Rabat – In the midst of the lingering educational crisis in Morocco, with the country ranking 123rd nation in terms of education in the Human  Development Index, the Minister of Education, Mohamed Hassad promised  to improve all levels education sector, moving up from pre-school to higher education.

Hassad, previous minister of the Interior and current Minister of National Education, Vocational Training, Higher Education and Scientific Research, presented to the Governing Council the broad outlines of the action plan for education reform on Thursday, July 20.

Hassad said that the plan had three references, namely the High Royal Instructions, the Strategic Vision of the 2015-2021 Reform, and the Government Plan 2016-2021.

The minister noted that the strategic and organizational area was based on four key factors, namely the pedagogical model, the organizational aspect, school planning, and governance.

Pre-School, Primary School Reform

Hassad’s education reform aims to make pre-school education mandatory for all children aged four to 10 by 2027. He plans on doing so through partnering with civil society actors and the state.

Improving students linguistic skills is at the heart of primary education reform. The minister plans on introducing French classes in the first year of primary education.

The reform also consists of setting up a strategy to reduce the number of students in classes,aiming for 30 pupils per class in the first and second years of primary schooling and 34 per class for the four other levels.

Textbooks for the first, third, and fifth levels of primary school will be renewed. The minister said that they’re expected to be published at the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year, while textbooks for the second, the fourth, and the sixth level will released at the 2019-2020 school year.

Secondary and High school Reform

The secondary and high school reform plan aims to strengthen the linguistic and scientific capacities of students and to facilitate the transition to higher education and integration into field works by establishing a diversification strategy of professional baccalaureate options.

The plan also aims to reduce the number of baccalaureate pathways, to diversify career paths, and to publish new textbooks for each level beginning in the 2019-2020 school year.

Developing a system for the identification of schooling necessities, including the enrollment of new students, the improvement of social support, the enhancement of conditions for school meals and housing in boarding schools, and the adoption of a coherent multi-annual planning policy, is at the heart of the reform plan, said the minister.

Vocational Training Reform

At the level of the vocational training sector,the number of trainees reached more than 449,000 beneficiaries in the public sector, 74,000 in the private sector, 4,535 within the associations, and 4,155 in enterprises.

The number of graduates in this sector reached almost 316,000 in 2015-2016, of which 71 percent received training from the Office for Professional Training and Promotion of Work (OFPPT), with an integration rate of 80 percent.

The OFPPT foresees the creation of 120 new establishments at a rate of 24 units per year, the addition of 668,000 seats, and the increase of the number of students in the professional baccalaureate to 150,000.

The training reform hopes to see a total of 1.7 million graduates by 2021.

Higher Education and Scientific Research Reform

The number of students enrolled in higher education institution is about 838,000, of whom 670,000 are in public institutions and 96,239 in private institutions.

Nearly 33 percent of university-aged young people are enrolled in university, andHassad estimated this rate will be around 45 percent at the start of the 2021-2022 school year.

The reform of this sector plans to improve the conditions of higher education through the development of university spaces, the extension of six university dorms, with 4960 beds capacity, and the construction of six new dorms, with a capacity 8,200 beds and 9 private university residences with a capacity of 7,000 beds.

The action program also includes the establishment of legal measures to increase the number of students benefiting from medical coverage and to generalize scholarships to all doctoral students and to 90 percent of the master’s students.

General Plan for Education Reform

 The minister announced that 55 establishments, 26 of which will be built in rural areas and the expansion of 1,948 rooms will be implemented during the school year 2017-2018.The same year will seethe establishment of 100 communal schools in rural areas,with further plans to create 100 communal schools at the beginning of each school year in order to reach the number of 1,000 schools.

In order to improve pedagogical supervision, Hassad recommended the revision of recruitment mechanisms with the intention of guaranteeing greater transparency and ensuring fair competition.

Hassad emphasized the need to put an end to student absenteeism and to make the best use of educational frameworks, in addition to the strict application of laws relating to the educational space and its environment.

By Amira El Masaiti