Research Paper on The Evolution of Education in Morocco: A 50-Year Journey

Paper Type:  Research paper
Pages:  7
Wordcount:  1698 Words
Date:  2023-01-30


Understanding the history of the evolution of education in Morocco is critical to the understanding of the present system of education. The schooling system in Morocco has changed over the last 50 years. Importantly, the enrolment rates have increased; education has been made accessible to all; there have been changes regarding standardized exams and specification regarding how mastery of material has to progress. However, some challenges regarding the lack of a unified education curriculum continue to plague the education system. At present, the traditional Islamic schools have repositioned themselves as part of the education sector. This essay reveals that despite the revolution in curricula, staffing, purpose, and organization in pre-university education in Morocco, the Islamic education philosophy has proved to be among the Moroccan aspects of education that are difficult to phase out. The Islamic education philosophy propelled particularly by the Arabic pre-schools (kuttabs) , and the Arabic language is evident in each stage of evolution of the Moroccan schooling system.

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Moroccan Islamic Learning in the Pre-colonial Period

Islamic institutions followed the introduction of Islam to North Africa. The Islamic primary schools are referred to as Quranic schools since the primary purpose of schooling in the institutions entailed helping students to recite and memorize the Quran (Boyle, 2004). The Islamic schools follow the instructional practices of Prophet Muhammad.

Before colonization, the system of education in Morocco was based entirely on the philosophy of Islam education. Islamic education philosophy highlights that real knowledge originates from the development of the whole person, including the moral, spiritual, and intellectual dimensions of the individual (Boyle, 2004). As a result, Islam education emphasized the development of the essence of an individual and particularly the soul. Such a system of education is different from the American and the European traditions that emphasize the development of human intellect as the sole focus of schooling. For the Muslims, religious education is equally crucial like empirical and scientific knowledge, and it indeed complements the same.

Before the introduction of the French system of education, the Islamic schools in Morocco were loosely organized. The administration comprised community members in local settings and wealthy patrons in the cities (Boyle, 2004). The Moroccan schools were genuine community institutions aiming at responding to community needs. The schools were not complicated, bureaucratic, or centralized. Institutionally, there existed madrasahs, Kuttabs, and mosque-universities.

The traditional Arabic schools were the first educational institution for young children, and in most instances, they provided the only formal education. The curriculum consisted of Quaran memorization. The madrasah was available in cities. Children who attended the Madrasha were those who recorded distinguished performance in Arabic pre-schools and those who came from wealthy families and whose parents could afford to send them to the city for studies (Boyle, 2004). Madrasah curriculum included subjects such as sharia law Quranic exegesis and grammar. The mosque-universities were institutions of higher learning in the courses offered in madrasahs and additional topics, including history and philosophy.

Students in the Islamic institutions moved forward in the system of education and progressed at their own pace. There did not exist end of year formal tests. Importantly, there lacked a set school year (Boyle, 2004). A look at the then system of education reveals that the same ideals of a holistic, student-centered, and positive instruction emphasized in the present order.

Classroom activity at the kuttab and madrasah levels involved copying and memorizing and memorizing the Quran. Teaching methods later evolved to include more explanation. Kuttab students would copy Quranic verses on wood that acted like today's chalkboards. Coaching occurred individually and in small groups, where teachers listened and corrected the students' oral mistakes (Boyle, 2004). The pens were immersed in the black inky solution and cleaned the wood after memorizing the verses.

The teachers in the Quran and Islamic studies (the fqih) acquired too much respect from the masses. The connection arose from the high priority given to learning the Quran. Reading and analyzing the Quaran was considered both instrumental and sacred such that failure to study the same was worth a punishment. The community believed that any part of an individual body struck when learning the Quaran is prevented from burning in hell (Boyle, 2004). As a result, the Quranic schools relied heavily on corporal punishment in disciplining students and in motivating them to do better.

The Education System after Colonization

Upon colonization, the traditional teaching system with Arabic as the primary language and teachers being experts in Islamic law was declared primitive. The education reforms introduced three to five hours of French education for every hour of Arabic. However, the French continued to exist as a second language (Boyle, 2004). Preventing students from complete immersion into the French language was instrumental in preventing the Africans from becoming part of French civilized society.

