Morocco introduces school fees for well-to-do

No easy answers. A school teacher helps students read in Rabat. (AFP)

2018/01/14 Issue: 139 Page: 3

The Arab Weekly
Saad Guerraoui

Casablanca- The Moroccan government, planning to introduce reg­istration fees for wealthy Moroccans, is moving to end universal free public education.

The governing council has adopt­ed the first framework law that would regulate the public educa­tion sector, which has gone through many reforms over several decades to no avail, with a fee issue part of the new regulations.

“This is a great moment for Mo­rocco, which since independence has failed to agree on the legal prin­ciples that should govern our educa­tion system,” said Secretary of State for Higher Education and Scientific Research Khalid Samadi.

Moroccan Prime Minister Saad Eddine El Othmani said he regretted reports that the draft law included a suppression of free higher educa­tion, stressing that it “is completely false.”

Othmani categorically denied the government’s intention to scrap free higher education.

“The framework law introduces registration fees for wealthy fami­lies but maintains free education for the poor, middle and precarious classes,” said Othmani.

Moroccan government spokes­man Mustapha El Khalfi echoed the prime minister.

“Only wealthy and affluent fami­lies will contribute at the registra­tion level, as part of a law that will be adopted soon. Poor families are not affected by this financial effort,” said Khalfi.

The 36-page measure includes the recommendations of the 2015- 30 vision of the Higher Council for Education, Training and Scientific Research (HCETSR). The plan calls for the generalisation of education, linguistic diversity, reducing the number of school dropouts, reform­ing the orientation system and ad­vocating creation of a special fund for lower-class families who can­not afford to send their children to school.

It is to be presented to the Council of Ministers, led by King Moham­med VI. Once adopted by parlia­ment, a national commission, led by the head of the Moroccan govern­ment, will monitor implementation of the reforms.

Noureddine Ayouch, an HCETSR member, said the article that relates to the imposition of registration fees also mandates that the state will pay financial aid to those with limited financial means.

“The fees charged will benefit the students through the grants that will be provided to them. The teach­ers will also benefit by improving their wages, allowing them to live in dignity and to carry out their profes­sional duties and therefore improve public education in the country,” Ayouch told Assabah daily.

He said families would not refuse to pay fees if they were guaranteed a certain quality in the public educa­tion sector.

The amounts paid in the regis­tration would depend on families’ income. The Interior Ministry is conducting a statistical study to de­termine and classify the income of households.

Youssef Allakouch, secretary-gen­eral of the Autonomous Federation of Education, criticised the draft law for the fact that it was difficult to identify and prove the financial ca­pabilities of rich and poor families.

“The government should resolve the debate by declaring public edu­cation from primary to university free while working to reduce the dis­parities between private and public education so that we do not devote the elite education to the wealthy and worsen public education,” Alla­kouch told

“Families should restore con­fidence in education rather than deepen the gap between them.”

Most middle- and upper-class families put their children in private schools because of the deteriorating public education system.

“I don’t see a problem in introduc­ing registration fees in higher educa­tion and high schools but is it worth paying if the education system is still underperforming?” asked civil servant Abdelilah Dghiss, the father of two children in private schools.

Saad Guerraoui is a regular contributor to The Arab Weekly on Maghreb issues.

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