Education in Morocco: Reflections on Major Reforms and the Current State of Accountability
Long ago, I wrote an article about education in Morocco in which I brought to light the status quo of education briefly. I also revealed some misconceptions that are prevalent among many individuals with regard to the maddening contractual policy in education. My overall objective in the current article is threefold: first, to give a short reflective account of the major reforms Morocco has undertaken to upgrade the education system; second, to address the unprecedented issue of teacher-accountability and examine its overarching ramifications and effect; and third, to discuss the role of educational inspectors in making well-informed decisions and deciding on effective policies that can alternatively shape the educational realm. I will conclude with a personal stance on current reality and the sought for outlook.
Historically, there have been several attempts for educational reform. Since its liberation from the French colonialism in 1956, Morocco has invested a lot of efforts to establish an education system that will eventually render Moroccan citizens well-prepared to meet the local needs and the global market’s requirements. Notwithstanding these reforms in the system, the desired outcomes were far-fetched. To alleviate the situation, King Mohamed VI created a commission to draft the National Chart for Education and Training in 1999, which aimed to be the guiding policy for the 2000-2009 decade. The National Chart for Education and Training comprised two parts, namely: principles and domains that provide a well-principled account of how to enhance educational practices and elevate Moroccan school. Yet, it was soon discovered it is difficult to put the content of the National Chart for education and training into practice due to several considerations which are beyond the scope of this article.
2009 witnessed the birth of a new “reform-epoch”. The ministry launched the emergent plan that came to remedy the situation. Its aim was to find solutions to stop the issue of dropping-out and to ameliorate the managerial capacities and skills of the heads of educational institutions. However, the one and only outcome of this intervention that was marked was total failure. Recently, and exactly in the late of 2014, the Supreme Council for Education, Training and Scientific Research launched the strategic vision 2015-2030 as a roadmap for reform. This new perspective has so many objectives, inter alia: “developing a good citizen, responding t the requirement of society, seeking democracy and development, developing scientific research and shifting from a consuming to productive society”.
It is believed that most of the interventions that have been incorporated since 1956 have not yet yielded the coveted results. Years of planning and huge of budgets went wasted. This really calls everything into question. Are there really intentions for reform? Probably, YES. But, evidently there is something missing. Coupled with the reform story, the issue of contracts in education, which really blurs the vision and increments bewilderment, has created a lot of controversy. Anyway, there seems no one can escape the fact that people are doomed to suffer and strive before they thrive. Next, a short account of contracts from the perspective of teacher contractees follows.
The case of teacher-accountability through contracts is the talk of the town. In my previous article, I delved into this issue. So, I will be as brief as possible and focus on the consequential ramifications. Almost two years ago, a disgraceful decision was made. In turn, this left teachers with no choice except being grief-stricken. The government believes that by shifting to such contractual approach, it will stack the cards in its favor and take over teachers’ fate. For some, it is believed that this will improve education and quality will be maintained over time.
The statement above reveals a clear misconception of policy makers for the following reasons: First, encouraging discrimination among staffs and teachers where a division is created upon the legal state of the teacher. Second, despite the claimed effect of contracts in promoting quality education, there are other deleterious impacts. Living in a paranoiac state and being socially and psychologically instable will not certainly yield any coveted results and this can be noticed along the run. Third, this project will definitely dedicate a culture of submission, slavery and fades teachers’ dignity away. Teachers’ roles MIGHT be extended to administrative assistants and adjutants in other institutions. When high school teachers are forced to teach in primary schools, out of their majors and without any pre-service training, the aforesaid statement will probably happen. Fourth, leaving jobs after finding other options or any tempting offers is very probable which will certainly diminish the future of education. As Diane Ravitch says “Public education is not broken. It is not failing or declining. The diagnosis is wrong, and the solutions of the corporate reformers are wrong” ( https://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/58511.Diane_Ravitch). This quote provides, at least, one reason that might fairly explain the educational crisis in Morocco. Clearly, it is because the wrong people are in the wrong place which produce wrong decisions and deleterious results. So, this paragraph is left with one question: how can education in Morocco be reformed? And I nominate a convenient candidate, the paragraphs below will uncover who and why.
Although there have been a couple of strikes and warnings from the part of teachers, the latter’s voices have gone unheard. The government seems to enforce such undemocratic decision at all costs. The consequential ramifications on teachers worsen the situation. Hopelessness and darkness are looming around. Teachers’ fears about their future, whose agenda is not yet filled with any plan, started to be noticed. “This intricate situation summons a divine intervention” a hopeless teacher contractee said. So, in the future, any reaction from the part of the ministry to hear teachers’ concerns and trepidations will be a turning point to swing the pendulum towards social security.
With no shadow of doubt, the role of inspectors is inevitable. The inclusion of this point in my article is motivated by two essential reasons: the first is coming across a statement on social media that sheds light on the inspectors’ role in Morocco, and the second reason is expressing my overwhelming desire to compliment on their efforts that I believe are vital and invaluable. Inspectors’ roles can’t be circumscribed to inspecting schools to ensure that the education program and policy are being effectively implemented, advising on teaching methods, approaches, skills and techniques or arranging regular meetings and visits through which teachers’ work is monitored, improved and evaluated.
It is my personal conception that inspectors play a sine qua non role in this affair and it is much broader. Provided that there are SUFFICIENT BUDGETS, inspectors should be allowed to help teachers learn and develop through monitoring workshops, CONTINUOUS training and professional development sessions, seminars and conferences which will instill professionalism and quality perspective in every single teacher’s mind. From several examples that I have seen earlier, I may venture a guess that inspectors hold most of the stake. Ergo, they should be given an important part of devising or adopting educational policies, pedagogical regulations, decision-making, curriculum design and development, and future educational reforms. One solid justification to this statement is that all Moroccan inspectors were teachers at a certain point of time and they are well-aware of the realities, challenges of Moroccan schools, institutional practices, and prospects. All over the country, there are so many well-educated and knowledgeable inspectors, and I’m very SURE that they can assume such remarkable responsibility through SITUATIONAL LEADERSHIP.
By and large, it seems that the story of education in Morocco has been written several times. Yet, it always ends up dramatically. The reform issue demands willingness to change, cooperation, long-term vision, sacrifice, and most importantly the inclusion of practitioners in policy and decision-making. But unfortunately, this still seems ideal. The ministry’s continuous adoption of a step-by-step strategy to avoid any reaction from the trade unions and its deliberate ignorance of teachers’ concerns may lead to harmful results at the expense of education and innocent young leaners. It is also imperative that any policy that aims at managing and improving human resources in the country must be subject to SITUATION ANALYSIS that takes into full account the attitudes, perceptions, conceptions, convictions and tribulations of all the engaged stakeholders. That’s how DEMOCRACY typically and forever works.
The Strategic Vision 2015-2030
The National Chart for Education and Training 1999