The colonial period introduced an alternative system of education meant to educate students to serve in the imperialist administration. The French schooling system had lasting repercussions beyond directly supplying labor for sustaining the colonial administration. The colonial period ranging from 1912 to 1956 was enough to leave lasting implications on the system of education by entrenching French ideals (Boyle, 2004). The French principles of colonization included a strong tendency towards assimilating the natives into the French culture. The institutions implanted in the colonies followed the same set up with the institutions in France. With time, French, as opposed to Arabic, became the language of instruction.

The leading assumptions permeated by colonial education system were based on French ideas and values, which had a minimal relationship with the Islamic assumptions in the original order. The imperial learning system centered on universality and rationalism (Segalla, 2009). The French ideals contributed to a standardized and centralized curriculum aimed at imparting scientific knowledge as opposed to the initial intuitive and spiritual one.

With the French system of education showed disregard to the prior broad base system of learning subjects without any form of specialization. In the colonial era, learners were required to acquire knowledge at the same pace and similar order nationwide. Grade promotion became based on national examinations which were centralized in entirety to ensure fairness and uniformity. The newly introduced concepts were different from the traditional system of education that allowed students to progress in the education system at their own pace.

The French system of education introduced a greater focus on theoretical studies. The traditional Islamic thinking ensured congruence between education goals and the demands of quality living in the community. The shift in the center of education towards training students to work in the government introduced a change in what constituted useful education (Llorent Bedmar, 2014). The demand for prior Islamic knowledge reduced as the proliferation of public school based on the French system increased. The government absorbed all the individuals who went through the modern education system, thus making the French education system to have some utility.

After Independence

Morocco gained independence in 1956, and the country experienced a sharp decline in the national workforce following the departure of French. The post-colonial era contributed to increased demands to improve the educational policy in an attempt to meet the gaps in the new economic and social realities. The Royal Commission for Education introduced the first reform in the education sector in 1957, commonly referred to as the education movement to make education accessible to all (Llorent Bedmar, 2014). The nation concentrated on universalizing education and reducing the illiteracy rates throughout the 1960s. The reforms contributed to the construction of new educational institutions, creation of youth centers, and organization of workshops.

Upon the exit of the colonizers, Morocco inherited a complicated educational landscape. There were multiple education systems, including the traditional Quranic schools that existed before colonization and that survived throughout the colonial era. There were the French public schools introduced by the colonizers and that offered education to French and Morocco children. Still, there were the Israelites schools attended by the Jews and the free schools funded by the National Movement in a bid to counter the impact of the French public schools.

Languages of instruction in independent Morocco were both Arabic and French with a high emphasis on either of the two. To improve access to education, Arabic was chosen as the language of instruction in pre-school, the first and second grades. French continued as the instructional language in science and Mathematics throughout primary and secondary learning levels. Arab teachers taught social sciences and humanities. The universalization of education following independence contributed to the high demand for secondary school instructors by 1970. In handling the same, Morocco imported teachers that were conversant with the French language from nations such as Romania, Bulgaria, and France to teach Mathematics and sciences.

The complex system of education contributed to a high proportion of student's dropping out of school. The social, economic, and political conditions that existed just prior and in the1980s pressed the government to adopt appropriate educational reforms. In 1980, the education sector accepted changes based on four key goals: the unification of the schooling system, the Arabization of the instruction method, Moroccanization of the administration and teaching staff, and ensuring universal education (Boubkir, & Boukamhi, 2005). The pre-university education system introduced by French deepened considerably after their departure, and it was finally Arabized regarding the language of instruction. However, French remained the instructional medium for scientific courses in technical universities, institutes, and colleges.

The educational reforms of the 1980s did not contribute to significant changes due to the lack of consensus about the language of instruction. Most of the working administrators had attained French education (Boubkir & Boukamhi, 2005). The government officials would emphasize the application of French as opposed to Arabic.

In September 1999, the schooling system in Morocco from 1985-1986 underwent another reform that focused on changing the curriculum. The improvements included a change in the traditional five years of primary education and seven years in secondary school to nine years of primary education and three years of secondary education (Llorent Bedmar, 2014). Primary education was meant to take place in two phases with a pre-primary stage taking two years and primary school taking the remaining nine years. A valid curriculum was introduced applicable in original and, technical-vocational and general education lasting for seventeen weeks. Secondary education was varied with the elimination of compulsory subjects and the replacement of the same with optional items.

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