It’s Possible If…

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The Moroccan Foreign Language Teaching experience cannot achieve its objectives in the absence of (i) a clear national policy as to the merits of such a teaching, (ii) an agreement of all stakeholders on the vision lying behind such a policy, and (iii) a teaching environment providing all the requirements for the success of such a policy.

The statement above highlights three focal points that must be satisfied before one can talk about a teaching experience that is capable of reaching its objectives. Hereafter are the reasons why I support this statement.

When the Finnish decided they wanted an effective and fulfilling educational system, they opted for CLEAR policies. These policies emphasized the role of the teacher as a guide and a role model, and the role of the student as an active participant in the teaching and learning processes. The results now speak for themselves; Finland’s experience is currently regarded as the world’s leading and most effective educational system.

Primary school kids in a Finnish classroom

If we are to gain any insights from the Finnish model, we should work on a general consensus over a policy that generates the dedication of all active actors towards the achievement of its goals. Depending on serendipity and the personal efforts of some teachers and schools would not yield the positive results we are longing for. Hence, the necessity for such a policy.

However, a general policy does not necessarily mean a unique and unified vision of how education should be, how teachers should teach, or how learners should learn. In fact, A general policy might be even more fruitful if teachers are given the chance to practice teaching according to their own teaching philosophies rather than following a set of fixed criteria and guidelines. This would give teachers more room for innovation and would eventually lead to a more independent and engaging teaching and learning experiences.

Understandably, such a shared vision requires the agreement of all stakeholders. Therefore, all our decision makers, teachers, parents and students alike must agree to take an active role in the implementation of such a policy. A “national policy” is not national unless all categories of stakeholders are involved in its drafting and, later on, implementation. We have been trying top-down policies for decades, and there is no doubt left for their uselessness.

The most problematic point however, is the third one. Providing a teaching environment that satisfies the needs of the students and their teachers is a real challenge. Nevertheless, it remains  a compulsory condition for the success of such a policy. No success whatsoever will see the light unless the state is willing to invest in education. It has actually been proven that we do not lack ideas, nor do we lack the necessary human resources, but that the real shortage is in providing a positive and stimulating teaching and learning environment. Moreover, we must make sure that the policy encompasses the values of fairness, justice and equity to all stakeholders, and that it does not favor a single category over the others.

Primary school kids in a Moroccan Classroom

To cut a long story short, the road to a better educational system in Morocco is a bumpy one. However, if there is a real willingness to solve this problem, and if the ministry stops sweeping our problems under the rug, things will advance.

You don’t simply go from this: (Education in Morocco)

To this: (Education in Finland)

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5 thoughts on “It’s Possible If…

    Noureddine said:
    January 11, 2014 at 11:46 pm

    Education is a means to reproduce the same social layers. The Makhzen will never work against its own interests because mainting the status quo is incompatible with improving the quality of education. I hope I’m wrong.

      amseghir responded:
      January 11, 2014 at 11:50 pm

      Why do we keep getting loans for education, then? Why do we distribute free schoolbags, books and provide scholarships for elementary and middle school students? These measures are unprecedented in Morocco. I hope things improve soon.

        elhabib said:
        January 15, 2014 at 2:31 pm

        because Morocco is a poor country, so simple, we as Moroccans we like free things. we must do more investment.

    Lynne Diligent said:
    January 12, 2014 at 8:49 am

    This is a very good article, but I see one big part missing, and it’s not just about money. Of course the whole infrastructure needs to be improved. However, notice the BEHAVIOR of the Finnish children in the classroom. They are behaving well because of the way they are raised in the home, both in terms of parental discipline, and in terms of preschool experiences. This is enabled by middle-class values prevailing throughout society and most people having access to be in the middle class. In our class-based society, those in the lower classes are not generally providing the same kinds of preschool experiences, nor having or instilling middle-class values and internally-motivated respect for education and teachers. In fact, behavior in the classroom and attitude toward teachers is getting worse and worse. Why is this? Is it because in our class-based society, many of those attending public and private schools seem to come increasingly from families who view the teacher as a servant who can be browbeaten, or bribed, to pass their children? When I was in northern France, I visited an elementary school and observed the same excellent behavior as is observed in the Finnish children in the second video. When staying in a French home, I noticed that preschool children are very, very tightly controlled in their behavior; they are neither allowed to raise their voice, nor run, nor to ever act in an uncontrolled manner in their own homes. Furthermore, their parents talk to them about things at home and they come to school already understanding a lot, and used to listening and responding. I accompanied these children to school and was amazed to see how they sat still in their chairs, listened well to directions, and behaved like the children in the second Finnish video above. Compare this with our experience in Morocco. Many parents don’t spend time talking with their children, and the large numbers of lower-class parents have to spend all their time making a living, or are probably too exhausted, or don’t even think about spending several hours a day talking with their preschool children teaching them things, or controlling their behavior. They are mostly allowed to run wild. Therefore, they arrive at school not used to paying attention, not used to listening and responding, not used to sitting still or staying in a chair, not used to being quiet and paying attention while someone else is listening. In the middle and upper middle classes, children often arrive at school with the idea that they are “better than” the teacher and that he is someone to be manipulated, rather than learned from, and respected. Much effort by students is put into “how to beat the system” rather than to learn or become competent at the material. Before the big push to education, I suspect that all these students dropped out of school fairly quickly to remain forever in the societal lower classes. But is that changing now? These students are staying in school, disrupting education for everyone and dragging down the quality of education. We hope that by becoming educated, they can find a ticket to the middle class, but where can they find jobs? Most employers in this country tend to be family-owned concerns where nepotism rules the day, and everyone is obsessed with class and status. What to do? I don’t know. We all want the situation to improve, but how to do it when we have a strong class-based society? In Finland, this class problem does not exist. Yet, here, it seems most people in the middle classes are not advocating for a classless society, they want to get up into the middle class so that they can enjoy the benefits of having their OWN maid and being able to be “above” others.

    elhabib said:
    January 15, 2014 at 2:37 pm

    we need MONEY don’t you get it, Morocco needs Money full stop.

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