, especially in light of the health conditions” the country is currently facing.
However, shifting the entirety of education in Morocco will not be an easy endeavor. Students in rural communities may not have equal access to online education. Accountability for each student to remain focused and self-directed in an online system could also be a challenge.
“Distance education cannot replace the attendance education that requires the attendance of the student, the teacher, and the department,” Al-Idrisi stressed in his statement, noting that education “is a collective work in which there is competition and solidarity” among all participants.
Al-Idrisi confirmed the existence of a class and spatial disparity in the quality of education. He urged officials to provide “the necessary logistical capabilities and equipment to achieve a fair education.”