Thursday, December 3, 2009
A Billion Euros to Improve Universities in Morocco
Here is a article from Global Arab Network about "emergency" measures being taken to improve the quality Moroccan universities. Let us pray that someone is also working on making jobs for all the graduates too. Ameen.
Education Reform in Morocco: €1.1bn to improve universities
Thursday, 03 December 2009 12:48
As part of a four-year "emergency plan" to overhaul the education sector, the Moroccan government has signed DH12.6bn (€1.1bn) in new agreements to improve the quality of its universities. This extra investment comes as the country seeks to meet its UN Millennium Development Goals by 2015.
At the beginning of October, HM King Mohamed IV oversaw the signing of 17 agreements between the government and universities to improve the higher education sector, ranging from hiring additional lecturers and raising teaching credentials to expanding general infrastructure. The moves come as the number of students in the science and engineering fields is expected to double by 2012, along with the number of those passing the baccalaureate exam after high school.
Enhancing the research reputation of Moroccan universities is another goal of the higher education reforms. "These contracts will commit the universities to taking the necessary steps to improve performance, promote high-quality teaching and develop scientific research, with a view to enabling Moroccan universities take their rightful place on the international stage," local press reported Mohamed Marzak, the president of Cadi Ayyad University, as saying. The government has targeted accrediting 92% of its universities as research institutions by 2012, compared to 69% in 2008.
These agreements are part of the National Education Emergency Support Programme 2009-12, launched in March 2009 to address the short-term needs of the education sector. This emergency plan raised the age of compulsory primary education to 15 with an eye to eventually increase it to 18. Over the next two years, 15,300 schools will be upgraded, while 300 existing boarding schools will receive water and electricity. "The goal [of the emergency plan] is to make schools more attractive, in order to restore people's conﬁdence in Moroccan schools and help them fulfil their purpose," the minister of education, Ahmed Akhchichine, told OBG.
The four-year DH31bn (€2.7bn) emergency programme is being partially financed by a number of grants and loans from international organisations. In November, Morocco received a combined €13m in loans from the French Development Agency, the African Development Bank, the European Investment Bank, the World Bank, the European Commission and the Moroccan Ministry of Education.
While spending on education has hitherto been relatively high (5% of GDP and 24% of government expenditures in recent years), change has been slow in coming. A royally designated "decade of education" was kicked off in Morocco in 1999 with the publishing of the National Charter for Education and Training, a road map to sector reform. As a result, literacy for men aged 15-24 has risen from 84% in 1990 to 87% in 2008, according the World Bank, while the percentage of all students completing primary school rose from 82% to 87% over the same period.
However, the system has faltered in other areas, with only 15% of students passing the baccalaureate exam to enter university. In its 2007 Middle East and North Africa development report, the World Bank gave the Moroccan education system low marks. "Morocco needs to speed up its reform effort, with a special focus on reducing adult literacy and improving access to post-compulsory education," wrote the World Bank. Gender parity also remains a challenge, with a 1:0.87 male-to-female ratio in tertiary education in 2004 and 60% of the adult female population illiterate, one of the highest rates in the Arab world. Local press has reported that only 16.5% of girls in rural areas attend school, compared to 60% nationwide.
The emergency programme should help Morocco make significant headway towards meeting some of its UN Millennium Development Goals by the target date of 2015. In its 2007 progress report, the UN indicated that for Morocco the goal of universal primary education was "possible to achieve if some changes are made." The Ministry of Education believes that the emergency programme should help boost overall enrolment from 6.3m students to 6.5m within two years.
Unlike the National Charter, which lacked funding and coordination, the emergency programme appears to be a well-financed, focused plan to reform the education sector. The programme's budget reflects an impressive 23% increase in education spending from 2008, indicating that tangible results may soon be seen.
Global Arab Network
This article is published in partnership with Oxford Business Group