11 June 2014

Morocco Education in Crisis, Experts Warn

Casablanca — Morocco's education sector needs a major overhaul, students, professors and experts agreed last week-end in Settat.

National and international studies and reports reveal how catastrophic the situation has become, education inspector Rachid Alaoui told participants at a conference held Saturday (June 5th) at the University Hassan I.

One reason for the failure of educational reforms was the emergency plan that ended in 2012, Alaoui noted. Extending the project until 2016 would cost the kingdom 25% of its general budget, he said.

Morocco's low ranking in terms of university access, the high rate of drop-outs, and the mounting costs of schooling are education-related indicators that sociology professor Abdellatif Kedai at Mohammed V University has been monitoring.

In his remarks to the meeting, Kedai focused on the many challenges for educators. He noted the new issues facing Moroccan schools today, such as the rise in cheating, violence and drugs.

Students have changed their habits, he pointed out. Young people who once read books now spend their time online.

Poor administration of the education file has also contributed to the deterioration of schools and led teachers to abandon their mission, the professor added.

According to National Teaching Union (SNE) head Abdelaziz Ioui, reforms have been a failure.

He called for banning tutoring sessions because they "represent a drain [of resources] and an illegal competition against public schools".

Education has always been a political and ideological bet for various political actors, the SNE chief noted.

Reform attempts have failed thus far because they have been subjected to political calculations, other attendees agreed.

Said Asil, an assistant university professor, called for a review of professional exam procedures, attention to scientific criteria and an end to direct appointments.

Experts at the Settat meeting also backed the idea of reforming the sector in order to improve the financial, moral and professional conditions of educators.

Recommendations made at the event will be submitted to the Higher Council of Education, said Amina Noukairi of the Moroccan Centre for Youth and Democratic Transitions.

This is part of an advocacy process that the centre will take on with all actors in Morocco's educational system, she said.

Her organisation organised the meeting, along with the Moroccan Centre for Civic Education and the Laboratory for Studies and Research on Public Policies.

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