Education for everyone! But for some more than for others

There are issues in Morocco that are annoying: the training of elites. Or rather: the outsourcing of elite training. Subcontracting that is changing the nature of equal opportunity and access to the fundamental right to education.

By subcontracting I mean “the globalization of the training of Moroccan elites [1]“. A globalization that, in this case, leads to the franking of training (more than 70% of the students enrolled in the French missions are Moroccan[2]Moroccan students are the largest student community in France[3]). But give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s! It would be unfair to blame this phenomenon on all those parents who only want their children to be successful. To all those parents who are committed to offering them the best teaching conditions. This outsourcing then seems to be the natural consequence of the deplorable state of the Moroccan public school. A dying school, if not already dead.

Education, a constitutional right

In “the most beautiful country in the world”, education is a fundamental right enshrined in the thirty-first article of the 2011 constitution. Through this provision, Moroccans’ right to education acquires constitutional value. It now falls under the fundamental legal norms of the state bound by means:

“The state … is working to mobilize all means available to facilitate equal access the conditions for enjoying the right to education modern, barrier-free and of high qualitytraining the attachment to the Moroccan identity and the unchanging national constants”.

But given the constitutional guarantee of equal access to modern, accessible and quality education qualitative stratification of schools. Confronted with the constitutional guarantee of education linked to Moroccan identity and immutable national constants, stands a range of Moroccan, French, American, Belgian, Spanish or Italian programmes. Given the constitutional consecration of equal access to this fundamental right, all things considered the incestuous coexistence of a dying public school, a thriving private school, and attractive foreign missions.

Education for everyone! But for some more than for others

At the beginning of the protectorate, the colonial will tended to preserve the established order, based on the privileges of certain social classes. Since the school can be a social elevator capable of “disfiguring” the status quo, the colonial school was designed in the image of the social structure: Schools for sons of notables for urban elites, a military school for officers in Meknes (Dar-el-Beïda) for tribal military elites[4]. A system « Malthusian, hierarchical and segregationist” to put it in the words of Daniel Rivet, a Maghreb specialist during the colonial period. On closer inspection, the spirit of the colonial school never left Morocco. Because if access to education was, quite simply, the prerogative of the privileged (caïds, notables…), access to education ” modern and high quality » today is due to the provision of significant financial resources or the knowledge of sophisticated pistons. From public schools to diplomatic missions to private schools, not only the quality should increase, but also the tuition fees. However, the increase in the quality fresh couple changes significantly “Equal access to modern, accessible and quality education”, Betrayal of one of the fundamental social roles of any school worthy of the sanctity of knowledge : A social elevator. Would the school of the notables’ sons still be with us? Does the specter of the colonial school still haunt our society?

Public school caught in the crossfire

Concerned about the political risks of the emergence of a Marxist and/or democratic opposition, the ideological excesses of the conservative elites were given free rein. In the early 1980s, for example, Arabization was introduced in Moroccan schools.

This Arabization has produced notorious contradictions: schooling in Arabic and studying in French. Oh! However, this Arabization was selective the following courses remained free: business administration, medicine and all scientific courses. Pierre Vermeren, specialist in the Maghreb and the Arab-Berber world, is aware of the discriminatory nature of this decision: ” This linguistic division is discriminatory, be it symbolic, intellectual or social.. But the discriminatory character is much more important given the existence of a private school and foreign missions, mainly French, alongside the public school. However, French in Morocco is not just a simple language, but also the language of economic power, the business world and thus the labor market.

This new educational landscape can only favor those who have excellent cultural and linguistic capital, in this case: diplomatic missions abroad, and private schools to a lesser extent. Public students are largely linguistically and culturally outdated and have fewer opportunities to integrate into a highly competitive job market. Unemployment is accompanied by the end of the striving for social advancement, which severely weakens social cohesion and the development of the citizen. Education in Morocco is inextricably linked to equal opportunities.

In the crossfire between ideological excesses and political calculations, education was Arabized, accompanied by a sad suppression of philosophy and sociology. Arabization was a decoy, an instrumentalization of the religious character of the Arabic language for political gain. An instrumentalization of the now fashionable pan-Arab fantasy in a partisan logic. Ideology has no place on school desks. Actors in the gap between conservatism and progressivism have repeatedly demonstrated their irresponsibility as politicians, prioritizing political gains over the well-being of future generations.

Basically, neither Arabization nor Frenchization had to be introduced, but a real Moroccanization of the school: a bilingual school, « modern, accessible and of high quality, preserving the bond with Moroccan identity and unchanging national constants », to quote the constitutional provision.

Moroccan school, universal Moroccans

From the strategic vision for education reform to the new development model, the technocratic approach is in control of the education issue. If this is necessary, it remains insufficient for a real revival of the Moroccan school. Reforming the Moroccan school means first of all thinking together about a social project within the framework of a cultural revolution.

Mohammed Al Jabri, an important Moroccan philosopher, said as early as 1973: ” What is certain is that the situation of education will find its way through a global cultural revolution that will bring profound solutions [5]« . A cultural revolution, why do? On the one hand for a strong Moroccan school. On the other hand, for true cultural sovereignty. Because emancipation is not only political or economic, it is always also eminently cultural. Didn’t Edward Said already describe the mechanisms of the cultural domination of “the East” by the West in Orientalism?

A cultural revolution therefore seems essential for the emergence of a strong school capable of producing Moroccans who are universal and committed to Moroccan identity.

A universalism that is not imported but stems from ours « Morocco », Is it possible ?

If we consider our identity to be intrinsically open to difference, in terms of the country’s geography and history, can it bring us to the common without getting lost in it?

In a world where we are constantly exposed to the outside (Netflix, social networks, etc.), isn’t the specific the surest route to the universal?

At the risk of provoking, public school reform seems too serious an issue to be left in the hands of technocrats alone. The renewal of the school should be the result of an inclusive debate about the social project we want for Morocco. The school would be reformed profoundly, neither by quantification nor by qualification, but by adopting a cultural approach that takes into account the specificities of Moroccans.

May the words of the late Mohamed El Jabri be the guideline for the education overhaul and worldwide for every reforming company in Morocco: “ We must stop making our heritage the enemy of our present and the present of others the paradigm of our future, we must live our present, change and reform it« . [6]


[1] Education of Moroccan elites, Pierre Vermeren.

[2] French Embassy in Morocco.

[3] Campus France.

[4] Education of Moroccan elites, Pierre Vermeren.

[5] “Lights on the Problems of Education in Morocco”, 1973, Mohamed El Jabri.

[6] “Lights on the Problems of Education in Morocco”, 1973, Mohamed El Jabri.

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