What Moroccan and Djiboutian Education Have in Common?

The Moroccan government has announced yet another “major reform” in the education system. Jamal says that as long as teachers like him are not consulted, such reforms are doomed to failure.


Jamal Elabiad is a writer and teacher. 6 comments

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

There are several reasons why there is no difference between Morocco and Djibouti as far as education is concerned. One is that the Moroccan ministry of education, like the Djiboutian one, deprives Moroccan teachers of many rights. For me, as for others, disregarding the teachers’ rights while preparing to reform the education system means one of the most serious problems Moroccan teachers suffer from has not been fixed yet.

It’s common-knowledge that teachers are a basic component of all education systems. That’s why it’s highly recommended to consult them while thinking of updating an education system. I can say with confidence that the failure of almost all reforms Moroccan education system has undergone so far is due to the fact that the Moroccan ministry of education did not ask teachers for comments and observations before starting to implement those reforms. For instance, Moroccan teachers were not asked for feedback on the Education Emergency Plan till the ministry put it into effect. As a Moroccan teacher, I still have not understood why the ministry did not ask teachers for feedback before the application of the Emergency Plan. Possibly, the teachers’ opinions, for the ministry of education, are of minor importance when it comes to reforming the Moroccan education system.

The ministry of education not only ignores the teachers’ feedback when introducing a new education reform, but it also does not organize training-sessions to make them familiar with the new reform. In other words, most teachers can’t use new teaching approaches and methods unless they were trained to employ them in class. This is the reason why most Moroccan teachers are still using outdated teaching methodologies. One day, I was invited by a middle school teacher of English to observe one of his teaching sessions, and provide him with some feedback. I was shocked to observe that the teaching method the teacher used had nothing to do with Competency-Based Approach (CBA). When I asked him why, he said that he heard of the approach, but had never been trained to apply it in class. I provided the teacher with a number of English language teaching (ELT) Web sites from which he could download videos and documents on CBA, and also advised him to try to attend some ELT conferences and seminars in order to update his teaching skills and techniques.

The teacher, to my surprise, did not live in the village he worked in. The village is about 40 kilometers far from the centre of the city. He decided to live in the city and every day commute to and from work, for the apartments the ministry built near the school were not sufficient for the big number of teachers who came from far-away places, and who were appointed to work in the village. It every day cost the teacher almost forty dirhams to commute between the city and the workplace. That means half of his salary was spent on commuting to and from work. Therefore, it’s impossible for such a teacher and many others to pay so as to attend seminars and conferences whose main purpose is providing teachers of different subjects with up-to-date teaching methods and approaches. As far as I know, commuting to and from work has deprived a large number of teachers of English of attending some ELT conferences such as the one organized each year by the Moroccan Association for Teachers of English (MATE). It’s too expensive for teachers who spend half of their salaries on commuting between home and work to pay 1000 dirhams to attend the MATE conference.

After two months, I received an e-mail from the teacher I observed saying he was among the teachers at his school who were selected to attend a three-day training organized by the delegation of the ministry of education. I was not surprised to learn later on from the teacher that they boycotted the training due to the poor food and accommodation the delegation provided for the teachers who came from the suburbs to attend the training. I was not surprised simply because middle school teachers of English at the city where I am working boycotted in 2008 a three-day training for the same reason.

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Posted on Thursday, September 30th, 2010

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6 comments on “What Moroccan and Djiboutian Education Have in Common?”

  1. you explained the educational system in Morocco. what about Djibouti? this means that the title of your essay needs a change.you know what, I would love to know if you visited Djibouti before? if your answer is no, then i must say that you are a racist.

    you said “deprives Moroccan teachers of many rights” . what about working four hours a day? 3 months summer break ? does it exist in any part of the world?

    MATE is a polite gathering of people who have one thing in common : nasb wa l ihtiyal.

    Now,let me tell you this. I have met some teachers of English and I can tell you that they really need to go back and learn some English.

    On the whole,your arguments are not sound. Actually, you said nothing apart from some private tales.

    • horiga,

      Thanks for posting a comment.

      To know why I chose such a title, just click on the hyperlink ” education” and read the article.

      Visiting a country to know something or everything about it is a thing of the past. That means we no longer need to visit Djibouti so as to write an article on it. All we should do is resorting to some Web sites that shed light on Djiboutian issues, such as education. BBC Web site is an example in point.

      This is the first I’ve known that a racist writer is a writer who wrote on a country though he/she had never paid it a visit!!!!

      You have the full right to say whatever you want as far as MATE is concerned. But have you got any evidence to support you allegation:”MATE is a polite gathering of people who have one thing in common : nasb wa l ihtiyal. “? if yes, just send them to me. I ma willing to devote an article to that question. By the way, I am not a member of MATE. And if you are in doubt, read this artice: http://jamalelabiad.blogspot.com/2009/03/three-questions-for-mate.html


  2. Bouchra Kachoub

    I strongly agree with every single point in this article. Implementing a new educational reform does not only have to involve the Ministry of Education, teachers, parents and students must also be taken into consideration because the information that one can get from them is valuable. Teachers are the ones who know the most about students. They are the ones who interact with them directly and they are experts on what will work and what will not. Parents are also to be consulted because we need to know what they think, too. Aren’t their offsprings who are going to be affected? Students can be either interviewed about what they think of the reform or they can participate in a pilot study to make sure that the reform is going to work well. Even if it does not work well, weaknesses can be detected through the pilot study and can be amended before the implementation takes place. For example, when a textbook is about to be published, a group of students in different locations would participate in a pilot study to see if the textbook is a good one and if it is engaging and appealing to students. It is just a textbook and not a whole educational reform.
    There is also another point mentioned in the article which I find extremely interesting: Professional training. If we do not update teachers on the latest methods and technologies to teach their classes, then we are just messing with what we call education. Can you believe that in the U.S. students do not go to school when their teachers are on their professional training days, bearing in mind that class cancellation is something utterly refused? Do you see the importance given to teacher training? I think that even the teacher training (while studying for the teaching certificate) they do in Morocco is not up to the level because teachers do not seem to learn about students themselves before learning about the subject they are going to teach. I do believe that they need to know a lot about the people they will be working with before knowing about little thing they will pass on to them.
    Nice article! I enjoyed reading it and thank you for sharing.

  3. Bouchra, again you raised some important points, including the need for teachers to know more about their students and their needs in order to better interact with them in a learning environment. I think your points are tactical, Bouchra, and while i do agree with them i think some strategic ones should also be pointed. We should not ignore for fact that many graduates who choose to go for teaching do not do so out of desire but out of necessity (I do not mean here everyone) and it is super challenging to motivate someone to pay utmost attention to his/her kids if he she/he does not have passion at the first place. In Morocco teaching is a job/ a profession, in the United States it is a vocation. A vocation is what you are called to be (by god, destiny, faith or by your inner self). It is like an Imam or a priest who does what he/she does not for money but out Love. That is what we need in Morocco..love for what we do and freedom from the forces pulling us into the material world…

    • Mustapha,

      I totally agree wih you. Most graduates go to teaching, not because they want, but because they have to. For me, they shoud not be blamed for that. It’s poverty and unemployment to blame.


  4. thank you for this article, it seems to me your arguments are sound and I hope that our country goes for change

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