How Long Before the 20th February White March?

Teacher trainees’ collective consciousness took to the public sphere

Abdelqoudous Benezha is teacher trainee at CRMEF Tangier. He obtained a BA degree from Ibn Tofail university in kenitra. 

Tangier, Morocco

It is well-known that springtime is full of illnesses, such as nasal allergies. This can be said to be true to the Arab Spring with its symptoms, embodied in an endless chain of protests against state politics. The process of treating those symptoms of unwise state politics took place in the virtual world, especially through the uses of social media outlets, such as Facebook and Youtube. Moroccan teacher trainees got affected with the same disease, resulting in a call for a ‘digital recovery’ of our already paralyzed educational system. Based on the fact that Moroccan teacher trainees were yearning for the golden chance to bridge the gap between their online and offline identities, an emergence of the virtual public sphere among them led to seek a reconciliation with its traditional phase. This caused them to take to the public sphere in order to voice their demands about abolishing the two cursed decrees and reviving our already stagnant educational system.

On February 20, 2011, Morocco was host to a generated consensus that fed upon online youth activists’ desireat that timeto take to the public sphere and to show a sudden volt-face of people against state politics that can be characterized with “riot” whose corrupted nature tarnished the image of the protesters. This resulted in scuffles with the police force, fearing that the protesters’ resolve to denounce states politics might go crescendo into an uprising as more localities throughout the country would join the flood. With that being said, King Mohammed VI’s wisdom called for a referendum on constitutional reforms, which was held in Morocco on July 1, 2011, as a response to the protests that bloomed from the need of demanding democratic reforms. Hence, the Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane was appointed the Head of the Government by the Wise King to quench the thirst of people for constitutional reforms. In addition to the appointment of Benkirane as Head of the Government, and based on the desperate need to give a response to some localities that fueled the fire of protests against the state, another wise decision of the King of making Berber an official language alongside Arabic came into existence. Those wise decisions of the King were regarded as cold winds that blew the heat of the protests away. Yet, is Benkirane willing to blow such winds to solve the pressing issue of teacher trainees’ protests against the two ministerial decrees?

On November 12, 2015, teacher trainees embarked on a journey towards Rabat in order to claim “no way, Jose!” against the two mortal decrees, which were issued by the Minister of Education Rachid Belmokhtar. Actually, one would question the means by which the two decrees were generated, assuming that our parliament where smoky, cozy consensuses are reached doesn’t respect the smoking ban. A point which is often overlooked by the Ministry of Education would be the difference between a serious battle of minds and a mild one, where teacher trainees’ academic knowledge and strategies outwitted the Minister of Education Rachid Belmokhtar not only because their tactics were free from riot but also were combined with their ability to keep it a battle of minds despite the brutal tactics the Ministry of Education has resorted to so far.

On December, 17, 2015, another white movement headed to Rabat to voice its demands of abolishing the two mortal decrees. There was an additional color fused with the wonderful image of a white flood, whose nature wasn’t destructive and prevented it from being called the white plague, the color of teacher trainees’ parents, brothers, sisters, and even friends who sought to support this artistic painting whose aim is to depict a new image of an already-broken educational status quo. Granted that teacher trainees are willing to keep the battle of minds up, and that its arena is still both the traditional and the virtual public sphere, the Head of the Government will have no choice but to ponder over crossword clues in order to solve the problem, and of course by finding the only words that will quench teacher trainees’ thirst for attaining their rights, which are, “we have abolished the two decrees. You are officially teacher trainees.”

If we turn the clock back to people’s protest against Amendis in Tangier, and if we forward the clock to the two major protests of teacher trainees in Rabat, we will notice that other localities have smelt the aroma of this common culture of protesting, and headed, too, to the public sphere in order to voice their demands of ordering some parliamentarians into retirement, and that being a parliamentarian isn’t a job that entitles one to a long-life retirement combined with a salary of “Two Filaliean Franks,” whose equivalent, by Lfilali, is 8000 DHs. This marks a shift in the public opinion that will, sooner or later, be coupled with other local trends’ aims and goals. Another key point to make would be the fact that the majority of Moroccans feed upon bread, sugar, and tea. With this in mind, and coupled with the fact that those products are subsidized by the state, Benkirane’s attempt to cut the subsidies will amount in political suicide because this will give birth to anti-austerity movements that will aim at exhausting the PJD’s popularity among the masses.

 Bearing in mind that people want bread before democracy, they will start feeling the hand that will steal their birthright coming nearer and nearer. This will cause them, once being robbed of such a right, to go for democracy. Feeling danger coming their direction, people will bear pressure on the PJD by adopting the so-called common culture of protesting as a mode of life. People will look hither, thither, and yon for their rights, along with teacher trainees, who will certainly be the mastermind of this potential gigantic white movement. Further, teacher trainees are very skeptical of the coming solutions to which the Ministry of Education might resort and don’t see them leading to the much-hoped for educational status quo. This shows, with no shadow of doubt, that the tumor of the coming protests will be a benign one since there is a high probability that teacher trainees will organize themselves into political parties and might seek affiliations with other unions because the Head of the Government is calling for “une année blanche” due to a two-month-long period of boycotting both the theoretical and practical aspects of their training.

The result of the brutal tactics adopted by the state against teacher trainees’ protests

On January 7, 2016, teacher trainees’ blood was scattered all over the Kingdom; police intervened violently to disperse their protests against the two mortal decrees. This brutal police beating resulted in some of them sufferingseveral broken bones, a case of loss of sight, and hemiplegias. This is how teachers of the future are treated in Morocco, whose worth by the prince of poets Ahmed Shawqi, is equivalent to that of prophets. Therefore, as a homage that is paid to learning by wisdom, and as a response to the violation of article N: 22 of the Moroccan constitution by the authorities that states “ No one may inflict on others, under whatever pretext there maybe, cruel, inhuman, [or] degrading treatments or infringements of [their] dignity,” Ahmed Shawqi said the following:

Rise in reverence for the teacher                    
The teacher is almost like a prophet,
Do you know any more honourable and venerable person than
The one who builds up and brings up spirits and minds?
Praise be to you my God, the best teacher
Who taught with the pen the first centuries,
You brought this mind out of its darkness
And guided it to the path of enlightenment,
And marked it in teacher touch
Sometimes rusty, sometimes acute. 1

In a nutshell, most of the parliamentarians stopped throwing their support of implementing the two mortal decrees behind Benkirane, leaving the masses with no alternative but to officially announce that the party itself has become just a dead carcass of what it once was. At this point, the future of our educational system is grim and uncertain since the Minister of Education threw the blame of a broken educational status quo on teachers, leaving them exposed to all sorts of criticism. The fact that 2016 is characterized with such brutal tactics against teacher trainees is raising the stakes of a future series of protests across the Kingdom higher and higher. The Head of the Government should dissolve teacher trainees’ problems all together in order to spare them another one-sided blood spilling episode when they will, too, adopt a year-long mode of life that takes nurture through a chain of protests—that might at certain point cause other localities to adopt the same mode of life.

                1 – The translation is Prof. Mohamed Chtatou’s.

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