My Story with Moroccan Bureaucracy

Jamal Elabiad, a Moroccan teacher, shares his difficulties in working through Moroccan bureaucracy on his way to his first teaching job.

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Jamal Elabiad is a writer and teacher. 3 comments

Sunday, August 29th, 2010


After getting a six-month training at Meknes pedagogic centre (CPR), I was appointed in 2005 as a middle school teacher of English in Zagora, a South-eastern Moroccan city. Becoming a teacher was my dream for many years, for I knew early on that it’s the only career that would allow me to keep “eating” books and writing from time to time. By the way, Arabic is the first language I started writing with. However, I would not have thought twice had I been offered another career before teaching simply because in Morocco we do not have the right to choose our jobs. It’s unemployment and poverty to blame.

Soon after I got my Baccalaureate, I started applying for any job I learnt of so as to help my fatherless family. My father died of a heart disease when I was twelve, and it was his death that forced my mother to work so as to look after her eight children. Without my mother’s financial help, I couldn’t have enrolled at Fez university.

I applied for a career of teaching soon after I got my first cycle certificate (or DEUG). Among the questions the examiners asked me during the interview was why I wanted to become a teacher. In addition to the reasons I mentioned earlier, I told them that teaching would financially help me resume my university studies.

Before travelling to Agadir in 2007 to enroll at the university, I consulted some teachers who just got their B.A. about the paperwork employees need so as to continue studying at the university. Agadir is nearly 540 kilometers far from Zagora. I was told that all I needed was a written permission from the ministry of education. After a month or so, I was happy to learn from the school headmaster that the ministry permitted me to finish my university education.

The staffer responsible for registering students at Agadir university said after scanning my Baccalaureate and DEUG that I would not be registered till I brought them a transfer certificate from the university of Fez simply because I would not be registered at the university as a first-year student, but as a third-year one. And when I promised him to bring the only missing document later on, he said that “it’s the law that says all employees coming from other universities must bring such a certificate, not me. That means it’s against the law to register any employee without a transfer certificate.”

As for the ministry permission, the staffer told me that the document was of no importance for employees to register at the university. He finally advised me to send an application to the dean of the university asking whether “he can permit me to register without having a transfer certificate for the time being, and promising to present it later on.” I received the dean’s shocking reply the following day. The dean repeated exactly what the staffer at the registration office asked me to do. It was as if the staffer wrote the reply, not the dean.

Right before I returned to Zagora, I recognized how naïve I was when I thought the Agadir university administration would put my name down shortly after I gave them the permission I received from the ministry, and also when I thought it was Moroccan bureaucracy that deprived me of my right to continue my university studies.

I was stunned to learn from some students I made their acquaintance at Agadir university that “the essential paperwork for registering at the university becomes of no value only if you are from Southern Morocco [from the Sahara province].” They also made me familiar with many violations happening everyday at the university, and which are beyond the scope of this piece.

I met some Saharawi teachers in Zagora who confirmed what the students in Agadir university told me about. While one day discussing with them the procedures of registering at the university, I discovered by chance that they were allowed to enlist at Agadir university without submitting a transfer certificate, or even asked to submit it afterwards.

For those teachers, most Saharawi people are the exception to bureaucratic procedures in Morocco due to the fact that they support Morocco’s efforts to find a solution to the thirty-five-year Sahara issue. There are many reasons why I did not agree with those teachers, one of which is the fact that all Moroccans, not only Saharawis, support their country’s efforts to resolve the Sahara issue.

It’s beyond doubt that Saharawis are just an example of those who are exempt from the complexities of the Moroccan bureaucratic system, and that I would have been exempted from submitting the transfer certificate had I been born, for instance, from Smara or Dakhla!

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Posted on Sunday, August 29th, 2010

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3 comments on “My Story with Moroccan Bureaucracy”

  1. Omar BIHMIDINR

    I have read your article very carefully and I have also learnt lots of things about your personal and academic life just through it. The reason why I appreciate it most is that we share so many things in this life, such as becoming a middle school teacher and the dream to pursue our studies. It is curiosity that drives me to read it voraciously and also your excellent writing style makes me comprehend it easily. Though you haven’t yet pursued your studies, you still remain the greatest English language user I have come across. More importantly, your life experiences are an inspiration for me. I too went through so beaurocratic experiences that I so often consider criticising our administration by writing an article.


    • Omar,
      Thanks for reading the article and posting a comment.
      I really do not blame myself for not following my university education. It’s the administration of Agadir university to bame.


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