Teachers’ Day: The Forgotten Day in Morocco

Omar Bihmidine is a high school teacher of English. He holds a BA from Ibn Zohr University, Agadir. His writings take the form of short stories, poems and articles, many of which have been published in Sous Pens magazine  and  ALC Oasis magazine in Agadir.

Sidi Ifni, Morocco,

Today, as I was surfing the internet and navigating through my Facebook account, I received a message from a dear friend of mine that read ‘Happy Teacher’s Day.’ Before responding, I wondered about the meaning of this phrase for some time. Later, I inquired about the day he was talking about. He instantly reminded me of September 5th, the day that commemorates “teacher’s day.”

In all frankness, I forgot about it, and I am certain that most of my fellow teachers have also forgotten about it. What could this mean, then? Isn’t teaching, the noblest profession on earth, worth celebrating? Or, perhaps, it is only in Morocco where we feel ashamed to mention teaching, let alone the act of celebrating it.

Teacher’s Day is celebrated in many countries to honor teachers for their invaluable contributions to the development of their communities and to appreciate and acclaim the noble job teachers do in educating and training a number of generations. Yet, to hear anyone question why a country like Morocco does not celebrate the day would sound so strange that we can no longer help doubt the value of the teaching profession and its impact on our Moroccan communities.

Normally, we celebrate special days, which make us proud of ourselves. For instance, when many of us celebrate Mother’s Day, it is because our mothers are irreplaceable and so loveable that we devote a special day to make them feel that we are deeply indebted to all that they have done to us as babies and as teenagers.

However, when we want to celebrate Teacher’s Day, we Moroccan citizens and teachers alike hang our heads in shame for the simple reason that it does not make any sense to celebrate this day at a time when Morocco ranks almost last in the field of education internationally. How can one celebrate the day when 40% of Moroccans are still illiterate? If we happen to celebrate Teacher’s Day, then it will be hypocritical of us mainly because our teaching has not eradicated illiteracy yet.

Even among teachers who should advocate for this day, we find out that they evince no interest whatsoever. No words of acknowledgements are uttered at schools on the occasion of Teachers’ Day. 

Nearly every Moroccan is now aware that teaching has not led Morocco anywhere. So, why should one make a fuss about celebrating it? On the contrary, teachers may be embarrassed if someone raises the issue to them. Many Moroccan teachers have not the slightest idea about this day and some others know about it but feel afraid to celebrate something the Moroccan society feels disappointed and hopeless about.

In earnest, we cannot expect teachers who are overworked and underpaid to celebrate this day. We cannot expect teachers who are sent to remote areas with meager salaries to feel happy about this day. We cannot expect teachers whose nightmarish experiences at school haunt them every day to waste a day in their life to celebrate the teaching profession. We cannot expect Moroccan teachers who live under hard working conditions to celebrate the day. We cannot expect Moroccan teachers to call for a special day on which they reminisce  their worst days at school.

If Moroccan teachers were satisfied with their teaching profession, they would undoubtedly hasten to celebrate every single moment of the day and call on the society to join them in celebrating together. Yet, to our consternation, the society is angry at teachers for not doing their job properly and teachers for their part are angry at the government for not meeting their demands. That is certainly why they cannot sit at a table of understanding to celebrate the noblest profession that can make their lives much better if it is appropriately served.

Perhaps, on the other hand, it is the society to blame when it has associated teaching with a good-for-nothing job. If we gave the noblest profession the attention it deserves as many countries have done, I do not think Morocco would have lagged behind in such a manner. Celebrating Teacher’s Day in a country where teachers are like bridges that must be burned the minute they are crossed is deemed by many as a sign of hypocrisy. Let us remind ourselves that we do not care an iota about the teaching profession when even the educated do not know when the day must be celebrated. As for teachers, let us be reminded that it is better to keep our lips sealed regarding the existence of this day lest we feel ashamed of ourselves.

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