While Morocco continues to extend its COVID-19 state of emergency out of caution, the country’s parliament is challenging the education ministry to more effectively address the morale-sapping impact the pandemic has had on Moroccan students.
In a brief note outlining how COVID-19 has upended the living standards of most Moroccan college students, especially those from low-income families who generally heavily rely on university services, MPs from Morocco’s Socialist Union of Popular Forces (UFSP) called for an emergency House of Representatives session.
The USFP parliamentary group is notably summoning Said Amazazi, the Moroccan Minister of National Education, to attend the emergency meeting and present whatever projects or initiatives his department is putting together to mitigate the heavy toll the COVID-19 crisis has had on Moroccan college students.
While UFSP’s note did not specify any time for the emergency meeting, it suggested the meeting would take place as a hearing before the Moroccan House of Representatives’ Committee on Education, Culture and Communication.
Included in the session’s talking points are the deteriorating living conditions of students in Morocco since the outbreak of the pandemic, university exam schedules, the debate about face-to-face and distance learning, the closure of university dormitories and restaurants, as well as the decrease in the number of merit scholarships at Moroccan universities.
UFP’s move comes as some students across Morocco threaten to vent their frustrations in a more forcible manner if authorities do not heed their demands.
Earlier this week, students at Ibn Tofail University in Kenitra announced they are preparing to boycott the university’s exam schedule in reaction to authorities’ refusal to comply with their list of demands.
Faced with the university management’s “silence in the face of the suffering of thousands of students,” the university’s student representatives body wrote in a recent statement, most students are ready to boycott the exams and join in the series of protests the body is organizing.
For nearly three weeks, students’ representatives at the Kenitra-based university have been demanding the postponement of exams, the opening of the university restaurant, the resumption of university transportation services, the distribution of scholarships, and the re-opening of university dormitories.
They have argued that theirs is “a struggle for dignity” and that they will not relent until the university management and the education ministry show a genuine willingness to “responsibly” discuss their demands, Moroccan outlet Al Massae reported on February 5.
Leading Ibn Tofail University’s “angry students” are members of the National Union of Moroccan Students (UNEM), the report noted. With the influence UNEM traditionally holds over politically active students across Moroccan campuses, there is a lingering fear that, if unresolved, the situation at Ibn Tofail University could soon trickle down to other Moroccan universities.